A Personal Relationship With God
By Donnie McKinney c 2003, 2005
It's all about a relationship. We humans tend to get sidetracked easily. We need to belong to something. We need a list of beliefs and doctrines, so we can know we're doing it "right." We need traditions. We need buildings. We need structured worship.
God said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." That's all he said. Why do we try to make is so complicated? What if we simply did what He said?
I wish I knew all the answers, but what I "think" I know thus far is this. All Christianity is really about is having unconditional love, and being totally nonjudgmental. Jesus said, "All of the law can be summed up in one word, Love your neighbor as yourself." Unless you're Jewish, the "legalism" of religion went out when God came to earth in human form to illustrate to us what He is really all about.
He knows we can't be perfect under the law. What it's all about is having a close, personal and intimate relationship with God, enjoying His unconditional love for us, and allowing Him to exhibit unconditional love through us. That's it.
What can a human add to that? We humans try to make up our own rules. Making rules isn't our job. We humans try to tell others how to worship God. God didn't invent denominations. We humans try to judge each other. That's God's job. All God said is, "Love me. Love each other." It's all about relationships.
How does one go about having a close, personal and intimate relationship with God? I tried to figure this out, myself, a while back because that seemed to be the buzzword at the time. I found that it's a personal thing. I'm pretty sure reading God's word and prayer fit in the process. I don't know about techniques or secrets. Lots of people have written books about how to do it. Maybe they know. I think it's more likely to be an individual process. Each human is a unique creation. We all have natural, unique God-given talents and abilities. We all do things differently. Why don't we just leave it up to God to show us how?
I can only tell you what I try to do. If my thoughts help you, that's great. Don't depend on it. Do your own thing. I don't know if I just learned about having a personal relationship with God after being a Christian for fifty years, or if I always had one and just didn't realize it. I never thought about it in those terms until recently, but I've always talked to God and He's always answered me. Does that mean that I've been confused all this time? I thought I had to do what someone else did, or I wouldn't "have" it. Maybe I'm different from other people.
Recently, I've been studying about how to develop a personal relationship with God. The general consensus seems to be that one should get up early every morning, read the bible and pray. I tried that. I didn't have dramatic success. Maybe my many years of human conditioning, and deeply imbedded habits, hindered my attempt to establish new routines. Maybe it's not necessary for me to do what works for someone else. I wish I knew the answer. If you want to work on your personal relationship with God, then perhaps it's good to start with prayer and bible reading.
There are scientific reasons that morning is better than night. Early morning is better than late morning. Someone said there's never been a great spiritual leader who didn't get up early and commune with God. But, some people aren't "morning" people. I am, but I still had trouble. So, do what's best for you. Whenever you decide is your best time to commune with God, do it then. I'm pretty sure God is always on the job. Just take a few minutes and talk to Him whenever it seems to work best for you.
Try to get in the habit of talking to God as a real, living person. He is, you know. Don't get hung up on formalities. Jesus said He would leave the Holy Spirit with us, and that he would indwell us. I'm convinced that if the Holy Spirit is "in" us, He can't be anywhere except in our subconscious minds. Where else could He be? If He's in us, then is He gone except while we're praying? I don't think so. He's there 24/7. We can seek guidance anytime we want to talk to Him. That's a powerful thought, isn't it?
Here's what I think is my "goal" in having a close, personal relationship with God. God said while He was on earth that He wants us to allow Him to live through us. That simply means that we have to have unconditional love toward all other humans, even the ones we don't particularly like. It could possibly be described simply as a vastly expanded concept of the WWDJ (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets that were a fad a few years ago. Jesus was the only "human" who ever exhibited unconditonal love and lived a sinless life.
Are you and I ever going to be capable of having unconditional love? I doubt it. God is the only one capable of having unconditional love. But, we do have the capacity, even in our human state, of allowing God to exhibit unconditional love through us. When you are ready to suppress your human inclinations, and instead allow God to express unconditional love through you, then I think you are ready to experience the ultimate personal relationship with Him.
If you want to have a closer and more personal relationship with God, simply ask Him to guide you. He'll do that. Ask for wisdom. Ask God to lead the people into your life you need to help you understand His Word. Most Christians have a difficult time understanding the Bible when they read it on their own. That's why God gave some people the spiritual gift of teaching. Seek out those people. Learn from them.
Ask God to guide you to the specific scriptures you need in your life at any given moment. When you read His Word in a prayerful state of mind, the Holy Spirit will bring understanding and enlightenment into your reading. I am constantly amazed at how I am drawn to specific passages exactly when I need them in my journey toward understanding my own personal relationship with God.
Maybe there's no magic formula for developing an intimate relationship with God. Some wise person said,
"Go as far as you can see. Then, when you get there, you can see a little further."
That's applicable to our spiritual journeys. Don't get discouraged if you don't know everything. No one ever does. We learn something new every day of our lives. You and I can only do one thing - start exactly where we are right this moment and move forward. We may never get "there," but we'll get a little closer to God every day we spend talking to Him. And, we'll learn more every day about what He intends for our lives. That's what it's all about. It's a relationship.
Related Article - On Being Nonjudgmental
Related Article - Humans and God
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