How do you relate to God? We talk about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Is our personal walk with God and focus on God shown by our treasuring Him, communion with Him and living by faith in God? I recently read With by Skye Jethany which challenged me regarding my relationship to God. I wanted to say I walk with God, but was shown how I easily use my relationship with God to try to manipulate Him to do what I want. Not pretty nor godly!
In the book, the author discusses four ways that we relate to God in our need and desire to be restored to our right relationship of being with God; life under God, life over God, life from God, and life for God. Each one finds its roots in Biblical teaching, but as people we tend to push it to an extreme for our benefit. Here is a short synopsis of each…
Life under God is based out Deuteronomy 28 where God calls us to obey and worship Him only and promises that He will bless us for our obedience. We can focus on obedience to God instead of loving God with our worship and obedience flowing out of our love for Him. In fact, it is easy to tell God He must bless us because of our obedience or worship. Obedience becomes an idol. The Pharisees in Matthew 23 are an example.
Life over God is relating to God by living out His principles and expecting God’s blessing. It is focusing on the needed knowledge of divine principles and studying Scripture to discover those principles instead of studying the Bible to know God. We see this in many seminars that promise if you do these three or five principles you will get your desired results. Biblical principles become an idol. Moses in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 is an example….he followed the principle but did not listen to or love God.
Life from God focuses on God’s promises to meet all our needs according to His riches in glory and that every good gift comes from God. Therefore God exists to meet our needs and it is very easy for us to become Christian consumers. God becomes our vending machine. We relate to God for what He can give us, not to be in a loving relationship with Him. God’s gifts and blessings become idols. An example is the younger son in Luke 15.
Life for God is relating to God by doing things for God; the larger the sacrifice the better. Our love for God is shown by sacrificial service and that mission can define our lives. The truth is that all of us are called to serve God out of our love and devotion, but not driven to prove our love and relationship to God through service. Paul is a great example. Paul gave his life to serve God, but his service did not validate him; in fact, in prison, his walk with God was just as real as when he was in active ministry. In life for God, one’s service and calling become the idol.
These are all ways that we try to restore our right relationship with God that He created us for; that Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned. God has given us the solution in Jesus Christ, Immanuel…God with us. By trusting in Jesus and His work alone we are restored to a right relationship with our creator God. So how do we walk with God and practice the Biblical truths of these four ways of relating to God without falling off in the ditches of idolatry or manipulation?
I find myself relating to God in different ways according to what I am dealing with or my situation. It is easy to use God as a supernatural vending machine when I am going through tough times (life from God). Or I can find my value and validation from my ministry or work when Jesus is just not enough (life for God). And when I need God to do something for me, I can fall back into “Lord, see how obedient I am to you so you have to bless me” (life under God). So how do I live a life with God? The author gave several thoughts to ponder that I found helpful.
Do we treasure God? Is God truly the One who I would give everything to be with and to enjoy? Does loving God compel me to follow Him? God must be my greatest treasure. I need to be overwhelmed with His love and with loving Him, where I can easily focus on His greatness, His love, and who He is as my treasure.
Treasuring God causes us to desire to live in communion with Him. Many times I think of this as prayer where I talk to God, but this is more. Communion with God is being with God; listening to Him, waiting on God, getting to know Him and just enjoying Him. As you see, this is more than prayer. Communion with God is what Jesus did with His Father while on earth, spending time alone with His Father so that He could say “I do nothing on my own but only what my Father tells me to do.” I find this very hard because I am a doer, but God wants me to walk in communion with Him.
Out of our communion with God comes our ability to live out a life of faithful surrender and service. In communion we get to know our God which helps us trust Him. We know He will not only lead us but we can fully trust Him to supernaturally do whatever He promises as He works in and through us. And the more confident we are in Him, the more natural it is to walk with Him continually by faith
How do you relate to God? It will affect everything you do; how you live, how you preach, how you teach, and what you desire your people to do and become. Let’s strive to live with God and lead our people to do the same.