HOW DO I BEGIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
Did you notice how this question is worded? It speaks about a personal relationship with God, which lies at the heart of what Christianity is all about. Christianity is not first of all a set of ethical teachings advising people about how they should live. It is not a way to get God on your side so that things will go well in your life. It is not saying some prayer that delivers you from eternal punishment. It is about a relationship with God. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
The relationship between God and man is the story of the Bible, beginning with creation.
God created a perfect world and placed in that world two of his image bearers, Adam and Eve. God’s purpose was to give mankind the greatest gift imaginable: everlasting joy and fulfillment in sharing God’s life with him.
But Adam and Eve rebelled, concluding that real happiness would come to them only as they went their own way instead of God’s. They were guilty of mutiny against their Creator, and the children of Adam have all joined this mutiny. Like Adam and Eve, we have concluded that God’s reign is the problem, and we believe we could do a much better job than God in running our lives. We all want nothing less than to replace God as King of the universe.
The results of this rebellion continue the same for us as for Adam and Eve. As soon as they rebelled through eating the forbidden fruit, they were aware of an emptiness deep in their souls. We too know that emptiness. We think that happiness will come with some new experience or acquisition. “When I fall in love and get married, then I’ll be happy.” Or we think that when some financial goal is achieved or we’re able to buy the lake house we’ve always dreamed of, then the satisfaction will come. But it is like trying to hold water in your hands—it leaks out no matter how hard you try holding it. We are left with a gaping emptiness deep in our souls. Many try to cope with this emptiness through staying busy or through some form of denial, but the effort is never permanently successful. We may believe other people are somehow preventing us from entering into this satisfaction, and we respond by getting angry. Or we may try to get others to serve us by somehow bringing that satisfaction to us, and all we end up doing is hurting them and driving them away.
The story doesn’t end with mankind’s mutiny and the loss of the paradise God had intended for him. God had a plan for restoring mankind, though it would be very costly for God. He sent his only Son to live the life Adam should have lived and to die the death Adam and all his descendents deserved to die. Jesus came to provide a way for humanity to be pardoned for their mutinous ways. He did this through the sacrifice of his own life. The Bible teaches that it is only the blood of Jesus which can cleanse us of our sin. Notice how clear the Bible is about this:
“We have now been justified by his blood.” Romans 5:9
“We have redemption through his blood.” Ephesians 1:7
“Much more will the blood of Christ… purify our conscience.” Hebrews 9:14
“The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
“To him who… has freed us from our sins by his blood.” Revelation 1:5
We begin this relationship with God through faith.
But not everyone benefits from this cleansing by Jesus’ blood. It is possible to miss the cleansing he offers. It is received by faith. What does that mean? It means not only to agree in your mind to the facts as stated above, but also to trust Jesus as the only one who can cleanse you and bring you back into a relationship with God. The opposite of trusting Jesus is not doubting him, but putting your trust elsewhere. Everyone trusts in someone or something. Many trust in their own ability to run their lives. Others trust in being well-liked or accomplished in some area. These things are not wrong in themselves, but become very wrong when we trust in them to do for us what only God through Jesus can do. To trust Jesus is to look to him alone: Jesus plus nothing. He’s all you need for cleansing, for eternal life, and for living in this present world.
Such faith might be expressed through a prayer like this:
“God, I see that I have been guilty of a type of mutiny against you. I am deeply flawed because I have turned my back on you, my Creator, and have preferred instead to run my own life. I turn from trusting myself or anything else, and I now rest in what you have done in sending Jesus. I trust him alone for forgiveness and for my acceptance into your family.”
What if I’m not ready for this?
Don’t put this matter on the back burner of life. Remember that if Christianity is true, then God is your Creator. That means that you owe him your life and your worship, regardless of how you may feel about that. Consider asking God to convince you of these things (he is God after all). Consider also asking a Christian friend to discuss these things with you. Begin to attend a church service where the Bible is taught. Read a book such as the C. S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity. And continue seeking. His word says,“If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9).