Monday, September 23, 2013

Relationship with God

A Relationship is the Starting Point
Going Deeper with God  no. 2
~A continuance of  Going Deeper  no. 1., entering near the conclusion of Lesson 1 from a series of lessons I taught for an adult Sunday school  Class. My objective in teaching the class was to draw the listeners into desiring a more intimate relationship with God. This blog starts abruptly because of entering at a mid-point in the lesson.
Seek until you find Him. It is God's way. 

We all have them:  
What are some of the frustrations Christians internalize but think would be unchristian to acknowledge?  People of the faith get frustrated with God. Really, they do. Sometimes it seems ligitimate but other times, it seems like they're spinning their wheels,  getting nowhere fast. I confess, I am that way at times. I lose my focus. Then the complaining begins. It can be disheartening listening in on other's on-going complaints about almost anything and everything especially when they are things that can be brought to God in prayer.  Soon you realize it's true. The Christian faith out-lived is not what many claim they believe it is, it is failing to deliver, they say one thing but live as if it couldn't possibly be true. How so? 

I believe it is a surface problem.  The walk doesn't match the talk because it lacks depth. Christian believers tend to be duplicit. They live intellectually with a Christian-ful mindfulness, an academic belief, but in practical living their faith is weak, sometimes not that much different than their unbelieving family, friends or colleagues. It seems that this may stem from some incorrect thinking in regards to God. This conception is a limited viewpoint even if the theology is fully formed. The walk of faith can be more, much more than we have come to accept as "normal." It takes some understanding to see where we've gone misconstrued this concept of the Christian walk. The premise is faulty.  Our view of God and how he relates to us may be the reason we get confused.

Believing Christian people tend to see God as someone to use for their good.
They put God in a box. It is a human trait, but in error none-the-less, a limited view of God, limited to what is humanly observable to our way of thinking, those things which are obvious, what we can actually see God is doing here and now. It is also limited in what a person expects and wants God to do.  It seems that not only do people live their lives in a limited spiritual box but they also put constraints on their view of what God can and wills to do in their personal lives and in the world around them.  Many Christians act as if they believe God isn't active or alive these days, that everything in the world is going to hell in a handbag. They have it all figured out. This is a limited view. Such thinking is mostly a secular perspective. The, living in fullness of God's Spirit, is missing in this scenario. Believers wild do well to be freed from this way of viewing spiritual truths. I will try to explain what I mean.

Whether they are aware of it or not, people often see God as a magic cure-all, a magic fix, to set everything right.   
When something is wrong they go to God to fix it.  When something is too big, too large for them, or too beyond their control, they storm the heavens.  Is it any surprise that there is calamity in their lives?  How much better it would be if everyone could just love God for who he is not for what he does for us, although the two cannot be entirely separated. God is not a dispenser where A + B = C (if I do "this" plus "this", I will get "that"=the reward).

-Why is it so easy for Christians to see God in this way?
-What could break this habit, this view-point, of seeing God as someone who is there to make us happy, to fulfill our needs, and to fix everything?

What to do????  That is the QUESTION!!!  A Relationship is the starting point.

It is my belief that God made all people for having a close RELATIONSHIP with him. 
I think William Shakespeare got it right, “To be or not to be? That is the question.” Although our purpose is to glorify God while on earth, which brings him glory, relationship with God is another facet in the spiritual journey.  God doesn’t intend for his children to wing it, to do the best they can while pleading with him to help them (a desperate, weak supplication).  No, that is a limited view of what God desires in his relationship with us.  The point has been missed. It is backwards in some way.  In this way of thinking, the person has failed to see what God truly desired when he created Adam and Eve, when he formed man as the center created being of all plants and animals.  Embedded in man by being created in the image of God, is a capacity for a real relationship.  God made the human being to want more of him, to seek him, to find him, to find their satisfaction in him. He wants humanity to see that there is more to life than the face value of ordinary living.  In Christ’s redeeming of lost humanity, it became possible. The relationship was restored that was broken during original sin. Humans can now commune in oneness with all three persons of the God-head, called the Trinity.  In fact, we as Christians are adopted into God’s family.  We become family!  How cool is that?

We aren't used to thinking in terms of relationship when talking about God. 
I never used to either. Through years of seeking God and finding him in realness, it finally dawned on me that what I had with God was an intimate relationship. He was the strong one in the relationship. During the initial stages of the relationship, I was dependent and a woeful, hurting child. In time, I grew in strength, more mature in my faith and also in my ability to discern. Godly wisdom began seeping into my thinking and outworking in my human connections with others. It was a miracle, a beautiful miracle of divine grace. All relationships have a give and take dynamic. Christianity that is limited, is often bereft of this relationship component. It is rigid, unbending, unhappy, and sometimes, even angry or unloving. This should not be.

