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Having “a Relationship With God”

Having “a Relationship With God”

    This writer owns a baseball cap which has the potential to involve him in conversation with total strangers.  The reason for this is because the front of the cap says, “Ask Me How I Know God Exists,” while the back says, “Ask Me Why Evolution Is False.”

    On a recent trip to a local adventure park with my family, a friendly, middle-aged lady asked me about the front of my cap.  She wanted me to explain how I know God exists.  So I did.  After explaining a mere fraction of the evidence for God’s existence, I found out that she already believed in God, and that she simply wanted to see how I would respond when called upon to explain the statement on my cap.

    After finding out that she worshipped locally, and had been in that denomination for about 15 years, I asked her why she had stayed there so long. She said she liked that church because the focus was on “having a relationship with God,” rather than rigidly following doctrine. She said she had grown up in the Baptist church, and they focused on what you can and can’t do...mentioning specifically their opposition to “dancing and wearing swimming suits in public.”

     Later, I visited the website of the church she currently attends, and found that her evaluation of their teaching was accurate.  On a page titled Frequently Asked Questions, the question was asked: Are you some sort of cult?  Here is part of their response: “No. We just love God a lot, and have discovered that a relationship with him can open doors to life beyond the mundane...” (   So their focus is in fact on having a relationship with God.

    Feeling that I might never see this lady again, and that I had but one shot to get some truth over to her, I took a chance and politely argued a bit with her. I asked her if she had read Matthew 7:21, where Jesus said that only those who DO the will of the Father will enter Heaven. She agreed that doing God’s will is important, but quickly added that God’s love is always available to us. A few more things were said by both of us before we parted, but enough of the story has been told to serve my purposes in this short article. Let’s analyze the situation a little further.

    First, we should focus on a relationship with God. No one denies that. But what was conspicuously missing from her church’s website was the fact that A RELATIONSHIP CAN BE EITHER GOOD OR BAD. The assumption that is often made in such statements (i.e., We just focus on a relationship with God) is that the relationship is necessarily good. But the only way to have a good relationship with God is to obey His commands (Jn. 14:21; 23-24). There is no other way for us to love God than besides keeping His commands (1 Jn. 2:3-5 ).

      This tactic, used by her church, is quite common. I know this because of a similar discussion I had with a “pastor” of a local denomination several months ago on the same topic (i.e., having a relationship with God outranks obedience). This “positive-sounding catchphrase” is the “hook” that many man-made churches are using in an effort to make the restrictive nature of God’s Word more palatable to the rank-and-file of society. The problem of trying to remove oneself from the rigors of God’s way is nothing new, and the Bible is replete with examples of God’s people trying such--but the result is always disastrous (cf. Joshua 7; 1 Samuel 8:6-19; et. al.). When will humanity learn that enduring happiness only comes from strict obedience to God’s way!?

    Second, when the lady made the observation that God’s love is always available to us, she was evidently thinking in terms of a father/child relationship, because she illustrated her point by referring to my love for Derek (my son), and emphasized that even though he may not always obey me, yet I would still love him. She is correct...I would still love my son. But she overlooked two things: 1) The way humans react to disobedience is not necessarily the same way God reacts ( Isaiah 55:8-9), and therefore any comparison would be uncertain at best. God is absolutely holy, and cannot tolerate disobedience (Isaiah 59:1-2), whereas humans, by comparison, are “evil” (Matthew 7:11) and often do tolerate disobedience.  2) Even though God loves every person (Jn. 3:16), and wants every person to be saved eternally (2 Peter 3:9), most of humanity will be condemned (Matthew 7:13-14) because of their failure to DO God’s will (cf. Matthew 7:22-23; 25:41-45).

     Friends and brethren, let us always remember that a relationship with God can either be good or bad. The deciding factor between the two is whether or not one obeys God’s will (Matthew 7:24-27). May God bless us as we strive to have a good relationship with Him!