The Nuts and Bolts of Relationship

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 ESV

We must uncover the nuts and bolts of genuinely connecting with God. Some have tasted all too deeply of the bitter brew called, "Just Try Harder." Somehow there appears to be no direct connection between fasting, prayers, Bible study, and the indwelling of God's life-giving spirit, why is that? Perhaps Christianity is less of a formula and something more basic. Too many extremely diligent Christians are on the verge of total collapse due to a confusion between self-discipline and righteousness. Is it possible to have a vigorous "devotional life" and yet be utterly misguided in religious zeal? This problem seems to be as ancient as the record of fallen men. 

To get us headed in the right direction let us stop and make a clear distinction between two very different yet often confused concepts. Information is an extremely painful substitute for knowledge when it comes to growing in a meaningful relationship with our Creator. The more information a group is privileged with the higher the danger becomes of confusing it with knowledge. The Jews clearly fell prey to this to such an extent that Christ accused them of thinking their eternal life presided in their familiarity with the scriptures when all the time they were blind to the one the scriptures bore witness to. 

Adventists are especially vulnerable to information/knowledge confusion. The pen of inspiration has revealed to us what God was up to in the past, where he is at work in the present, and even how he plans to wrap things up in the future. How could one possibly encounter so much of what God has done and still miss the God who is doing it? Yet we do it all too often. While information about what God is doing is of great value, understanding the heart that actuates his mighty deeds is paramount. After all God could have an angle couldn't he? Satan never denied what was evident for all to see, he simply maligned God's motives and has been doing so in our hearts ever since. Every wonderful gift from above can only truly be appreciated if it lifts our eyes to consider the selfless heart of love that desires to shower us with good because it is simply his nature to do so. 

So how do we break free from simply being aware of what God does and move toward grasping the nature of his heart? For starters simply acknowledging a flaw in our conception of God is a great first step. Beyond this we must inquire of God what we truly believe about him. Is our concept of God faithful to the vision he reveals of himself in scripture? Remember, it is only a knowledge of the one true God which fills us with life. What we believe about God is flawed from birth and is often sadly complicated during our religious instruction. We may say that we believe God is a good father but in our heart of hearts we are bitter and angry at him for reasons we likely don't understand. 

Every form of sin in our lives is symptomatic of a faulty concept of our heavenly father. It takes humility and bravery to consider that some of what we think we believe about God may in fact be a form of unconscious self-deception. Having confusion regarding who God is does not mean we don't have a genuine relationship with him. Our growth in grace is a continual journey into a deeper more accurate conception of our Heavenly Father. We all have blind spots. Some of our blind spots are of a nature that keep us from trusting God altogether, others simply cause us to die upon hills of our own imagination. Often our blind spots regarding God's character lead to unnecessary divisions among believers. The more we understand the love and wisdom of God, the more joy filled, effective, and unified we will be in shining brighter and brighter until that perfect day.

Still Seeking His Face,

Pastor Andrew

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