Do you have a Scriptural Relationship with God?

Hebrews 5:7 “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.” Something so key in the kind of relationship God desires from man is reflected in this verse we read here. It appears this verse is recounting back to when Jesus was being crucified, when before his death, he let out a loud cry. Now the interesting thing to think about here is why God heard Jesus’s loud crying. It was not because of the sentimentality that was expressed, but it was because of His piety.

In the Greek, the word for piety according to blueletterbible.org is eulabeia. Now full disclosure, there were two other definitions of this word, which stated it could mean caution or anxiety. Now perhaps one of those other definitions could make sense for this verse, but what would appear to make most sense is the second definition that was provided which stated it means reverence, and particularly reverence to God. For those who don’t know what reverence means, it essentially means respect. If you look at the next verse after this one, it talks about obedience to God and suffering, which would seem more to correlate with the meaning of the word piety in this verse being reverence to God, rather than meaning caution or anxiety.

So in following this conclusion, I suggest to you that it’s clear through Scripture, that the kind of relationship God desires from mankind is not one mainly of expressed sentimentality, but one of displayed reverence. Christianity is often culturally defined today as a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. The “Personal Relationship” theory essentially argues that God primarily desires one’s deepest emotions and feelings, and in one giving these things to God, God takes one on a journey of self-growth and self-fulfillment of their deepest desires. But we have to ask the question, is this kind of relationship the kind that God desires and displays with people in Scripture? Well, we just looked at that verse in Hebrews that showed that God had regard for Jesus because of His reverence for Him, and not because of the displayed emotion he let out in that moment. And this theme of reverence is found very often throughout Scripture. Consider how Jesus was often referred as by people and the Disciples in these verses.

Matthew 8:19 “Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Matthew 12:38 “[The Desire for Signs] Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

Matthew 19:16 “[The Rich Young Ruler] And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”

Matthews 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.”

Thus one aspect of the kind of relationship Jesus (and thus consequently God) desired and displayed with men, was that of a spiritual guide showing us the way of Truth, and how to live in that Truth for the glory of God. Jesus is often also referred to as Master throughout Scripture. Read the following verses carefully.

Matthew 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.”

Luke 5:5 “Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”

Luke 8:24 “They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.”

Luke 17:13 “and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Now people at times look at the term master in a negative connotation, but the word in the Greek for master is epistates, which essentially means superintendent or overseer. So by choosing to be referred to as master, and in the prior verses we looked at as teacher, it’s evident the kind of relationship Jesus desired from mankind was that of one to be highly revered as a leader and a spiritual guide of Truth. Now we’ve considered how Jesus was acknowledged by people, not in a super sentimental buddy buddy kind of way, but referred to in a reverential way through the terms teacher and master. Let’s also consider the purpose of the interactions.

When Jesus interacted with the disciples, was he at any point wanting to know what their emotions were? Did He desire to know how they felt inside or what they desired for their own fulfillment in the future? To my knowledge in Scripture, that’s generally not the case. Now this isn’t to suggest Jesus was cold hearted, because he expressed sentimental emotions occasionally, such as when he wept in John 11. But these and other occasions are of secondary focus, and what was the primary focus in Jesus’s interactions with people were not based on necessarily desiring to hear their expressed sentiments, but more so to teach them the way of the Truth that is authentic in living for God. Many times the people communicated with Jesus they were always asking Him questions about that. So the main purpose of all interactions were focused on glorifying God, and not based on the type of emotionality that cultural Christianity defines today as “intimacy”.

One thing I don’t want to be misunderstood, I’m not suggesting at all that there is no closeness with God. What I’m suggesting to you is that the closeness God desires of us is not one primarily based in sentimentality as the “Personal Relationship” theology argues, but one based in reverential obedience. Consider this statement made by Jesus to the disciples about what love to Him is. Jesus states in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. So in this verse, obedience to Jesus, and thus God, is the kind of love that God wants from man. Love is not a feeling as many confuse it to be, but as the Greek term agape reflects its exhibiting selfless goodwill. The kind of love God gives us is that of selfless goodwill as well, number one example of which was Jesus dying on the cross for us.

Now are there instances that God wants to hear personal things of us, sure. He wants to hear our requests in times of distress as Philippians 4:6-7 illustrates. He also wants us to consistently communicate to him as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 states. But keep in mind also, these were instructions that Paul gave as the Word from God which is expected to be obeyed, and thus goes back to the reverential obedience as being the primary aspect of the relationship between man and God. The selfless goodwill exhibited through action in consistently making an effort to follow the instructions of the Word is what God desires and is pleased with.

This concept of God wanting to have a primarily sentimental-based relationship with us for the main purpose of our own personal growth and self-fulfillment seems to not be in correlation with Scripture. It frankly overly humanizes Him to our level of inaccuracy in understanding how relationships work. As I’ve stated in a previous post, while the instructions of the Word secondarily can cause growth in a person by the person changing their behavior in line with those instructions, and secondarily causes some fulfillment in life by the ease of stress that can occur when following God’s instructions, the primary purpose is for His glory and the advancing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we discussed earlier, reverential obedience pleases God, which is the selfless goodwill (love) we give to Him in our side of the relationship, while the selfless goodwill (love) He has given us on His side of the relationship is our hope in a future eternal reward, and the knowledge and information we need to be content in the trials of this world that we live in until then.

This appears to be the more accurately Scriptural kind of relationship God desires and displayed with men. I hope you will seriously consider this alternative understanding by taking off the lens of the “Personal Relationship” theory you may have been taught, and really observing from an unbiased perspective what the text states and illustrates as the kind of relationship God desires of man. Peace to all those who are in Christ.

