A Relationship With God is Not Enough

canstockphoto13098595When we think and talk about God, we do so in human terms. We envision God as human-like.

We really have no other categories in which to talk about God or gods. Even the ancient religions who envisioned their gods as animals saw them as human-like animals.

It’s called anthropomorphism, which is one of those cool words that give polysyllabic a good name.

(That sentence is for all my fellow English major nerds. The rest of you may roll your eyes. We don’t care.)

One form of anthropomorphism is to say that God is a Person, which is to say that God is not some nebulous thing, a cumulous cloud of spirit, a collective consciousness.

God is not “The Force.” Sorry, Sheldon.

God is a being with consciousness, personality, and the ability to be in relationship with other beings.

Which is why we say that God is not just Person, but Persons, plural. Three, in fact: Father, Son, Spirit.

Why three and not two? Two would suffice to indicate God-in-relationship.

Yes, but two has an air of exclusivity. Monogamy is exclusive of more.

Three is expansive. Three’s company. Three indicates that there is room for more.

And with God there is always room for more.

The Bible teaches that this God-in-relationship is also Creator, and he seeks a relationship with his creation.

It’s not so much that he needs to be in relationship with his creation as that it is simply in his nature to be in relationship.

Water doesn’t need to be wet, it just is.

God doesn’t need to be in relationship, he just is. It is in his nature to pursue relationship.

And because we are created in his image, it’s in our nature as well. We long for relationship with our Creator and with his creation.

“Love the Lord your God with your entire being,” Jesus said. “Similarly, love your neighbor as yourself. And everyone is your neighbor. Even your enemy.”

So it’s in our nature to pursue a relationship with our Creator; unfortunately, it is not always nor perhaps often that we pursue the Creator.

In an ironic yet tragic twist, we seek to fulfill our desire for a relationship with the Creator by pursuing relationships with things other than the Creator.

Sometimes those things are other people.

Sometimes those things are just…things.

No wonder we are constantly moving, always restless, forever fatigued. No matter how much we achieve, no matter how many friends or lovers we have, there is always that nagging sense deep within that says, “There has to be more than this.”

We weren’t meant to just be in relationship with other people. That is never a substitute for being in relationship with God.

It works the other way around too: we were never meant to just be in relationship with God. This is perhaps where Evangelical Christianity has most erred. We have made our salvation solely a matter of each individual having a personal relationship with God.

Which makes that relationship the center of the universe. It is the thing that saves us, and the thing that defines our spiritual health.

“How is your relationship with God?” we are told to ask ourselves in doing a spiritual self-assessment.

Me and Jesus. A relationship of two. Of exclusivity. Monogamous. No need for anyone else. No room either.

“Love God with your entire being,” Jesus said. “Similarly, love your neighbor as yourself. And everyone is your neighbor. Even your enemy.”

God is Creator, and he doesn’t create willy-nilly. God creates with a plan.

God has a plan for his creation, and to be in relationship with God is also to be active in God’s plan for his creation.

This is where the doctrine of election comes into play. Israel was chosen by God to be special instruments in accomplishing his plan for creation, and inasmuch as they cooperated with God in pursuing that plan, they were living within his will.

When they didn’t cooperate but pursued their own agenda—national wealth, the security of their homeland, self-aggrandizing worship to ensure their economic harvests—they were outside of his will.

This is what God called sin, and it is from this that they needed to be saved.

As much as we need to pursue a relationship with God, we also need to pursue the agenda of God. Sadly, it seems that few Christians can articulate what the Bible says is God’s will for his creation, other than to say that God wants everyone to be saved.

Well, yes, but what exactly does that mean? For most it only means that God wants everyone to be in heaven when they die—which is of course true—but if that is all one can articulate, then one has a very truncated understanding of God’s will for his creation.

In fact, that only says what God’s will is for heaven, but it says nothing at all about God’s will for this earth, his creation.

In the New Testament Paul speaks of the Church being God’s elect, but, like in Israel’s case, it is an election to play a role in accomplishing God’s agenda.

Yes, that means that those chosen are saved, and that those chosen have a relationship with God, but all to the end that God’s will is pursued on earth, just like it is in heaven.

“Elect” is not just a status, it is a role to be fulfilled on behalf of all of God’s creation.

Election does not result in a group of people separated from everyone else for all eternity, but rather a group of people set apart for a role in bringing all peoples together.

God doesn’t choose some people to be his children, but chooses some of his children to help him rescue the rest of his children.

It is sad that, for many people, the will of God is such a mysterious subject, and they struggle to know what it is.

It is equally sad, if not more so, that for many Christians the issue of the will of God is framed as the issue of understanding the will of God for my life, as if my life is the center of God’s attention, when actually it’s the other way around.

We need to stop worrying about our lives and start worrying about the life of God, for the real issue isn’t whether we are going to invite God into our lives, but whether we are going to accept his invitation to share in his life.

We need to stop worrying about God’s will for our lives and start concerning ourselves with God’s will for the world. When we understand that, we’ll see where our lives fit in the larger plan.

God pursues a relationship with all people, and he is pursuing his plan for all the people in all his creation.

Likewise, we need to pursue a relationship with God and, just as much, we need to pursue God’s plan for all the people in all his creation.

And in doing so, we find a life that is worth living forever.

Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / savcoco

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