Church of God, New World Ministries

What Is Your Relationship With God?

How many people do you think leads, what they feel, a good Christian life, but peace of mind eludes them?

What about members of God’s True Church? Are we free from fear and anxiety as much as we would like to be?

When you pray, are you sure your prayers are being heard? How easy do you find it to cope with the minor, day-to-day, problems in Life? What about major problems that occur?

How positively you can answer such questions will be determined by the quality of your personal relationship with God. Many make the mistake of assuming that, as Christians, they are as close to God as they need to be. Such is not the case at all, as the Bible clearly shows.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus stands at a door and is knocking. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

You may have thought this often-quoted verse pictures Jesus calling sinners and unbelievers to repentance. But the message in this section of the Scriptures is not directed to the world. Rather, it is addressed specifically to Christians (notice verses 1, 6-7, 13-14 and 22)!

These people in verse 20 are not merely unbelievers on the other side of the door. These are Christians who have allowed a door to close in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is standing without and they are within, secure and complacent. They apparently are unaware of how remote Christ is from them.

How could such a situation come to be?

It is significant that these Christians are the same individuals who are warned about being “lukewarm” (vs. 15-16). They are not “hot,” that is to say, burning with zeal for God’s way, deeply involved in what God is doing, actively seeking to grow in grace and knowledge. On the other hand, they are not “cold,” that is to say unbelieving, atheistic, out-and-out evildoers. Hot water is conducive to healing. Cold water is refreshing. Lukewarm water is neither.

These Christians are lukewarm. They follow Christ, but their works are ineffective. They maintain an “arms-length relationship” with God. They want God to be there so they can call on Him when they are in need. They want the blessings that come from knowing God. They are willing to obey some of God’s commandments. But total commitment to the One who created them and gives them the breath of life is missing.

Jesus emphatically says in verse 16 that He does not accept such a lukewarm following!

It happens to be a fact that if one is not making a real effort to be a fervent Christian, one will automatically be lax. If one is not consciously trying to be close to God, one will be distant from Him. If one is not seeking God every day, (send for our DVD, “The Staff of Life”), one will quickly lose sight of Him in the daily whirl of material pursuits and interests.

Being close to God does not come automatically. Just because a person is a Christian does not mean that person is fulfilling (filling to the full) God’s will for his or her life. There’s no such thing as “automatic” righteousness. We can’t just coast along, nonchalant, and be in the proper relationship with God. We cannot breeze along the way that leads to life by switching on some godly “automatic pilot” or Christian “cruise control.” Instead, we ourselves constantly have to be involved and put forth effort.

Isaiah in his day lamented to God that there was none “who stirs himself up to take hold of You” (Isa. 64:7).

It is easy to lose sight of God amidst the complexities and cares of life. That’s why it is so essential to seek Him. Even “though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). God has ordained that to establish a true contact with Him we must seek Him.

And not just halfhearted! But “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jere. 29:12-13). This a commitment. This is action. This is breaking out of merely following the path of least resistance.

To the extent we do not purposefully decide and make the effort to draw close to God, we will be absorbed in worldly material pursuits. In spite of scriptural warning (II Tim. 2:4), we will become entangled with the affairs of this life. God will seem remote, distance and unreal to us.

How does a person go about seeking to come closer to God? Isaiah 55:6-9 shows that seeking God involves action in two spheres: a person’s deeds and a person’s thoughts, (See also Rom. 12:1-2, Eph. 4:22-23 and James 4:8).

It is a question of repentance true sorrow and regret of past mistakes and a real change of direction.

Do not discount the importance of being a doer. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. That’s what the word Christian signifies. Therefore, we must do just that follow!

We can’t just stand still. That is not “following” Christ. We’ve got to exert the effort to pick up our feet and march in Christ’s steps. There must be movement.

Notice, in Revelation 3:15, one of the means God uses to determine the quality of a person’s Christianity. “I know your works,” Jesus declares. A person’s works mirror his or her spiritual condition.

Let’s not forget that, while forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life are free gifts, a Christian shall be rewarded “according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).

Works are essential. They prove to God that we are in earnest about doing His will. After all, talk is cheap.

Jesus uttered some searing words to various individuals who claimed to be religious, but who did not produce the deeds to prove it. To them He quoted Isaiah: “These people draw near to Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8).

Christ asked on another occasion, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46). There is no getting around it. The Bible is replete with statements showing that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Christians must be doers. But doers of what?

Doers of God’s commandments (Rom. 2:13). Doers of kind, helpful and charitable actions (Gal. 6:9-10; James 2:14-18) Doers of whatever part an individual may have in promoting the Work of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world (I Cor. 15:58).

We are instructed to bring Jesus Christ into everything we do or say (Col. 3:17). That is part of what it takes to change an “arms-length relationship” with God into a close walk with Him.

But the process must go deeper than outward deeds. It must be inward. It involves the heart, the mind. God must fill our thoughts. We can’t let just anything that comes along occupy our minds. We need to think selectively, righteously. Wrong thoughts have to be quickly recognized and put out. It is a question of “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

This can be accomplished only through the use of several vital tools. Diligent Bible study puts right concepts God’s thoughts - into our minds. Prayer is an important key and brings us into contact with God. The Bible shows many examples where prayer, accompanied by fasting, worked wonders in this regard. And, of course, meditation, what we allow our minds to dwell on, has much to do with our drawing near to God.

That’s why the apostle Paul elaborated as he did when he wrote to the Philippians that “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

To sum up what it takes to be close to Him, God says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). This does not come easily. It takes effort (Luke 13:24). It requires work (Phil. 2:12). It involves labor (John 6:27).

Does all this sound impossibly difficult? The disciples once exclaimed that it is not humanly possible to do what God requires. And, Jesus agreed with them!

“With men this is impossible,” Jesus declared. But He didn’t stop there. He went on to explain the all-important, critical factor that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:25-26).

If we show our earnestness by trying to do our part, God will make up for what we lack. He will give us His Holy Spirit (provided we have fulfilled the conditions in Acts 2:38) so that we can be “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). He will fill us with love, joy, peace all of the wonderful fruits of His way of life (Gal. 5:22-23).

Break down anything that keeps you at a distance from God. It was to Christians that James wrote: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

When Jesus was knocking at the door, asking to be allowed in, He didn’t say, “If you open the door to Me, I will come in and let you serve Me a meal.” What an honor and privilege that would be! But God holds out to us something far better. Jesus wants us to sit at the same table as He and dine with Him (Rev. 3:20).

What an awesome calling we have! If you are not stirring yourself up to take advantage of the close relationship God offers you, if you are trying to coast along, you are missing out on the greatest opportunity ever made available to humankind. What is your relationship with God?

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