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6 thoughts on “Do you have a Scriptural Relationship with God?

  1. Very thought provoking piece…
    Its spot on particularly concerning ’emotional sentimsntalism’ that iften leads to over-familiarity & loss of reverential fear..correct on all counts….

    However we must forget 2things
    1) just as my 3year old is with me-in our spiritual infancy there is room for this..GOD IS THE Father after all…and the most loving one at that……….so toleration at that stage isnt out of the question

    2) Christ himself ‘imploded’ the very concept of relationship when he cane praying ‘Abba Father’….which strongs describes as :
    bá – “Father,” also used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e. in an affectionate, dependentrelationship with their father; “daddy,” “papa.”

    I agree most churches have taken this too far across the territory into outright disrespect, there us also a danger of swinging in the extreme opposite direction which will produce nothing more than joyless religious ‘acquaintance’ ..

    Thanks for the timely reminder …ive made a note ti inject a more respectful tone hence forth.

    • Very true. God is referred to as Father, and once one is in Christ, then they are referred to as His child. We indeed have to recognize how God relates to people as both loving Father as well as revered Master and Teacher. An extreme of either fails to really capture the whole Scriptural picture of who God is. I neglected to include this in my post, and I thank you for bringing to mind this understanding as well.

  2. You have said so many things there… we must learn not to put God in a narrow road and define him based only on our own perceptions. However true or convincing we believe our ideology is does not make it the absolute truth that will cause everyone to disregard what they know.

    God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform, hence we must make provisions in our heart to also learn from people whom God may have lead in a different way from what we know. God desires to have relationship with us intimately, scripturally and all round. God wants to own every part of us both spiritually, physically, emotionally etc. Of course our relationship with God is scriptural. He demands obedience not out of duty but out of love.

    If God does not require a sentimental relationship, how come he called David a man after my heart? Because throughout the book of Psalms, David displayed every emotions and sentiments like any other man. And through his outpourings, God saw his heart and realised this man understands me despite David’s countless sins and shortcomings as king? James 5:17- described Elijah as a man with like passions like us, yet God used him. A man with lots of emotions and sentiments…

    Moreover, if we read the bible especially from Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, etc you will find God lamenting, displaying sentiments over His lost sheep Israel. Also in Isa 66:13, Psa 103:13- God has compassion as a father and comforts like a mother.

    What is do we mean by personal relationship? It means your relationship with God is personal to you. Your daily work with God, your interaction, faith, obedience, communication, instruction, guidance, prayer, bible studying, cries of pain, outbursts of joy, when sad, when bereaved, when promoted, etc etc everything you do alone do with God. It’s like saying your personal relationship with your wife or husband. It’s personal because it’s peculiar to you. You know him or her much more differently than what the public sees. Likewise, each of us know and see God work in our lifes very differently from the way the public view him. From the time we make a personal quiet prayer or thanks in our heart to the time we just sing praises loudly exalting Him in public. It’s personal because it involves how He speaks to you alone, he knows how to get your attention and speaks in words only you can understand. The bible says we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ… 2 Cor 5:10. Each of us will account for our deeds because it’s a personal race. No matter how my mum loves me, she cannot account for me because it’s personal, it’s solely between me and God. It’s personal because it’s a commitment you first make in your heart to God. Why do you pray to God quietly in your heart? Mostly because you have a personal relationship with Him.

    That been said, Hebrews 11:30 God is a consuming fire. A God of justice and holiness. So we must not take him for granted and behave anyhow we like, King Saul and many others and even our own personal experiences with God will remind us that there God desires our full obedience.
    Finally, let’s endeavour to have a balanced view on the matter as extremism on either side would be unhealthy to our personal relationship and walk with God.😊

    • Hello Dream Desire Achieve. Thank you for your comment. You’re right, one can’t define God by only our perceptions because our perceptions are flawed and can only comprehend so much. I do my best to try to avoid understanding God through my perception and choose to understand Him through his perception being the scripture. I’m certainly not always able to comprehend exactly what His perception is (if I am even comprehending at all), but I believe all we can do is do our best to understand based on what God specifically communicates to us in scripture.

      With that said, respectfully, I would suggest to you that I never stated sentimentality wasn’t apart of the equation of connection with God. I merely communicated that it seems to be overemphasized in comparison to how much God desires reverence of us. We can perhaps agree to disagree which one is conveyed more in scripture, but it’s important to acknowledge both equally. I’ve found in Christian media and Christian pop culture only the former of sentimentality is primarily portrayed in western society as the sole means of which one should connect with God. I find that to be unfortunate and missing a fundamental piece of the connections you see between man and God throughout scripture.

      So it was my intent in this post to shed light on this importance of reverence and obedience that God greatly appreciates of us in connection with Him. I appreciate you offering more of the other side of sentiment portrayed between man and God in your comment. That is important as well, and I pray we all can combine those two elements of connection with God equally and consistently in our connecting with Him.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      • Ok dear, I’m sorry if I sounded uppity, that was not intended. I am with you on the fact that one side should not be over-emphasised more than the other. It creates imbalanced and stunted growth in a christian. Back home in my country Nigeria, there is so much overemphasis on the Prosperity messages. 80% of people who go to church come because they want God to prosper them. No one is willing to work hard and wait patiently, everybody wants to be rich now and live in mansions. Hence preachers use this to prey on the gullible, demanding their members to sow this seed and that seed for God to bless them. It’s sad really when their is an overemphasis on any christian doctrine. 🙂 🙂

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