Skip to main content

So, how’s your relationship?

People in relationships often ask themselves, at some level of consciousness or another, how they feel the relationship is going. Particularly they ask themselves, “how am I benefiting from the relationship” or “what am I getting out of the relationship?” And in a healthy romantic relationship, a person would ask him/herself, “I wonder if s/he is benefiting from or enjoying the relationship, and me?” These are the kinds of questions that healthy people would ask themselves in healthy relationships, as long as their expectations aren’t unreasonable or overly selfish.

We also have to evaluate our relationship with God, but we can’t evaluate this relationship in quite the same way. To simply ask, “how am I benefiting from this relationship with God” in the same way would be egocentric. A better way to approach this question would be to ask yourself, “for what specific things am I thankful to God?” and to reflect on all his mercies, grace, and blessings to you – material blessings and especially spiritual blessings. It is especially important to really thank him every day for the cross and our salvation, and his forgiveness. Thanksgiving is a fundamental part of worship; and it refocuses our mental life and helps to re-align our thinking with his will.

How you benefit from your relationship with God really depends on you. God desires to bless us, but we have check our hearts. First, what kinds of blessings do we expect in this relationship? To expect an easy life, material blessings, and such are not the blessings that God has in mind, and these things are not really blessings if they are our priority. These would be unhealthy expectations, and will only set us up for disappointment when we don’t get them. Rather, the most important blessings in this relationship are God’s presence, closeness to God, the presence and filling of his Spirit in us, experiencing his love, his power in us. God himself is our main blessing. God himself is the main benefit and reward, not things that we can get from him. To focus on getting things from him easily becomes an idolatry of the heart, if we don’t seek God first. If our main expectation is seeking God more than anything, we won’t be disappointed; if we ask and seek with sincere hearts, he will always respond. From this follow secondary expectations and blessings – answered prayers, being used by God, and answers to prayers for specific needs of ours (needs, not necessarily wants).

So does God “benefit” from the relationship? Well, there’s nothing of worth that we can give an already infinite and omnipotent God. He doesn’t need the relationship or us, per se. But he wants us, because he loves us. He wants us to spend time with him, fellowship with him, and submit to him; he wants to bless us, simply because he is a loving God. Not only does he desire our attention, but he desires, expects and deserves our full worship and devotion.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion...” [Psalm 103.2-4].

[OEM Newsletter, Dec. 2009]


Popular posts from this blog

Portraits of Christ: John’s Gospel, part 2

In John’s Gospel we have an emphasis on Jesus that is unique compared to the other gospels. John not only emphasizes his deity, but his mysteriousness. The reader is left with an impression of Jesus as a mystical teacher, in the sense that his words and actions are not only those of a profound religious teacher, but of one who is other-worldly. So often in this gospel we read of Jesus making statements that the crowds, the religious teachers, and even his own disciples sometimes could not fathom. For starters, there are the “I am” statements (e.g., I am the bread of life; I am the living water; I am the good shepherd; I am the way, the truth, and the life), which were clearly claims to divinity, for these statements in the Jewish context referred to God’s title “I am,” given when Moses inquired of his name at the burning bush. Jesus makes much use of mystical metaphors like these and others, like all the ‘day’ and ‘night’ references in this book, which portrays him as mystical or my

Book review: Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)

Green eggs and ham, as a recolorized staple breakfast food, captures the reader's attention by turning this diurnal sustenance into an unexpected and apparently unappetizing foodstuff. It thus symbolizes the existential angst of modern life, wherein we are unfulfilled by modern life, and are repelled by something that might impart nourishment. The "protagonist" to be convinced of its desirability remains anonymous, while the other actor refers to himself with an emphatic identifier "Sam I am", formed with a pronominal subject and copular verb of existence. This character thus seeks to emphasize his existence and existential wholeness, and even establish a sense of self-existence, with an apparent Old Testament allusion to Elohim speaking to Moses as the "I Am". This emphatic personal identifier thus introduces a prominent theme of religious existentialism to the narrative, probably more in line with original Kierkegaardian religious existentialism, rat

Gossip, accusation and spiritual warfare

Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” [1 Cor. 12:20]. Gossip is diagnosed as a serious spiritual problem, not a harmless form of conversation and social entertainment, as many in the secular world would view it.   God views it differently. Gossip is the opposite of the love and grace that God wants to display in our lives. Gossip is often exaggerated (and thus, untrue), or outright fabricated. Even church people engage in gossip in a seemingly sanctimonious guise (“We really ought to pray for X – you wouldn’t believe what he told me yesterday!...”). Whether secular or “christianized,” gossip betrays trust.          “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” [Prov. 11:13]; “A perverse person stirs up dissension, and a goss