Relationships… with God

Welcome back to the bus!  We’re back on the road again on our journey of discovery, as we explore this theory:

“Christian theology is not particularly difficult to understand.  Its precepts and premises are fairly simple, it was given to “regular” guys to share with the world, and they did it.  Yes, of course they had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but then so do we. Yet we love to argue, follow tradition and form to avoid spiritual growth and reaching out, because they are counter-intuitive, and the fact that they are counter-intuitive is exactly the point of all things being new, for our human intuition isn’t new, it’s the old thing that Jesus died to free us from.”

As we arrive here at Relationship Camp, I’ve broken our day’s session into two parts.  First we’ll take a look at our relationship with God, and later, we’ll take a look at our relationships with other people. So, here we go looking into our relationships with God…

I would have to say that roughly half of the 900 and some odd posts on this blog to date are about our relationship with God.  I’ve posted about it from an academic/theological point of view, from an anecdotal point of view, from a relational point of view and in the narrative form, so I think the best way to proceed in this particular post is by relating general concepts, and that will keep with the method of the entire road trip, for this is not a technical or exhaustive study, but a conceptual one.Mt Vernon 913 042

The first thing for us to always remember is that we have a relationship with God because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He shed His blood so that our sins can be forgiven.  We choose to be in relationship with Him by responding to the message of the Gospel, and when we do so, our sins are forgiven and we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is this Holy Spirit within us that gives us direct relationship to God.

To experience this relationship, we need to seek His presence in our lives.  I did a series of posts this past fall (The Journey) in which we looked at spiritual disciplines for just this seeking of His presence.  Today, I’ll approach the subject differently, simply, briefly.  We seek Him through the Scriptures.  We seek Him through prayer and we seek Him through study and reflection.  Some of us may do a better job of these things than others, but there is something else that we might consider here.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Simple, isn’t it, to know God’s will for you! Let’s take a closer look…

Rejoice always

To say this, and then to say it’s God’s will for you implies that Paul has said it in the imperative. “Hey, you over there!  Rejoice!” If it can be commanded, then it can be chosen, so rejoice always.  When things don’t go our way, we have a choice: We can let the circumstances get to us, or we can choose to rejoice in the Lord anyway.

 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

See where the choice is made? (“We will“) I’ve tried this and it works.  OK, I’ll admit that if there is enough headaches and hassles, sometimes I waiver, but it normally takes quite a bit.  Let’s just rejoice in our Lord even though it is counter-intuitive some times.

Pray continually

A special time of prayer and reflection are great, and I encourage everyone to do it, but it isn’t the only thing.  In fact, it’s the “beginner’s” thing.  The “Big Boys” never stop!  Seek God’s presence through constantly talking to Gos as you go through your day.  It is really hard work to be ticked off in the presence of God!  Tell God how much you love Him.  Tell Him that you are serving Him because you love Him.  Talk to God about your business, school or household activities and ask for His blessing or guidance upon them.  Tell Him that you want to do an especially good job at what you have to do because as His Ambassador, you want to serve Him because of how much you love Him.  Ask God to present you with opportunities to share His good news.  Do this in the morning as you drive to work, later do this through your work day.  Do this in the afternoon.  Do it in the evening, and do it some as you drift off to sleep.  You will be in his presence all the time, and your rejoicing will increase. The more we continue in this way, the more aware we will be of His presence, the more we will learn to view the world around us through His eyes, and not our own.

Am interesting thing I’ve noticed here is that I view the world with a great deal less condemnation than I used to.  Oh, I see the godless stuff more clearly than ever, but my attitude is different; I yearn for its deliverance and emancipation from the evil that is so common.  I now feel for the people like I haven’t before.  Things bother me much less than they used to, because I know that God is working His plan in and around me, and even though there are trials for me personally, I am excited to see how God has it all turning out!  Do this, even though it may seem strange (because it is counter-intuitive for many of us) you will be blessed beyond measure in His presence!

Give thanks in all circumstances

It’s easy to give thanks when you get that big raise and promotion, but when you get the layoff notice, “thanks” isn’t the first word you might think of!  Yet, we know that God loves us.  We know that He has gone to extreme lengths to set us free from sin and death, and we know that He has plans for us.  Just because business goes wrong doesn’t mean that anything has changed; a new chapter has begun.  Where will it lead, what new experiences will we have in His presence… is there a better job around the corner?  I can’t really say, but I’ve been around a long time, had many trials and challenges, and God has always worked things out for me.  Maybe not always to my liking at a given moment, but things have ended up better in the end.  Sometimes we go through “hard times” in this life in an economic sense, and grow by leaps and bounds at the same time spiritually.  Money will pass away, but our spirits are eternal; keep things in perspective and rejoice, pray continually and always be thankful!

This is all simple stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, it is very profoundly important, but it isn’t complicated.  Even when your natural inclination might be to go in a different direction, seek His presence, and your joy will be complete in Him!

