The desire for relationship, to know and be known, is present in everyone. To know God and be known by God is the ultimate relationship-so much so that it can be a little scary. But it can also be scary and lonely to not have that relationship with God.
The What of Knowing God
For everyone this starts out as a desire, not a reality. And it’s easy to be put off by fear or guilt or a skewed idea of who God is or having been hurt in the past. But that’s where everyone starts-disconnected from our Creator and flailing around trying to figure out life on our own. The bad news is that no amount of trying or flailing around will get us back to God, not even being good or going to church. On our own we can’t connect with God. The good news is that God can connect with us.
This is the business He is in. Every day He reaches out and asks each of us to come to Him. He has no greater joy that when an individual recognizes this and says “Yes.” What we cannot do for ourselves, God has done for us. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthian church (1 Cor 15:57) “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The operative word here is “gives.” He gives this to us. It’s His work, and nothing we do except receive it.
The Why of Knowing God
But what is this “sin and death” that Paul’s talking about? Sin is shorthand for being far from God and going the other way. It’s why we don’t have the natural bent to know God and why we don’t have the means. It is everything we do that demonstrates a willing separation from God, an avoidance of anything that might reflect God. It’s present in all of us, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.
The only natural sense of God we have is to avoid Him. It’s hard to think of ourselves this way, but it’s accurate. Our friend Paul says, “… they knew God, but they didn’t honor Him as God…” (Rom 1:21 paraphrase). The result of separating ourselves from our life-giving Creator is death: literally and spiritually. This isn’t just “the big things,” murder, infidelity, abuse of another. It just as honestly describes the dozens of small moments when we have the chance to advance our own agenda or priorities at the expense of another-to act selfishly.
And this “victory” that Paul mentions, what’s that? In a restored relationship with God, we enjoy release from guilt and shame, a realigned awareness of and comfort with the presence of our Creator in our lives, and freedom from the “alone-ness” that comes with separation from our Creator. Paul later states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; all things thing are made new.” (2 Cor 5:17 paraphrase) God, through his own work, has overcome this separation. He completes what’s missing in our relationship with him. And for us that’s a victory!
The How of Knowing God
How does this renewed relationship happen? And who is “Jesus Christ?” Remember when we talked about death as the consequence of the sin that we all have? God offers a remedy for that in Jesus Christ. He sent Jesus, who was in essence God himself, to suffer this death sentence so we don’t have to. The death sentence doesn’t just go away, but the penalty is paid for us.
So how does this work? How do I get “in” Christ? The last words of Jesus when he was crucified were “it is finished.” That was a legal term that meant “the contract is satisfied.” But even though the work had been done on this contract by Jesus and according to God’s plan, the other party, which is us, still has to “sign on the dotted line.” That’s what “faith” is, accepting that the work Jesus did was enough, and realizing that there is nothing that we can do or need to do in addition to his work to establish our relationship with God.
This “faith” can be expressed as simply as saying aloud or to yourself, “God, I understand that I can’t reconcile with you by myself. I am self-centered and I can’t change that. I recognize that you have provided a way through the death Jesus suffered in my place. Please come into my life, establish a relationship with me, and let me know and live the completeness, cleansing, and vibrancy you offer.”
And that’s it! There’s nothing else you have to do. You don’t even have to get this “contract” notarized. God does that, spiritually. He gives us His own Spirit as a confirmation of this relationship and as an encourager and guide. It is this Spirit that will start to scrub away the old self-centeredness that we live with.
In a renewed relationship with God, we have access to Him whenever we want or need it. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “come boldly before the throne of our gracious God.” We can pray anywhere at any time and He will hear us. The door is always open.
And there’s another thing. He’s sent you a text message with some next steps. The Bible describes God’s work through all human history to redeem us, to open the door to relationship for everyone who will walk through. In particular, the gospel of John describes a lot more about the work and life of Jesus, and the book of Acts describes the early church and the lives of new believers. One thing that they did was to find a community of like-minded people whom they could learn from and contribute to. This is a good place to share about your relationship with God–what prompted it and what it means to you.
If you have other questions, you can click on the bottom of the Ask Dr. B, blog page but first ask God Himself for answers or clarification. Dr. B may be able to provide some general insight, but God will provide the specific insight you need, and personalize it to your situation.
The When of Knowing God
If you find a personal reluctance to this type of response to God, or if you find some other obstacle or objection, ask God for a clearer description of who He is, or for an answer to your objections or obstacles. The book of Hebrews says “… those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6 paraphrase)
Then read some of the narratives from the Bible of others who had objections or reluctance or obstacles to relationship with God, people like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Rahab, Ruth, Mary, Paul and Peter. You can also ask a pastor whom you trust, or another believer who is a little further along in their relationship with God. But don’t just put this at the bottom of your “to do” list. Paul quoted the Old Testament writer Isaiah to the Corinthians “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you, on the day of salvation, I helped you.”” Indeed, the “right time” is now. “Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 2:6 NLT).
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13 NLT)
With prayer for God’s blessings and your presence “among the beloved,” (Eph 1:6)
About Scott Bengtson
Scott earned his electrical engineering degree from Georgia Tech University. He spent the better part of his career in telecommunications.
He has been married to his wife, Michelle for 31 years, and together they have two children: one who is a junior in college, and the other a junior in high school.
He is a 3-time cancer survivor and gives God all the glory. In his spare time, Scott leads a men’s Bible study and serves in his local church.