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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]

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