Really, no joke… I told you this was counter-intuitive, didn’t I?

See you back later today for relationships part 2.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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8 Responses to Relationships… with God

  1. sarvjit says:

    The relationship made in Heaven with pure love.

  2. Little Monk says:

    This is a beautiful piece, Don. It “rang deeply” in me, and became more resonant as I read on. Well done!

    One point only that made a contrary echo… not “disagreement”, not at all… but just a sort of a “spiritual asterisk” that niggles in my heart whenever we see our relationship with God beginning at the Cross.

    “The first thing for us to always remember is that we have a relationship with God because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

    The Cross was an unspeakable act of love, yes. Holy, Cosmic, Infinite, for Jesus Himself to suffer separation from God the Father so profound that for the first and only time in Eternity He could not feel Him, sense His presence… to cry out in anguish that He was forsaken! We cannot even imagine what an experience that would be for Him. Wondrous! Incredible! Yes, all of that.
    But not… beginning…

    John said, “We love, because HE first loved us.” [1 John 4:19]

    Paul said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7]

    Am I just splitting hairs? Sharpshooting? I hope not. Truly, I pray this not sound like that. Because this is at the deepest heart of who I am and what I try, always, to say. To believe we have relationship with God BECAUSE of the Cross, sometimes implies that “God finds us untouchable, unlovable, WITHOUT the Cross.” As if Jesus’ grace at the Cross was necessary to persuade God to love us, or to overcome His revulsion at us or our sin.

    These verses paint so vastly different a picture… a picture of a loving and heartbroken Father Who, with His Son, collaborate to REALIZE (make real) and SOLIDIFY the love they have for God’s Children, through the “lifting up” of the Son, to draw all men to Him. How can I say this clearly? What if the Cross, ALONG WITH paying the price for, and cleansing us from, sin… were a BEACON, drawing us to God through Christ?

    The difference in the two pictures is the Father’s Heart, God’s Heart. Imagine the illustration of a couple… a married couple, deeply in love. But then one day, there is infidelity and one partner betrays the trust of the other. Jesus uses the example of “The Bride”, so we are not stretching very far. One view, a view I hear all too often, proposes that the aggrieved party becomes bitter, angry, resentful, and will have nothing more to do with the unfaithful partner. What I see God doing, throughout all the Bible, and certainly in these verses, is NEVER to stop loving, constantly to continue to woo, and ultimately to go pay all the debts run up by His faithless spouse, to win her back and restore their intimacy.

    The couple are again in love. Not because the faithful partner ever wavered, but because the wanderer has come home and loves all the more deeply.

    In such an image, that of a couple in love, I delight in your further points! We so tend to wrap “holy stuff”, “churchy language” around these BRILLIANT expressions of intimate relationship! Here is where my heart soared. This is so EASY to relate to on a human level, but sometimes all the “religious syrup” can make these seem unattainable. How many people you know have no problem nodding piously at such phrases as “pray always”, or “rejoice always”, and so on… but consider such activity the domain of the “saintly and sanctified”… certainly not themselves? But no! Look!
    Imagine God and His Bride (an Individual Christian, here), deeply in LOVE!

    Rejoice always

    Does this mean a Christian life is supposed to experience happiness at all times? Um… no. Jesus didn’t. That would be silly. Jesus wasn’t silly… doesn’t ask us to be. Joy, then… what’s that? My own experience, a deep satisfaction with life and the way God manages that, such that if we were given the POWER to change reality from God’s will to something else, we would not exercise it. The deep seated knowledge that God desires nothing more than our greatest good, and we are happy with that. Joyful marriage, forever lovers, say things like… “After all these years, I wouldn’t change a thing.” That’s “Forever Joy”.

    Pray continually

    Same analogy… Joyful marriage, forever lovers, are always “with” one another, whether the beloved is present or not. They make judgments of what to do, what restaurant to pick, what movie to watch, based on what is pleasing to BOTH of them… or to the beloved as the first priority. They “commune” rather than necessarily “communicate” all the time. (Ever sat in a living room with such a couple, one of them reading a book, the other reading the newspaper, and still feel the love radiating between them? It doesn’t take continuous words, to express continuous love.)

    Give thanks in all circumstances

    Well, you get the point. I’ll just repeat… “After all these years, I wouldn’t change a thing.” That’s “Forever Gratitude”.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Brilliant, Don! Thank you so much. I have never laid this out this way, and I know it’s much work on your part to plan this little Journey Bus Tour, and arrange all this lodging and itinerary! I’ve never enjoyed a tour more! Are we gonna make a stop by Paul’s place, and get to see any Castles, or really cool Gardens?

    Blessings and grace to thee — LM

  3. 1cross2bear says:

    I just wanted to say, yes indeed. My husband and I love each and every day to spend the time in stillness before the Lord. It is my favorite place to be , at the feet of Jesus. I have learned a lot being still before the Lord. I enjoy the way you share. The Lord bless and keep you~

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