Experiencing GOD: Relationship Required?

In Blackaby’s Experiencing GOD, he shares his assumption that one needs to already have a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior in order to really get something out of his book.

“If you have not made this most important decision in your life, the rest of this book will have little meaning for you…” (p. 2).

I concur with Henry’s prerequisite, but his introductory premise sparked some curious questions in my head that I pose here in hopes you might have answers or at least opinions.

Jesus Christ Spotted At Wal-Mart

Jesus Christ Spotted At Wal-Mart

  • What does it mean to “have a relationship with Jesus Christ?”
  • What decisions have to be made to make the relationship with Jesus happen?
  • Can a person be a church member [In the case of my/our faith, Seventh-day Adventist] and not have a relationship with Jesus? Explain.
  • Where is the best place to get or start a relationship with Christ?
  • How can people love Jesus and not love the church? Or visa versa?
  • What are the differences between being a Christian, being a Seventh-day Adventists, and being a Christ-follower? What are the similarities? Does it matter? Explain?
  • Who is authorized to help a person to get a relationship with Jesus?
  • What role does Jesus play in my life? Really. Honestly.

You don’t have to respond to all, but sure would love to see/read what’s on your mind for some of these questions that popped up for me.

About A Allan Martin, PhD, CFLE

Jeremiah 24/7
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16 Responses to Experiencing GOD: Relationship Required?

  1. Zane says:

    Hey Allan. This post has me thinking about something a group of us discussed this past week at vespers. We’re going through the book “unChristian” which polls 16-29 year olds that are not Christian what they think of Christians.

    The picture is not flattering. Christians are hypocritical, homophobic, close-minded, etc. In other words, we are not anything like Jesus.

    Anyway, at one point we ended up talking about Gandhi, a Hindu who practiced Jesus’ teachings of non-violence, with the “Christian” British empire that was racist and violently colonized India.

    All this to get around to the questions you ask: Who really had the “relationship” with Jesus and was experiencing God?

    I’m challenged more and more by the thought that one has a relationship with Jesus when he or she does the things Jesus taught, not “believe” facts about him or what he did.

  2. aamphd says:

    Zane, your comment really strikes a cord with me. I think that the historical dissonance in Christianity has really marred the Cause. I too am challenged with the perceptions people have of Christians, almost wanting to be called something else. Some have suggested being called a GODfollower or a Christ-follower.

    May I be more like Gandhi in my expression of following Christ.

  3. lisahope says:

    zane, i just read “unchristian” for the class i’m taking. it’s hard because part of it makes me want to disengage from “those christians” the book is talking about, but i’m faced with the hard truth of acknowledging that all too often i have been the one judging and criticizing and pushing my beliefs on others rather than just living my life modeled after Jesus. i’ve been unchristian.

    i find myself, too, wanting to be called something different than christian… more than that, though, i really want to live a life of love and acceptance of people right where they are at.

    i want things to change. i want the perceptions of christians to change. so once again the words of ghandi challenge… i need to be the change i want to see in the world.

    God, forgive me for misrepresenting You to others so many times. fill my heart with Your love, teach me to love the things you love. teach me to love and accept people like You love and accept me.

  4. Becky says:

    I don’t have this book yet, and I was really just casually checking out this site…but I found that each one of those bullet points listed above is a question I have asked myself in the past six months or so.

    I find myself questioning what it means to “have a relationship with Jesus” and other jargon-y terms that are so casually thrown out in sermons and the like. I want to have a relationship with Jesus, and I “think” I do, but how do I “know” for sure? For a person who was raised in the church and works for the organization now, I feel like I understand so little and have so many more questions than I should.

    Perhaps this book club is just what I need…I’ll have to see if I can find a copy of the book this weekend. Thanks for the insights!

  5. aamphd says:

    Hi Becky,
    Thanks for affirming that I’m not the only one with these curious questions roaming in my cranium. It is this pursuit of GOD, not just in the Sabbath hours, but 24/7, that has me obsessed right now. How do I experience GOD daily? Moment by moment.

