What does it mean to have a relationship with God?
Throughout the Bible there are many stories that center around a common theme that God is a highly relational God. Stories of how God builds relationships can be seen with King David, Moses, and the Apostle Paul. Through a relationship with humans, God’s work is carried out. The most definitive display of God working through a relationship is seen in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. God brought His son into this world through a woman. When Jesus began His ministry, He selected disciples and taught them through a relationship. And why does God place so much importance on relationships? Because it is the way that God connects to His children, we are His most precious creation. Our God is not a far off God. He is our Father and He does not want to see us drift away, but instead, He strives to bring us closer to Him through a relationship.
Our universe only works because there are relationships; a connection from one creation to another. Consider a simple relationship as it pertains to words in a book. Properly ordered words in a book have a relationship that make up many sentences, the relationship of sentences make up paragraphs, and the relationship of paragraphs make up an entire story. The relationship between air, warmth from the sun, and water, make up a thunderstorm. The relationships between people make up our lives. Relational hierarchy is the connection that makes separate parts work in unison with great order. Remove the relationship, then there is no order. Remove the relationship of words, sentences, and paragraphs in a book, then a book is nothing but chaotic words on paper. So it seems that for order to occur, there must be relationships. But the most important relationship is seen in how God encourages us to be in a perfect relationship with each other, with Him, and with His son.
Relationship is so important to God that for us to know of Him, we must have a relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that those who are not committed, will not see the truth of His words; and therefore be left out. Let’s take a look at the following verse where Jesus explicitly addresses these points.
“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”
In Matthew 13:9-11 above Jesus explains why those who have faith understand the message, and why those who do not believe in God have a difficult time understanding what is being conveyed. Notice that Jesus uses the word, “parable.” A parable is a story with layered meaning. Read the words only, and we’ll miss the point of the story. It is only when a person has a relationship with Jesus that they will see the higher level meaning of the story, and therefore know the truth in the story. But for those who do not have faith, truth will not be given (“…but to them it has not been given”). Further, what Jesus said appears to be a catch 22 situation. Jesus seems to be saying that if a person does not have faith, then they will not be able to understand the words, so then, how can a person have faith if they cannot understand? Let’s take a look at this a little more closely to unwind this perceived discrepancy.
A parable is a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. When Jesus referred to a parable, He was referring to the fact that God’s words have a deep meaning, and to see that meaning, one must first have a relationship with Jesus. So committing to the relationship is critical before we can begin to know the story. The same is with God. A person must have some level of sincere commitment, no matter how small, for them to be placed in this relational hierarchy with God. Please understand that we cannot perceive God from the outside; one must be willing to commit their soul to the relationship as a sign of commitment. In other words, a person cannot simply read the words to gain understanding, we must be willing to be part of the story we’re reading before we can fully grasp what is being said.
There is a movie, “Good Will Hunting” starring Robin Williams and Matt Damon. The movie centers around a young man who is highly intelligent and gifted in many ways, but he is an arrogant young man unaware that his unwillingness to build relationships is prohibiting him from experiencing the true value in life. In this scene, the young man is counseled by his teacher (Robin Williams). Please be aware this scene contains some foul language, so please be willing to over look these words. I invite you to watch this video clip.
And just like the young man above, we must also be willing to place ourselves in a relationship with Jesus Christ before we will be able to perceive the whole story. We know this as the beginning of faith (Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. –John 14:6). Through faith in Jesus Christ, God, the Father, is revealed.
And this all would seem to address another important issue. The real catch 22 situation arises when a person desires proof that God exists before they will believe. As tempting as it is to want proof that God exists before believing, this is not possible because proof excludes the necessity of a relationship; and exclusion of a relationship violates God’s design. Expecting proof is like asking someone to prove who they are in an instant before you can begin to love them. We know this is not a reasonable approach because relationships are not obtained through instant proof, but instead, relationships start with a small amount of faith. Our love for another person grows stronger over time as we continue to build upon mutual trust and faith; God seeks the same with us.
All of God’s children are connected through a relationship with Christ. Each of us are brothers and sisters in Christ; bound in a relationship to be as one family. Jesus binds us all together as an unbreakable chain. And as separate links of a chain are bound by a tight relationship, the same is with us in Christ. Where Christ goes, all those who are in a relationship with Him will go the same way; the Kingdom of God. Stay above the noise that is growing in our world which strives to take our attention away from Christ; by doing so we will remain strong in our faith.
These words I write in the service to God, and to all of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.