A Faith Forged in Relationship

God’s way is the best way—do you believe that? I am certain that his commands to humans are grounded in a consuming love for them. What he orders us to do, whether spoken in the written Word or in the quiet of our hearts, is purposed for our benefit and joy, never burdensome or appeasing his need. God has no needs; instead, he only seeks to give us his best.

The scope of God’s directives transcends mere rule; they reveal him (Ps. 19:7-9). They explain so much about his intent toward us, which is only good and loving. Here is where some will quickly add, “Yep. This is not a religion, but a relationship”—and I’ll only partly agree, because Christianity is religion…is a religion, but one emphasized in relationship. The two are conterminous, for the one leads to the other.

Setting Our Spiritual Priorities

Relationship is the goal, however, life-changing, radical relationship. It has always been the basis of Judeo-Christian faith. God doesn’t ask us to trust him blindly. In Scripture and in our lives, he has always revealed himself…revealed his character and made sure that we never have to trust in One we don’t know or understand.

Wholesome, dynamic relationship is the clue we gather from the succinct reference to Enoch in Hebrews 11:5, relationship so wonderful that God whisked Enoch out of this life into another—and then come these words: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

In my post entitled “Getting Faith Right”, I write about this passage and myself: “I knew God was there, but I didn’t understand that before all the great possibilities of his power and my obedience was our relationship and that it is the touchstone to everything.”

When our relationship with God is strong, we’ll have no problems with his commands. And we can be used powerfully like Philip, Ananias, and others who were simply told “Go!”; and despite being given no further instructions, their confidence rested not in results or their own well-being, but rather in their Commander.

It All Points to Him

God tells us to do nothing without orienting it to himself, his character and purpose. He never just says “Believe”; instead, he says, “Believe me.” He doesn’t say “Love,” but “Love me.”

Don’t believe the many slogans—“Love is all that matters” and “Just believe”, or at least judge them by the scriptures. Jesus exemplifies a life with every sensibility aligned with his Father and his purpose. No love exists in a vacuum without the potential for abuse; there is no worth in a faith in ourselves.

Furthermore, ours is a caring Father peering into our faces giving his instructions, which is especially important when the orders appear dreadful or are tough to our will.

God is all. He guarantees what is done for him and achieved by his strength. And if we do all for his glory, we’ll accomplish his will and discover incredible joy doing so.

Read more: The Goal of Religious Practice

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10 thoughts on “A Faith Forged in Relationship

  1. “he has always revealed himself…revealed his character and made sure that we never have to trust in One we don’t know or understand.”

    Indeed, this is something that all believers need to know. We are not trusting in an unknown entity but in a known, transparent God.

    Very encouraging post Mike.

  2. I was going to quote exactly the same lines Kathleen already quoted in her comments. I will just say, Amen! Those are awesome insights, Mike.

    And while I understand what you’re saying about religion, I personally don’t like using the word because it paints the wrong picture in most people’s minds about our life in Christ. In that sense, it’s a negative word that has nothing to do with authentic Christianity. I actually don’t really like using the word “Christian” either for the same reason.

    In my own experience, and with too many others I’ve known, we came into the faith through an encounter with the Father’s love, only to have this freedom found in His embrace squelched and ground into dust by dry religious ritual, rules, and traditions found in most churches. It doesn’t produce the life promised by Jesus and is so far away from the New Testament example. We almost need new words to describe it. Of course, those words would also get abused and misused, eventually.

    If we would just let the Holy Spirit be in charge and learn how to open our heart to the Father’s love, loving others with His love, then people would actually have the right picture of this “religion” called Christianity. And they would see it through His love and affections for them. I know that’s your heart too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mel. Being a regular reader of your posts, I know your opinion on the terminology. But you’re right: What you wrote is indeed my heart and we’re on the same page. My point on the religion statement is only to put it in a proper context rather than to reformulate. Your point that new words and terms would also be abused is spot-on. Christian religion to me is a monumental and glorious faith institution with dynamic relationship at its heart. Unfortunately, too much bad doctrine and bad history prevents us from noticing the wonder. Cheers!

  3. “When our relationship with God is strong, we’ll have no problems with his commands. And we can be used powerfully like Philip, Ananias, and others who were simply told “Go!”; and despite being given no further instructions, their confidence rested not in results or their own well-being, but rather in their Commander.” So powerful, Mike.

    I love too that you address the popular phrases of the day- Believe, Love… they are nothing in and of themselves unless they apply to Christ. Great Stuff!!

    • Thanks, Kathleen. I often wonder if we Christians ever judge or shut out the stuff coming over the airwaves. When we’re abiding in the word, we can discern all that’s missing or is misaligned and take our cues from Christ.

    • Amen. My former pastor always says, “The more you know him, the better you can trust him.” The Lord sees to it that we know him. Any neglect is ours. Cheers, Levi.

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