    I’ll be glad to have you join our club. You can find details on how to get the book at
    https://ignitionblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/join-us-in-experiencing-god-together/
    where it lists both an amazon and AdventSource link.

  6. carolynmacomber says:

    I have been on a bit of a personal retreat – vacation time spent in a little cabin in the woods. I came home for a day to enjoy some water sports with friends and then I head out tomorrow back to the cabin for a few more days. And so I decided to check out the site, once again . . .

    Why do I mention that? Because it has been intentional time set aside to seek that “relationship”. You see I have been a church member, ministry leader, etc. , but I lost the connection . . . Oh, sure I spent time in personal devotion, chatting with other Christians, praying, going to church, but I think I kept God/Jesus at arms length. Underneath it all I thought by “doing” I could somehow endear myself to God . . . I’m learning I don’t have to “do” to earn favor from Him . . . He demonstrated His favor/endearment for me on Calvary . . . somehow I had forgotten.

    Yes, I love Jesus, but I’m sometimes hesitant about the “church”. If I see the “church” as institutional – something not made up of people like me . . . and I look at it as a “doctrine” or “rule oriented organization” . . . I’m not very fond it it (church). . . . But if I see the church as individual people who might be searching for a relationship like me . . . my thoughts and feelings become gentler . . .

    The question: “Who is authorized to help a person get a relationship with Jesus?” . . . has me smiling. I finished a book called, “Divine Nobodies” . . . the author shares snippets of experiences with various people “divine nobodies” who open his eyes to Who Jesus might be. . . Let me answer the question with a question . . . Don’t you think that Jesus would use a variety of avenues, people, and situations to draw us closer to Him . . . as long as “they” didn’t counteract His character or our freedom of choice?

    Experiencing God . . . sometimes it seems “easy” . . . sometimes “not so easy” . . . I’m thankful that recently I have met others who share authentically their searching, seeking, and desiring . . . that they don’t always “feel” His nearness, but they continue to seek and search and desire . . .

  7. Jim says:

    Relationship means you are involved in the other’s life. There are 3 types of relationship. Relationship from a distance – You have read about that person but they don’t know anything about you. You are not involved and you only know wha others have said. Casual – You only want that person when you have a need but don’t bother me if you have a need or just want to be together. BUT imtimate relationship requires you to know all you can about that person. You need to know what they like and dislike, willing to stand with them even in the time of trouble, and don’t want to be seperated from them. Jesus knows all about you but wo really know HIM, do we care if we talk to Him (pray), if we know what He like, are we willing to do the things tha are pleasing to Him.

    I like what was said earlier, we must be followers of Christ. A Christian has become a term that is necessary to be accepted in some areas of life but there is nothing about them that is Christ like and they have never had a converstiion with God. What kind of relationship would yuou have with your family if you never spoke to them or cared or showed concern about them.

    If we will start to build a relationship, I believe God will overwhelm us with his love and we will never feel alone. But the first step must be taken by us.

  8. aamphd says:

    Carolyn,
    I’m hoping your retreat was rejuvinating. It is so good when GOD invites us to get away. Let me respond with a question to your question which was a response to my initial question, “Who and/or what has Jesus used to draw you closer to Him?”

    Jim,
    Thanks for your challenge to take steps towards a more intimate relationship with GOD. I want to be overwhelmed by His love. There is an oasis in His presence.

    Relationship is both art and process. I so value your keen insights and authenticity.

  9. carolynmacomber says:

    Allan,
    Who and/or what has Jesus used to draw you closer to Him? This is indeed a good question . . . at different times it has been different things . . . of late . . . burn out has drawn me closer to Him. It is funny . . . I didn’t see burn out coming until it hit me full force. My exhaustion brought me literally to my knees and I’m learning some important lessons from it . . . Also, a person, who is not an Adventist, has asked some questions of me and then sat with me as I wrestled with the answers . . . so they have been influential in drawing me to seek Him for answers as they have gently held me up in prayer and support . . . it is interesting because most of the words this non-Adventist has used has been relational words . . .

