God, our Heavenly Father, has always desired to be close to us, to have a relationship with us. As Christians, we acknowledge that God exists and that Christ was resurrected. Despite knowing this, many of us have absolutely no idea what it means to have a relationship with God. What does it mean to trust God? What is expected of us and what should we expect from God? Should one pray despite the feeling that no one is listening? The problem for many Christians is that the beginning of our relationships with God is not motivated by love but by expectation. A lot of us grow up in churches that tell us that having a relationship with God comes with the territory of belief. We know we are expected to have a relationship with God, but don’t otherwise feel led to cultivate a relationship with God. When we open our hearts to a real relationship with God through Christ, we discover God’s unconditional love for us and it stirs up a passion inside of us to love people. We don’t have to struggle to do the things He calls us to do because we are secure in Him.
One of God’s key commandments is to “honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). God has created a great relationship model for us but too few of us are actually experiencing this beautiful relationship. If you have had the experience of a loving father and mother who set examples of love and respect for each other and also showed you what it means to love unconditionally, you already have a solid understanding of the type of relationship God wants with you. However, if you come from a broken home, you may struggle with the loving Father concept.
The relationship that God wants to have with us is rooted in love. John 3:16 is the perfect example of God’s perfect love for you: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. No other verse in the Bible summarizes God’s relationship with humanity and His ultimate love for us. It tells us that the love God has for us and the extent of that love is so great that He sacrificed His only Son on our behalf. God’s love for us inspires our love for God.
Many of us have heard someone say “I want to be close to God” or “I feel far from Jesus” or have even said some of these things ourselves. We say these things because we have been led to believe our relationship with Jesus is based on proximity – a sliding scale of near and far based on faithfulness of our spiritual devotion. But a relationship with Jesus requires more than just being close with Him. Jesus longs to become perfectly one with you. God takes residence in us, invites us to die to ourselves and become a new creation in Him. He invites us into an intimate relationship with Him: union with Christ. Union with Christ refers to relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ. There are countless passages throughout the Bible that reveal that believers are joined in Christ: We are the branches and Jesus is the vine (John 15:5); Jesus is the head and we are His body (1 Corinthians 6:15019); Christ is the foundation and we are living stones in the foundation (1 Peter 2:4-5). Nothing is more basic or central to knowing and enjoying God than union with Christ. It’s at the heart of our Christian faith. Jesus Christ is dwelling in us and because of this, Jesus is available to us anytime and in anyplace because we believe.
God desires to welcome you into His eternal family as His glorified child. It’s important that you make it a priority to grow in your relationship with Him. Having a personal relationship with God begins the moment we realize our need for Him, admit that we fall short as sinners, and in faith receive Jesus Christ as Savior. As soon as we become children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit, who will begin to work on our hearts. Include God in your daily life. Pray to Him, read His Word daily and reflect on verses in Scripture in an effort to know Him better. Trusting in God to get us through each day and believing that He is the true sustainer of life is how we can not only begin, but also sustain a personal relationship with Him.