A relationship with God, however, is different than relationships with other humans in some significant ways.
We don’t physically see God. That makes it hard for us to relate to Him.
We don’t talk to God like we do each other. Prayer is not natural. God speaks to us inside our hearts in a different way than using spoken language. That can make it hard for us to relate to Him.
God requires us to come into a relationship with Him through salvation to give us the foundation for the relationship He wants to build with us. So, to really know Him, you must come into a covenant with Him through the process of salvation. Everyone who is seeking to understand God will never truly know Him until they are saved. That is just a few of the ways that relating to God is different than relating to each other.
Understanding all of the differences between relating to God and each other may help us understand why we are sometimes frustrated in our relationship with God. After living as a Christian for 20 years, I have been frustrated in my relationship with God at times. It also may help to explain why it becomes difficult for some to keep serving Christ and others to never begin a relationship with Him.
God desires a relationship with us. But, as with all relationships, it takes work.
It especially takes work to have a relationship with God. In the garden of Eden, God walked with mankind in the cool of the day. He would come down in that perfect environment and speak with Adam and Eve face to face. Though He was a different form, they could still relate to Him as a creation made in His image. After the fall, God distanced Himself from mankind because of sin. He then mostly spoke only in an audible voice from heaven. Then, as time went by, He began to use prophets to convey His will to mankind until the last prophet, John the Baptist. After John, things changed a great deal.
When Jesus came to this earth, He was God incarnate (in the flesh) to reveal to all mankind the nature and character of God. Jesus related to us in a way that was familiar. He looked like us, walked like us; but when He spoke, His words had the power to give life. God wanted to relate to us through His Son so that we could see Him and know Him. Jesus completed the perfect sacrifice necessary for us to have a closer relationship with Him than was ever possible before.
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, God released His own Spirit into this earth to live in our hearts. When Jesus takes up residence in us, we then can have a close relationship to Him.
Sin has complicated our relationship with God. Jesus came and offered forgiveness for that sin so that He once again could have relationship with us.
In Galatians 5:17, the scripture states, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. God relates to us now through His Spirit in a spiritual way.
The Bible tells us 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” All relationships take work. But our relationship with God takes more, mainly because our flesh works against us in cultivating our relationship with God. We must look for God and expect Him where He is.
God is a spirit, and so we must relate to Him through the spirit. We do this through prayer, reading His Word, fellowship with other believers, and worship.
A relationship with God is not “automatic.” Neither are any of the other relationships in our lives. Relationships take effort. If we never talk to our spouses, our marriage relationships will quickly suffer. If we never pray, our relationship with God will also suffer.
Salvation is only the beginning of a relationship with God. If you want to really know Him, you’ve got to hang around Him awhile. If we make an effort, God will bless that effort.
God wants everyone to know Him. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Our efforts to know Him will be matched with a response from Him. He promises those that seek Him will find Him. A relationship with God may be different than our relationships with each other, but with a little effort, we can know Him — and the benefits of that relationship are out of this world.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Marshall Raney is the pastor of the Lynch Church of God. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com