    A short answer to your question would be difficult circumstances and godly people.

  10. aamphd says:

    Carolyn,

    Funny how we at times need to bottom out before we acknowledge dependence on GOD. Or maybe not so funny.

    Funny how life needs to get beyond our control before we consider giving Him control. Or maybe not so funny.

    Funny how we have to step out of our faith community to build our faith and sense community. Or maybe not so funny.

    I’m praying that GOD will continue to send you methods and messengers who will draw you closer to Him, no matter what form or fashion they come.

  11. saraleoni says:

    I know I’m a bit late on these but I had the same difficulty with Experiencing God in that it tells you how to follow the will of God and, if you don’t feel his will is being revealed, then you don’t have a good enough relationship with Him. But no where does it tell you how to assess your relationship or give you references for developing one. I was led to this book because of my question on how to discern the will of God (since He doen’t seem to be speaking to me) but found it, and most other books, already assume that your relationship is right. But what if, according to the books, it isn’t?

  12. Carolyn says:

    Saraleoni,
    Wow – Such a good question and such candidness – Thank You! I don’t have a cookbook receipe for what your asking- how do you assess your relationship or even develop one? But I can tell you where I’m at . . .

    I’m reading another book called, “Walking with God” by John Eldridge. It comes with a workbook and I’m doing both. One thing the book starts out with is teaching us how to listen to God. It says – start small. Like, don’t ask God big questions like should I take this or that job, is this the one you want me to marry, etc. The author says start small . . . like God who would you like me to talk to TODAY . . . or where do you want me to go this weekend for a break . . . and then the author says listen inside . . . what are you impressed to do . . . if you don’t hear anything (meaning impressed in your mind) ask again . . . and again . . . until you are impressed with something. After doing this exercise over time . . . the author says you’ll begin to learn how to listen for God . . . You can even ask God —- Is there something keeping me from hearing Your voice? . . . and then listen . . . ask again . . . listen . . . The author makes this BIG assumption (I believe it to be true) . . . God wants to talk with you/me/us . . . He wants to be intimate with you/me/us . . .

    In some ways I feel like a brand new Christian . . . even though I’ve been one for awhile . . . I’m just learning to grow more and more intimate with Jesus . . .

    Blessings,
    Carolyn

  13. Alejandra says:

    Hmmm…I’ve grown up hearing about Experiencing God. I was part of a little group of young adults that planted a church to reach out to UNchurched people to make them committed and authentic disciples of Christ in the SDA church. I believe that going through Experiencing God can bring up certain things we might be hiding from ourselves. I tend to believe that we all know if we have a “relationship” with God. I think we’re all aware of that. I know the book RIGHT OFF THE BAT, questions if you’re in a relationship with Christ. And I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. That assumption should be made. Why? Because at some point, we have to be sure. And if we never reach that point, what a frustrating life we would live. Do we think we should live questioning if we’re “in” with Christ? That would be UNBELIEVABLY burdensome. And plus, “The Purpose-Driven Life” makes the same assumption, I believe. They make that assumption because I think the author wants to take the reader ALOT deeper…and to go deeper, there has to be a foundation.

    As an Adventist young adult, who loves the Church and God…and the vintage faith of our fathers and the modern worship of today…I have to think that previous generations are responsible for creating insecure Adventists. LOL Young people are constantly questioning if they are indeed in a relationship with God (“Are you saved?”). Why is that? Who’s responsible for that? Pastors? Teachers? Parents? At some point, we must take control of our own spiritual walk and say “I know what needs to be done to be a follower of Christ in this Church”. I think the problem we might be facing is that we honestly don’t WANT to do it…don’t care too much for it. We know enough ABOUT God and that’ll suffice. We know enough of our beliefs and that is MORE than enough. We know enough of Ellen G to make it come out of our EARS! Yet we still ask “How do we know?” I think we HAVE to get a grip on that because we will end up doing 1 of 2 things:
    1. We will continue to breed insecure Christians/Adventists.
    2. Never become mature Christians/Adventists.

