What is the purpose of a relationship with Christ?
One of the things that has stood out to me as I have started my own personal devotional journey through the bible, looking for the personal relationship the Lord has with people, is that Adam walked in the garden with the Lord. This is a most important verse to me. I might say quite pivotal to the idea that the Lord is not a King far away on a throne but wants to have a personal and intimate relationship with us. The idea of God coming down on a daily basis to talk with Adam covers me in chills and it truly blows my mind. When I turn on the news and see yet more which troubles me it is the knowledge of the Lord's desire for this personal relationship with me that keeps me.
Yet what I then find frustrating about myself is that knowing this relationship is important doesn't then seem to be enough for me to put the effort from my side. I wonder if you feel the same way at times. Now I am not talking about a rigid or semi rigid devotional time. A time where I read a portion of my bible and pray. I am talking about a real life talking relationship with Christ. Yo yoing between periods of silence and then short self centered prayers about my current issues. If knowing the Lord wants to talk is important why is it so hard on my side to talk.
This issue is not just my own. Adam and Eve had a relationship with the Lord that is unequalled. The nearest to walking and talking in the garden with God was the disciples relationship with Jesus during His three year ministry. We obviously have far more account of what that was than Adam and Eve's account. Yet it is our first parents aversion of relationship that the Lord wants to restore. Adam and Eve knew that it was God, the creator of the heavens and earth with who they were talking they had no Faith issue. The disciples had times when Jesus human frailties caused their Faith to wain. It is the conversation with the Lord now or knowing that we can which encourages and increases our Faith. It is the strength of that Faith, the ability to talk with Christ as though He were physically before you, which often belongs to the men and women of God who do extraordinary things. What must it have been like for Adam and Eve to walk so closely in such a conversational manner with the boundaries of humanity and eternal creator removed. One day we will know but it is the giving up of this boundary less conversation which is the real paradise lost. It is also the point of my blog today. Why did they give it up? I've shown in a previous blog 'a good salesman can sell you what you can have for free', that it was Adam and Eves desire to be as God and have more which caused them to give it up. In that blog i also showed that what the Lord is doing is getting us to the point where when the same choice is given to us then we choose Christ every time. This indicates that we are not there yet. You see Adam could walk and talk with God but quite willingly gave that up. It is the same manner which is why we also have the chance to walk and talk with God, although not exactly in the same manner, but also fail to see that for the treasure it is and put the effort we should. Yet when I think about it although Adam had the opportunity to walk and talk with the Lord He had nowhere to go.
It may surprise you to know that I do like to go walking. I have lived on the edge of some beautiful countryside and I love to go walking in it. However there is a caveat to me go walking in the countryside. That caveat is that I need to have a reason to do it. Just to go and see the countryside is not enough of a reason for me. When I decide to go I need a destination and a reason for it; or it needs to be for a purpose, to have a conversation with the Lord or with a friend about an issue they are struggling with. If I take that to my ability to walk and talk with the Lord then the answer for me is that I need a destination and a purpose in my walk with the Lord.
Now you might be wondering if I am suggesting somehow that because the Lord did not provide such a thing for Adam then it was really God's fault Adam rejected Him. Rest assured I am not saying that. The Lord gave Adam a purpose and a purpose to their conversation. Adam was to look after the garden and so he had much to discuss with the Lord. He also had a relationship with the Lord to grow, giving reason to talk. Both of these things are also true, in a sense, to me and others. I have a relationship to grow with the Lord which truly gives me a reason to talk. I also, as Ephesians 2:10 tells us, have a calling given to me before the foundations of the world. I have my garden to tend and a conversation I need to have with the Lord about it. So what is the hinderance, what is stopping me?
This is why my devotional life is currently around this topic of relationship. It is a discovery of what it should be and what it shouldn't be in order that it is all that it could be.
In Adam's case the rejection of his conversational relationship has a lesson for us. Adam's reason was that he wanted what the Lord wanted for him but on Adam's terms and not God's. the Lord wants us to be filled with His glory Adam wanted his own glory to be as God's. This is the great challenge that goes out to all of us. What is it that we want? do we want to be glorified or do we want to glorify God. The one who wants to glorify themselves will see the Lord as a route to it. Thus the relationship has a purpose but a corrupted one. Now I would like to think that my purpose is not to use God in order to glorify myself. An important distinction for someone who's ministry is to produce online content for a large audience. That is my journey but what about yours. What is the purpose of your relationship with the Lord is it to use the Lord to glorify yourself?
What our relationship with the Lord should be is shown in how the Lord asked us to live under grace. At the last supper the Lord gave us this commandment, which although Jesus called it the new commandment, it was not a new law but the summing up of.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. John 13:34
The law asks us to love one another. The word for love here is Agape, which is the unconditional love of God. It is only a love we have when we love God. When we try to do it of ourselves we do it in the Philo sense. Philo means love that has a connection such as a relative or a friend. We try to love strangers by finding something to love about them when there is no relational requirement of love. Yet the Lord's command is not to find that, some people really are unlovable. It is to act in a loving way because i am doing it for the Lord. Hence why the next verse says
By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another.
Now although this is about how we the church should act to one another it also tells us what our relationship with the Lord should be like. It should be one that glorifies Him to others. God is not our shortcut to another life. The Lord is not ours to order around in order to protect us. The Lord is looking for an intense relationship which is in fact about the relationship. In such a way we glorify Him to others encouraging them to also develop a relationship with Him.
When the focus of a relationship moves from how you are being fulfilled in it to how can help the other be fulfilled a selfless but generous sharing relationship is born. It is in this that the purpose to talk with the Lord develops. I once had a friend who said he didnt like prayer meetings because they went on longer than the list of things he had to ask God. Doe this make a penny drop. It does for me and it challenges my conversation with the Lord. We read of many characters who walked with the Lord, Abraham, David and Elijah to name just some. All of them had bad days and even falling out's with the Lord. Yet there lives were ones which was dedicated to the purpose and calling of their lives but defined by how they talked with the Lord. Abraham had tea with God; David wrote poetry to Him often at difficult times of trouble; Elijah spoke to God from the depths of His depression. They all asked God for things but they were things in relation to the Lord's calling in their lives in order that His glory might be made known. A relationship with God is this two way conversation where each party wants to glorify the other.
And so I leave you with this challenge. What is hindering your relationship with the Lord. Are you seeking His good and glory or are you focusing on How the Lord glorifies you.
Know the purpose of the relationship