My entire ministry career I have struggled with some of the same questions – how can I help people have an accurate picture of who God is, and how he wants to walk with them? Jesus walked along the sea of Galilee and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.” He didn’t say “do these rules” or “this is a test” – but so often, that is how we define our faith…if I go to church, don’t do many bad things, and try to be nice – then I must be close to God, right?
Recently I have been reading the book “With”, by Skye Jethani, who is the editor of Leadership Journal, which is aimed at ministry leaders. Skye interacts a ton with Christian leaders at all levels, and asks some hard questions. Do our Christian leaders understand life WITH God, or does the size of their church or ministry determine their identity in Christ? It seems even in our leaders there are misunderstandings with the call of Christ. Jethani identifies 4 ways of relating to God that, while seemingly biblical, fall short of God’s vision and desire for relationship with us as His children. Life Under God means if I do the rules, I will be safe. Life Over God means if I understand God’s principles and apply them, I will be successful. Life From God means if I accept God’s blessings, then I will be secure. Life For God means if I live for God, I will be significant. The problem with these 4 ways, is that they are all trying to USE God for something we need. God is not a thing we use – God HIMSELF is the Treasure of our lives, of our very existence.
These ways of relating to God are so common among Christians, and it turns the relationality of Jesus Christ into simple, formula Christianity. And when the storms come, we get hurt because the formula does not work. So then we ignore our faith, or blame ourselves and work harder at our faith.
Can we live life with God? Life in love with the Author of Love? This Sunday I am going to be teaching on this. And I know I will be struggling to share this in ministry for the rest of my life. My prayer for you is that you will truly have that walk WITH God, in love, freedom, and joy.
What do you think? Why is this so hard for us to get as humans? Why do we go back to the formula and the rules?