    I think there’s no difference in being called a Christian, a God-follower, or even a Seventh-day Adventist. All those things just reference who we are. I tend to believe that Adventists, like Jews in a sense, are completely indoctrinated in Adventism…to the point that we see the world, life, religion, God through those eyes. There’s nothing wrong with that because I think it’s kinda cool to believe in something so much that it transcends everything. But, the key issue is obedience, love, faith in God and His Word. That’s how hardcore Jews live. And maybe we should learn from them. In essence, that’s how Jesus lived too.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to work through my spiritual, Adventist low self-esteem. But, I trust God is with me through all the questioning and the non-questioning…through the good and the not-so-good. And mostly through the complacency…UGH…what a struggle!!! LOL! One comforting thought always pops into my head…WE ARE NOT EXCLUSIVE to these problems! 🙂 All religions have people that question why, how, when, for what…it’s SUCH a human characteristic…it’s our “control freak” gene…and mine is OVER-developed! LOL!

    Thanks for bearing with me…lol…I needed a little mental break from work…and also get things off my chest, I guess!

    Live well, live blessed…
    -Alejandra🙂

  14. Troy says:

    I resonate with Saraleoni’s response to Experiencing God–especially the assumption of the most basic feature of God’s will–at least from what I’ve seen. I just believe that God’s will is a relationship–another way to say it might be–knowing God’s will is more about knowing God than it is about knowing what to do with my future. Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be a magic line or threshold we cross that indicates we now have a “close relationship” with God versus a walk that is troubled. I was walking down a path the other day watching these young parents walk their child with them. The little one stopped, picked up some trash on the ground to play with-it–the parents strongly encouraged moving on. The child again stopped to pet a passing dog. The parents stopped–assisted, then moved on. At one point the child threw at tantrum–that was entertaining!–anyway–that’s a walk. It’s filled with drama, dumb stuff we do, and learning. Maybe a relationship with God mirrors a walk. I know personally that discovering God’s will is a step by step thing–Rarely has God even given me or anyone else I know the next ten steps. Anyway–thanks for the opportunity to share–reading your thoughts have changed the way I’m going to do this day. Blessings. Troy

  15. carolynmacomber says:

    Troy,
    Love your analogy . . . I often time feel like that child on the walk . . . sometimes drama, sometimes dumb stuff, sometimes . . . always learning. And yeh, I too, don’t have this thing all figured out.

    Thanks for the analogy!

    Carolyn

  16. lisahope says:

    troy, i definitely agree with carolyn–great analogy! it really invites a freedom with how i approach my relationship with God, too. it’s ok if i stop to pick up some trash (He is fully aware that i don’t know any better at this point in time). unexpected delays, wrong turns, tripping and falling… it’s all part of it. sometimes i have worried that i am taking God’s grace for granted if i don’t worry about my mistakes. i’ve asked (and continue to ask) myself “am i playing loose and free with God? am i being presumptuous?”

    here’s where i’m at, though: i’m on a journey, a walk with God, as you put it. i’m slowly growing up, just as the child is that you observed walking with his/her parents. i know i’m going to make mistakes. next year i may look back on what i wrote and wonder what i was thinking… but right now, this is where i am. knowing and living with the realization that God loves and accepts me completely right now is freeing. i know He’s growing me and has plans to teach me more. but for now, my relationship with Him is what it is for now. do i want it to deepen? definitely. do i want to be able to hear His voice clearer. you bet. will i get there by beating myself up over falling down? nope. i won’t grow any faster by being frustrated with my short legs, either.

    i guess what God is saying to me is “lisa, I love and accept you just as you are… will you extend that love and acceptance to yourself?” and somehow, i’m hearing God just a little clearer…

    thanks for sharing

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