The Relationship with God
Why our intrapersonal relationships should reflect how we view our relationship with God.
When one thinks of relationships, a number of different types may come to mind. One might think of friendships, relationships of great value, providing comfort and delight. Another might think of romance. A type of relationship that brings about feelings of love, closeness, an intimate connection to another person. Someone at church or Lancaster Bible College, Capital Seminary and Graduate School might also make mention of the relationship with God. There is one word that each of these types of relationships have in common, knowledge.
Machen states that some liberal preachers will state that we should not seek to know God, but simply feel his presence. This is a logical nightmare for a number of reasons, but I want to first digest this by making mention of intrapersonal relationships, that is relationships with other individuals or a group of individuals. You don’t become friends with someone or seek a relationship with them just by them being present. You desire to get to know the individual. Your decision to have a relationship with them is based on your knowledge of them, not based on your desire to feel their presence.
I want to put this logic to the test however with a personal example. I have an extremely close friend named Kate. I desire to have a relationship with her because of her character, her kindness, the fact that we have multiple common interests. Because I know her, I know we mutually enjoy Harry Potter, something we can talk about. We also share common views on our faith, and even politics. We aren’t friends just because of mere existence. I want to know Kate, not just feel her presence. To say otherwise would just be absurd.
Though on a higher level, the same is true with God. We seek to know God, not just experience His presence. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful thing, but our relationship with God is meaningless if we focus merely on his presence. A meaningful relationship with God means that one seeks to know God’s character. We know that God is a just God. We know that God is a faithful God. And we know that God is a loving God, to the degree that he would take on the form of man, be pierced for our transgressions, and die a most humiliating death, so that we may have a relationship with him again.
When we are in close relationship with someone, regardless of the type, we feel inclined to stand up for them. If someone should slander Kate, you can bet your bottom dollar I am going to stick up for her. Why wouldn’t we do the same for God? I should mention that God is all-powerful and does not need our protection, we need His. However, because we have a relationship with God, shouldn’t we also speak out against slander toward Him?
The biggest takeaway from all this is that if a relationship is based not on the knowledge of an individual, it is not a relationship. This type of relationship would simply be one of acquaintances, a relationship that has no content. If we do not seek to know God,we effectively see God simply as an acquaintance. Our relationship with Him has no content, it has no meaning. Evidence of this is as simple as our own intrapersonal relationships.