What defines your relationship with God? What kind of relationship is it?
We talk often about having a personal relationship with God, and too little about what that relationship looks like. After all, there are many different kinds of relationships in the world: healthy and unhealthy, good and bad. In a sense, everyone has a relationship with God, and they’re all intensely personal. So what defines a Christian’s relationship with God?
I find that we as people tend to latch on to one thing about God that we really like, and focus on that until we make it his whole character. Some people prefer to just think of God as loving. Some people prefer to just think of God as just. How we decide we want to see God has nothing to do with the way God is. God is not just or loving, he is just and loving.
In the same way, our relationship to God is more than one thing. Every meaningful relationship that we can have on earth is meant to illustrate another aspect of our relationship with God:
God is our father and we are his children: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” (1 John 3:1)
Jesus is the groom and we are the bride: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25); “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:2)
God is our friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14)
God is our master and we are his servants: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2); “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5)
How do you see God? As your father? Your friend? Your groom? Your boss? One label may mean more to you than the others, because it’s a relationship that you feel as though you’re lacking. Our fundamental human desire for connection is meant to drive us to God. That’s good, but in our quest to fill a certain type of void we should not mentally confine God to a single label. You must have a correct understanding of God before you can have a correct understanding of yourself. When you really understand both of those things, spiritual growth begins. Truth breeds change.