God made all humans for relationship. 
We feel unworthy. Of course we do! Except for the finished work of Christ, we have little to offer in this relationship. But, God calls us to himself. We are precious to him. He is a loving Father with his children. As in any solid union, there is a key ingredient necessary for this relationship to work and to become a solid unit.  That ingredient is TRUST.  God knows that his children struggle to develop into mature Christians, and that many try their best to become servants of all, an endeavor that can be enablized from human effort.  He knows his followers put forth amazing energy into doing (the best they can) which is good but not the perfect reason for living it out.  God understands how all of us get misled or get stuck in a doing, doing, a form of spiritual works in our spirit lives. It comes quite naturally. We are used to performance as the indicator of worthiness, the measuring rod that dictates (spiritual) success.  In a secular, merit-based society, it is easy to miss the spiritual truth that all of this doing is truly secondary to being fully what God wants his loved-ones to know and enjoy.   It fails to meet the inner need for oneness with God, a closeness that brings close fellowship.

God seeks us.   
When a person seeks back, truly seeks God, willingly opening their heart to God's ministrations, a miracle of divine love penetrates into their being.  A mystery begins within which will unfold much as a seed that grows, forms, and blossoms, and then produces fruit.  It is in the form of an intimate, beautiful, loving, reciprocal relationship, the beloved with the lover, the lover of our souls and of our beings. 

A young man I know has begun to experience this relationship. 
First, it was God speaking to him by anchoring a verse from a Psalm during a time of immense emotional pain in his life. A couple of years later, he's visiting a church, the minister is speaking, the words are just for him. The walls start crumbling down. He begins to weep in church, feeling as if he could cry and cry without end, could sob his heart out. He sees his sin for what it is, he acknowledges his own pain, and also the pain he's caused to others. Something has taken root. The year continues on and he finds himself praying often. He begins to sense God communicating with him especially when he is alone in the evening hours viewing the sun as it is setting. This young man finds someone to share what is happening to him, an openness ensues.  It is not easy for him. He is sensitive, hurt by life. There is much inside of him that needs to be cleansed and healed, much pain and anger, and things to learn and ways to grow. A year or two later, he finds himself reading and seeking God's ways, overwhelmed by a sense of God's great love for him. A few weeks ago he shared his story with me after the process had been in place and growing him. He is experiencing first-hand the love of God for him, and it is humbling, precious. It is everything. This young man knows the type of spiritual relationship that I am talking about, real and vital, life changing real.

Let's talk about relationships: Historically, conceptually.

-What is the oldest relationship that ended; the great divorce in heaven?

-What is the next recorded relationship that ends, in willful choosing of self-want, self-actualization, over God?
-How did Christ bridge this chasm between God and man?

-If all your children went their own way, rejecting you for generations on end, yet you continue to love them dearly, anyways, how would you feel? 

-How do you think God feels when his children really want him, because he is a God who loves them dearly, not for just what he and his Son did for them at salvation, and for the good things he provides for them?

We have a role to play in God’s loving intention for this universe.

SPIRITUAL EXERCISE:  Get alone with God.  
In quietness ask God to reveal to you how he sees you in your world.  Ask him to show you your heart, to reveal your sins, to show you your fears and things you cannot see. List them out. Picture yourself in the New Testament times, walking with Jesus as he heals blind Bartimeus, casts out demons, raises a young girl to life and so forth.   Read through the gospels.

Think on Jesus.  Who he is. What he is doing. Begin the practice of bringing God into your thoughts throughout the day. Remind yourself by touching your heart, wrist, something tangible every time you think of God at work in your life or in the world.

Seeking God to find him: My journal, Bible, prayers, meditations.
Do not be afraid to approach God.  
He is not a mean ogre who wants to punish you. He is not unapproachable or vindictive.  He IS approachable. He desires you to reach out to him, to seek until you find. You will be amazed what will happen when you open up yourself to God. If God seems unavailable or you feel anger toward him for a reason known only to you, I challenge you. Go find a place where you can get alone with God in uninterrupted seeking. Pray and talk to him until you are different. Do not stop until something happens in your person. One thing is required, total honesty with openness. No personal agenda allowed. This may take hours. Persist. Don't let fear stop you.
Fear is often the antithesis of faith.

May you find God to be enough, everything, and wonderful, today, tomorrow, and always. 

#God  #Meditation  #Relationship

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