As a young Christian I was invited to a mainline church in Boise, Idaho to speak to the youth about what was happening in my life. After I had shared a little of my personal encounter with God, the leader of the church interrupted me, saying I was presumptuous for thinking the Creator of heaven and earth would stoop down to talk to a puny human. He rebuked me for being proud to think that God would be personally involved with me. I sat stunned as I realized that this man, responsible for thousands of others’ spiritual lives, was trying to lead them without personal direction and guidance from God.
The whole idea that men can have a personal relationship with God is an amazing and much-disputed idea among the religions of the world. Many religions feel that the idea of God precludes anything personal. In most religions, God is kept distant and impersonal, because he is considered too great to have any contact with mere humans. Many religions teach that in order to know God, we must become perfect, or at least a whole lot better than we are, if we are going to have any kind of relationship with God, the Creator.
The good news is that God wants us to know him! He wants us to be able to draw near to him. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22, NKJV).
We can come close to him, “through the veil”, by the blood of Jesus Christ. Matthew 27:51 reveals that at Jesus’ death on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn, “from top to bottom”. The direction of the tear of the thick horsehair felt temple veil, or curtain, from top to bottom is a picture of God reaching down and ripping open a way for us into the Holy of Holies as Jesus’ death re-established God’s intimate relationship with man. What a loving God!
What does relationship with God mean? Relationship in its broadest definition means relating with someone or something else. The whole idea of being connected or related by some kind of a bond is central to this definition. Can men be connected to the God of the universe? Are we related by blood to the Creator? God the Father has provided, through the blood of his own Son, Jesus Christ, the most amazing and wonderful opportunity for the created to connect to The Creator in ways we ordinarily would not and could not be connected. Relationship with God cannot be bought, earned, or demanded. It is an underserved gift, in the Biblical definition. Relationship with God by any means other than by faith in Jesus Christ’s provision of forgiveness is unacceptable to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV).
This intimacy with God is available to everyone who will believe in Jesus Christ. But what we do with this gift of relationship is the choice of every individual. We can feed it and it will flourish; we can ignore it and it will fade. We can pursue it and it will develop; or we can flee it and it will diminish. We can nurture it and it will grow; or we can starve it and it will decline. We can respond to it and it will intensify; or we can react against it and it will slip away. What is your desire? What do you want your relationship with God to become?
I remember as a child my dad, a big 6 foot 4 inch hulk of a man, inviting us to grab his huge index finger and climb onto his size #12 feet as he walked around the room. It was a wonderful game, and we couldn’t get enough! Here I was with my chubby little baby fingers hanging on to my father, walking where I couldn’t walk and doing what I wouldn’t normally be able to do, because I was literally riding on the footsteps of my father! I remember the joy I had as we played this game and the security of knowing that, as long as I held on tight, I would not fall. We also have a ‘Father’ in heaven who similarly delights in us and he also wants us to walk in His footsteps. He loves more than any earthly father could, because his love is perfect.
I would like us to examine the family aspect of our relationship with God. To be a father you must have children, i.e., sons and daughters who are born or adopted into your family. A family is a social unit created by God. Family relationship was designed by God the Father at creation when the human race began. After God made Adam and Eve, God said to them, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV). “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. ’” (Genesis 1:28, NKJV). This was followed by the birth of Adam and Eve’s children to fulfill another part of the destiny of God for their lives. In this first reference in the Bible of family relationships we see some very important things. There is a joining and there is a leaving; there are two that become one; and there is a multiplication of this relationship again and again through their children and their children’s children down through the generations. Marriage was a pleasurable, intimate, wonder-filled relationship created by God for the benefit and continuing existence of mankind.
However, today the world is painting many distorted pictures of family. God, the creator of mankind designed the family, providing a blueprint of how a family should relate and function for all generations. His demonstration of family as the Father of all, is the most correct and accurate picture. I am thankful that the Biblical portrait of family is unchanging and secure.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we are part of a named family, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15, NKJV). What is our family name as believers? The name above all names is the Lord Jesus Christ. We share this family name with God the Father, and with Jesus our elder brother. Jesus asked the Father: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.” (John 17:11-12, NKJV).
