If we are going to use the word "relationship," we need to understand that we must be speaking of something less than a mutual relationship with God. There is much in our current books and music that suggests that God is our friend. Practically every movie where God shows up, he is portrayed as a friendly old man, and for some reason usually black. But take a look at what John, the one whom Jesus loved, says about this, and tell me how mutual it sounds:
- We love because he first loved us.
- If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
- You are my friends, if you do what I command.
- Those who say, "I know him," but do not do what he commands are liars, and the truth is not in them.
- This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only,who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
He can call us his friends, but do we dare call him our friend? I wonder...
However, if this "relationship" is much less than the mutual thing the word suggests, it is also much more than a Creator/creature relationship. Think of the word pictures God uses to describe himself to those who have faith in him: Father, Lord, Helper, Comforter, Provider. The Diest is wrong to think of God as having wound up this world like a watch and left us to run on our own. He is everywhere, in everything, intensely involved in every aspect of his creation. In him all things hold together; in him we all have our being. He has chosen to love us, but also to be grieved by us, quenched by us, put on a cross by us... for us...
No, I'm sorry: "Relationship with God" will not do at all. No wonder real translations of the Bible never use the term. So what terms do they use?
- Fellowship with God: More than cookies and church juice after the service. This is to "have things in common;" it speaks of intimate participation and communion. And it's a one way street - we must have things in common with him, or there is no fellowship.
- Walk with God: Again, to walk with God means to go where he goes. He never tags along with us. It is a lifestyle of following him.
- Godliness: That consciousness of God that molds our character, values, principles and desires to his. An "old-fashioned" word that is a great loss to the modern church.
- Knowing God: So deep, no room to describe here.
- Loving God: Deeper still. And impossible until we have come to know his love for us.