The Ten Commandments deal with our relationships. The first four commandments are about our relationship to God. The next six are about our relationships with other people. Preachers often encourage us to have "close personal relationship" with God. We know that a close relationship with God is important, but what does that really mean? How do you have a close, personal relationship with the Creator God of the Universe? It is hard enough to maintain close relationships with our friends and family - and we can see and touch them. I think this is an important topic. Our culture needs some spiritual heroes again. Who would you say is our "Moses" today? Who is our Joshua? Who is our Paul? What if it is supposed to be you? I'm looking for people who will manifest the greatness of God in their lives. So...how do we humbly ask God to be great in us? It begins with knowing that God matters more than anything else. Your relationship with God will impact every other relationship in your life. So let's start there.
It is interesting to realize that the first four commandments are about knowing God. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the garden of Eden. Their sin caused them to feel distant from him and afraid of his presence. From than time until now, God has been trying to show his children how to have a "Garden of Eden" relationship with him. That is why the first four commandments are about knowing God. Those commandments reveal God's number one priority. He loves you and wants to walk and talk with you. So here are four ways to make that possible:
Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me." There is a reason we use a small "g" when we talk about other gods. There is God and there is everyone and everything else. The first thing God wanted his people to know was that nothing should be more important than knowing him. Is knowing God a high enough priority in your life? How good is your relationship with your husband going to be if you want to know his buddy better than you want to know him? How will your kids feel if you want to spend time with their friends more than with them? God's first priority is that you know him. A close relationship with God begins there.
Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol..." Study the phrase "make for yourself." That is a good way to define what an idol really is. God dug the Grand Canyon using no machinery or explosives. What can you dig with your own hands? A close relationship with God means realizing how much better it is to have what he provides than what we can dig up on our own. We keep trying to climb the ladder of success and God keeps trying to tell us that there is nothing up there worth having. A close relationship with God means understanding that he wants to give you the best things, but he can't if you keep trying to run after the lesser things. How much dirt is under your fingernails? Which hole do you need to stop digging and crawl out of today?
Exodus 20:7 "Do not misuse the name of the Lord..." The "name of the Lord" means his character, the essence of who He is. And God is perfect. Misusing his name isn't just what you might say in a fit of anger. It is misrepresenting who He is to the rest of the world. We misuse the Lord's name every time we act like He isn't enough; Every time we doubt He isn't real; Every time we let our weakness overshadow his greatness; Every time we claim the glory that belongs to him. If you want to improve your relationship with God, stop misrepresenting him to other people. How would Jim feel if I went around telling people he wasn't good enough . . . and he isn't even perfect! (Just almost.)
Exodus 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy..." Dr. Phil keeps telling us we need to schedule a "date night" if we want to maintain a good marriage. If you want a good relationship with God you have to set aside some time that is uniquely given to him. Just him. How great would date night be if you brought along your kids, your friends or your troubles? The way to keep the Sabbath holy is to set apart that time, separate it from every other activity, priority and concern -- and just enjoy the One you are with. Every close, personal relationship requires time devoted exclusively to the other person. Why will you go to church this next Sunday?
Four ways to know God better. I hope you will.
Janet Denison is the Director of Spiritual Formation for the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, and the author of Content to be Good, Called to by Godly. She is a popular speaker for church and community events, and a respected Bible teacher. Janet blogs regularly at www.janetdenison.com. To connect with Janet in social media, visit www.twitter.com/janet_denison or www.facebook.com/janetldenison.