Don't complicate your relationship with God

by Kyle
published April 5, 2014


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Life tends to get complicated. Schedules get busy. Relationships get strained. Nerves get frayed. Decisions bear unforeseen consequences.

History holds an inevitable grip upon the future, and things that should seem black and white are often tinted in an inconvenient shade of gray.

To make matters worse, we add to the complication and confusion in our lives by complicating things that are actually simple.

A relationship with God, it turns out, is really simple.

Don’t complicate it.

In Galatians 4, Paul describes two possible relationships with God. One is as a slave.

He says the slave is “held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.” The slave is pressed into service against his will. A slave is not a happy way to be.

So if you’re a slave, who’s the master?

It would be easy to think God, but that’s not what Paul says. He says, “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” (Galatians 4:8) Without Christ, you are a slave to the “gods” you make up. The things that we assign ultimate value to, the things that we pursue, and what — by the very way we spend our time and money — we show we care most about control us. Apart from Christ, we are destitute and beholden to things that will ultimately fail to provide meaning and fulfillment to our lives.

This is the very thing that complicates our relationship with God: creating systems and moral codes and religions for ourselves that ultimately fail. We create a relationship with god rather than with God.

On the other hand, you could simply be a child of God.

The child of God receives good things from God as an heir. The child of God has access to God as a father rather than as an enemy. (Yes, apart from Christ, you are God’s enemy. Romans 5:10 says, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.”) The child of God is freed from the law God holds against the slaves.

Through Christ, things are simple again! God loves you, and you get to love God. Best ever.

So here’s Paul’s question, “Why do you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Galatians 4:9)

Why do we create a system around our relationship with God? Paul criticized the Galatians’ observations of “days and months and seasons and years.” (Galatians 4:10) This is a reference to the Galatians’ strict observation of the Jewish calendar as part of a Jewish sect’s message that Christians have to follow the Jewish Law in order to be “good Christians.”

That might not be a struggle for you. Jewish law is not something a lot of Americans worry about a lot. But what about worship music? What about baptism? What about prayer? What about devotional reading or wearing the right clothes to church or going to church at all or any number of things that “Christians” are supposed to do? Why do you think you need to do those things? Because the Bible says so? Is that a good enough reason?

In the movie Office Space, Stan chides Joanna for not wearing enough pieces of “flair” at the family dining restaurant Chotchkie’s. She says that she’d gladly put on more than the required number of “flair” pieces, and Stan, frustrated, exclaims that he just wants her to want to wear more flair.

As ridiculous and funny as the encounter is, he relates a valid principle. Simply changing your behavior and doing a list, even going above and beyond that list, is not what anyone looks for in a relationship.

A boss wants employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs because they find meaning in what they do, not just to get the “work” thing out of the way. A wife wants a husband who is affectionate because he actually loves her and wants to be close to her, not just to get the whole “wife” thing out of the way. A father wants a child who follows because he loves and trusts rather than getting the whole “parent” thing out of the way.

“Religion” is not a thing that’s in your way. A relationship with God is something you get to freely choose. It’s also something you can freely reject. God just wants you to be his child and he doesn’t force it on you.

It’s simple, really. Don’t complicate it.

What do you think?

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