I was asked this question by R.E, who I suppose is an Atheist, after he read my post “We Know Everything, And There Is No God”. This line of questioning my relationship with God actually began with:
“This relationship you talk of, I assume means you have become rather close. How would you define your relationship? What exactly convinces you that you have one with God? How are you getting closer? What is he doing today more than he did yesterday?“
Ultimately, I found that he was just looking for a way to label me a fanatic, as his assumption that my relationship with God was all in my head would be proven by my lack of valid answers… Some of you reading this might actually be like R.E, rather skeptical that anyone could claim to have a relationship with a Being they had never seen or touched. Since my answer didn’t satisfy R.E., I doubt it would satisfy you.
I just wanted to take a moment and reconsider that loaded question, which I’ve highlighted for today’s Reader Questions. The question itself assumes a lot about God and about me, in order to validate a relationship that is in question.
- It assumes someone can know everything there is to know about another person. There is no one who knows everything there is to know about people they even live with. No, not a single person. We all have our layers, and all our thoughts are not open for inspection, even by those closest to us. As an example, try asking a mother to tell you what her teenager did yesterday, and then ask the teenager the same question…you’ll see that the mother doesn’t have the full picture, because there are some things the teenager won’t let on to his/her mother. You can even turn it around. Ask the child to tell you what their mother has done today more than yesterday. However close, and however observant the child is of his/her mother, they cannot know all the burdens the parent carries with taking care of them, work, other relationships and more. The answer must come from their limited perspective and what the parent has chosen to reveal. If we can’t know everything about people we see and speak with everyday, how can one expect to have all knowledge about any being that can be called GOD (or any knowledge that can be used conclusively to prove or disprove Its existence)?
- It assumes the relationship can be defined and is limited within human relationship constructs. Though Jesus used several human relationships to illustrate the love, concern, authourity and supremacy God has over us, there is no singular human relationship model that defines a Christian’s relationship with God. He is both Father and Brother (what the..?). He is King and He is Friend (reasonable?). He is Teacher and He is Lover (inappropriate?). He is Master and He is Servant (confused?). He is Shepherd and He is Lamb (impossible?)! But fundamentally, He is in Charge! He is the Leader and we are the followers. Our relationship is typified with awe and adoration, fear and submission, humility and dependency. Bottom line is God is not accountable to us, we are accountable to Him.
- It assumes there is a correct answer to the question, which the enquirer knows, and once answered correctly will result in acceptance of the truth. There is no acceptable answer that can be given to someone for whom the only correct answer would be “Man, you got me! For a second there, I thought I knew God!”. Because he doesn’t believe, nor does he understand faith. I might as well be speaking in tongues. It would take the gifting of the Holy Spirit for him to interpret what I am saying in a way he can understand, appreciate and finally, accept!
My recognition that it is impossible to have all knowledge of someone, and that it is I who is growing closer to God, and not the other way around, resulted in him finally coming out with his presupposition: “But you admit that you hardly have any knowledge of him, to me that isn’t a relationship. You’re more of a fan.” He then went on to seal his argument (against reason) that the only valid relationship is one where you know everything about the other person, by saying that “if my father was still here (he passed away 3 years ago) he would do as he always did, telling me what he was doing daily. It doesn’t make him idle, elderly or ‘finished with his work’ it means the exact opposite, he was a great father.”
It sounds like his father was accountable to him… I don’t know how many of you have this type of relationship with your father, where you know everything about them based on what they communicate each day. Am I the only one with a father who has a lot on his plate, much more than I can fathom? In response, I shared my distinct relationship with my earthly father:
“My earthly father is a business man. He loves me dearly. I know I have a relationship with him even though we don’t see or speak daily. He has shown me his love over the years. Sometimes I know his plans. Most times, I don’t. He travels a lot, all around the country and out doing a lot of businesses and politics. I imagine his life is so full and I couldn’t tell you what more he achieved today than yesterday. And even if I were to ask him that strange question, I believe he would save me a bulk of the details, not least because it’s none of my business and there’s no need for me to carry the burdens he shoulders. But I’m not a fanatic. I know him. He is my father.”
R.E didn’t respond to this. You see, relationships are all different. Even the simple ones between a father and his child. Your ethnocentric understanding of relationships cannot invalidate the real experience of mine.
Now, even though he meant the question to poke holes in the Christian belief that we can have a relationship with God, I’d like to use it as an occasion for testimonies today. And though we can’t say all that God has been up to on a day by day basis, we can testify for ourselves, the new thing He has done in our lives! So my question is, what have you witnessed God do in your life recently and how do you know you are drawing nearer to Him?
Even if they don’t believe, let us who believe be edified, and those in expectation be encouraged. You can expect my answer to this in a follow-up post, because this has been long enough! Please use the comments to share your answer, if it is not too personal. Thank you!
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