It’s a relationship. I keep forgetting that. I start having an internal dialog with myself all day, instead of talking to God. I start doing things because I am focused on actions, instead of interactions.
It was a relationship with man that God wanted in the Garden. It was for a relationship with me that Jesus was sacrificed.
I went out of town earlier this week to visit my kids and grandkids. When my grandchildren saw me, they were so happy that they were grinning widely and jumping up and down. When I returned, I had a warm reception from my husband, who was very glad that I was home again.
God is like that. He welcomes us with open arms. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) He can’t wait to be united with us forever. “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” (Rev 21:21)
I have talked often about the need to balance love and righteousness. Our Christian walk is about loving God with all our heart, and having mercy and compassion. It is also about making Jesus Lord, and being obedient to the Word. We can’t stress mercy to the point that we stop thinking it’s important to be righteous. And we can’t stress righteousness to the point that we lose track of the compassionate, loving heart of God.
But then I remembered that it’s a relationship. Love and righteousness are really the same thing.
- “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” John 14:23
- “this is love for God: to keep his commands.” I John 5:3
The very definition of righteousness is to be faithful to a relationship, fulfilling the obligations of that relationship. And there are obligations involved in my relationship with God because He gave everything so he could have a relationship with me. He reached out to me when I was low and hopeless, like the description in Ezekiel 16, “Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field.” He provided a way that to break down the wall that separated me from Him. “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him.” Isa 59:15-16
So what are the obligations of this relationship?
- He gave everything, so I need to give everything. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Phil 3:12
- All that I have is because of His love, so I need to love others. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13
But mainly, I think my obligations of having a relationship with God involve availing myself of that relationship, instead of being self sufficient. I need to talk to God more, ask for guidance more, ask for help more, thank Him more, depend on Him more, and include Him more. He needs to be the joy in my heart, the music in my days, the rock in my times of stress, the security blanket in my trials.
He needs to be my Father. The very first phrase of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples is “Our Father.” This relational phrase is not just the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, it’s the beginning of everything in my Christian walk.
- “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.
He needs to be a constant presence. I need to remember that I can do nothing apart from a relationship with Christ.
- “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jn 15:15
So I go about my life seeking to be righteous, seeking to be obedient. But I must do this in the context of the loving relationship Christ has established for me, or I am actually not being righteous. That is mind blowing.
And, conversely, I say loving God is the most important thing to me. But if I am struggling with selfishness, I am missing something — the relationship which motivates me to be righteous.
Let me slow down, take a deep breath, and be present with God. I don’t know how to do this, but I know there is strength in it.
Today, I was watching baby Jack for a bit, and he tried to play the electric piano. It was turned off and didn’t work. So Jack took my hand and put it on the keys, expecting that I could make it work.
That is what I want to do with God — put His hands on the places of my life that don’t work. I can’t play the music, but with a relationship with God, everything will flow.