There are some delightful aspects of family that we might consider in our meditation of our relationship with God. The fact that God is our Father is so wonderful and truly amazing! Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil.” (John 8:44, NKJV). But Hosea says, “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10, NKJV). So when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches that our Father in heaven adopts us into his family as full-fledged children.
Only Jesus Christ can reveal the Father to us. Jesus said, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27, NKJV). In fact, much to the anger of the religious leaders of his day, Jesus spoke and acted as though this personal relationship with God as Father was not only possible but totally necessary. Because Jesus introduced the idea of God as Father in a personal sense, let’s go to him to discover what the character of the Father is.
He loves us as a father should love his kids. Psalms 103:13 says, “He cares for us with the tenderness of a father and teaches us with great wisdom and patience the lessons we need to learn.” The Father in heaven can be touched with the feelings of our weaknesses. As a Father, God is strong and gentle, loving and disciplining, taking great joy in us, but sorrowful when we mourn. God wants us to be in the bosom of the Father. I believe this is a picture of the depth of intimacy we can have with him. In his gospel, John wrote of Jesus, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18, NKJV). Jesus was in the bosom of the Father.
Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus said to Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:9-11, NKJV).
By faith we, in Jesus, can also be in the Father. We can be so close to God that we are leaning on His bosom, just like John. Speaking of himself at the Last Supper John wrote, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23, NKJV). When your head is resting on the Father’s bosom, you can hear his heart beat. You can feel what he cares about and what he is passionate about. What an amazing picture for us to see the depth of the Father’s love for us! He loves us as a father should love his kids.
God wants us to know how deeply he loves us and that he is the source of all things for us. John the Baptist speaking to his own disciples of Jesus said, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35, NKJV). The Father will set his seal on us, (for security), and protect us. He will feed us and care for us. He will fill us with his life and give us a full, quality life in him. Unlike earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father is always with us.
God wants us to know that it’s right to worship him as Father. Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24, NKJV).
The Father is looking for worshippers. He is looking for those who want a relationship with him. Our relationship with the Father should be so close that we only do what we see the Father do, and we only say what the Father tells us to say. This was true of Jesus as he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19, NKJV). Jesus lived to please the Father, and our desire should be to follow Jesus’ example. If we are relating to God as our personal Father, we will only want to do his will. He will show us what he is doing, even the great works of God. He will speak to us and tell us what to speak to others. We won’t need to fear or wonder what to say. God our Father will teach us how to live and what to do. He lives in us and will never leave us alone. What a wonderful Father we have!
What is faith in God? It is a simple, unreserved trust in God. Faith requires leaning on and depending on Him. Faith is trusting in His Word which contains His promises to us. Trust is very practical in our relationship with the Father in Heaven. Our every waking moment should be lived out of our trust in the Father heart of God. We depend on Christ’s sacrifice that secures our relationship with him. God is our Father by the new birth. We are adopted into his family by faith in his sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We even take on His name in this adoptive process. We can trust in Him, our Father and our God to lead, guide, and direct our every moment. We, who are justified, “live by faith.”
One thing that is wonderful about children and parents is the trust relationship they have. Children enjoy a wonderful simplicity of faith and trust in their parents. In the same way, we can relate with simple faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. We, being hidden in Christ, can call God Abba, or Daddy, just as Jesus did. What a privilege we have! I remember throwing my sons up in the air and catching them when they were little. They trusted me. I could have accidentally dropped them, but they never doubted for a moment that I would catch them. They laughed and enjoyed the game. In the same way we must trust that our Father in heaven will always catch us. We will not fall, especially when we are putting our confidence in Him.
That God is our Father is almost too wonderful to imagine and truly amazing! You can pray this prayer right now: Lord would you reveal your Fatherhood to us? Would you come and remove any false portraits of father and show us how deep and pure and good your Father-love is? I pray for you to make us totally secure in your love and help us to know we are accepted and loved perfectly in your family, for Jesus sake.
Unless designated NKJV, all Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society noted as (NIV). Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Putlishers.
Scripture indicated NKJV is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW KING JAMES VERSION. Copyright © 1972, 1984 Thomas Nelson, Inc. noted as (NKJV). Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Publishers.