Success can be a nebulous concept when connected to our relationship with God. How can you determine if your relationship with God is actually successful? What measurement can be used? Is it a feeling of satisfaction that comes over you affirming that all is good with God? Can you say you relate to God successfully because you are at peace, experience joy, believe you’re going to heaven, know your sins are forgiven, are fully convinced that you’re His child, or feel love for Him?[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
I’m not advanced enough spiritually to set out a standard of what a successful relationship with God looks like. I struggle daily to even experience Him at a beginner’s level. I am no expert. But there is one expert who knows exactly what it is to have a successful relationship with God. He can help us on the journey…if we can handle it.
So, here’s what Jesus, God in the flesh who is in perfect relationship with the Father, has to say about relating to God successfully:
1. A Successful Relationship with God is Costly
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it.” Matthew 16.24, Mark 8.34, Luke 9.23
To have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ means ongoing denial, death (to ego/self), leaving everything to follow Jesus, and losing your life for Jesus’ sake. This is why godly martyrs are venerated and monastics admired. They have taken Jesus seriously while the rest of us struggle to relate with God because we enjoy ease and comfort. We’d rather have a lovey-dovey relationship, redefining the relationship in psychological and emotional terms. Jesus did not do this. If your relationship with God is not costing you something everyday, it cannot be “successful.”
2. A Successful Relationship with God is Person to Person
“Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11.28-29
To have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ means a constant coming to Jesus involving entry into His union with the Father and learning gentle humility. The outcome of rest is not ours to control but Jesus’ to give. Our role in the relationship is a never ending coming, taking, and learning from Jesus. This is a perpetual relationship established with the One Person in terms that are real. Is this one-on-one relationship with Jesus an ongoing reality for you everyday?
3. A Successful Relationship with God Involves a Meal
Then there is the most offensive means to a successful relationship with God…
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead, He who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6.53-58
Many of Jesus’ disciples left Him never to return when they heard these words. Their communion with Jesus ended because they were unable to accept this teaching and reality. To abide in Christ – have an dynamic, intimate relationship with – means to eat His flesh and drink His blood. This is a difficult reality for many to swallow (sorry about the pun!?!). Yet, it is something that needs to be seriously considered when talking about a successful relationship with God. Communion with God comes in the form of bread and drink. The meal is Jesus Christ.
So, how “successful” is your relationship with God? After dealing with these truths for a while today, I can see that my relationship is in need of some serious attention.
How about you? How is your relationship with God looking? Take some time right now to examine what it looks like. Does it include these three elements?