3 Standards for Measuring Whether or Not We Have a Normal Relationship With God
Everyone who believes in God wants to have a normal relationship with God and to be approved and praised by Him. However, simply because of believing in God, one cannot be approved by Him. For example, the Pharisees believed in God but did things in opposition to God. Therefore, God didn’t recognize that they were believers in Him because they were all antagonistic with Him. From this fact, we can see that it is very important to have a normal relationship with God! Then how should we measure whether we have a normal relationship with God? I’m sure every Christian who thirsts for God is eager to know this.
I. Quiet Ourselves Before God and Enter Into a Genuine Connection With Him
In order to know whether we have a normal relationship with God, we should first see if we quiet our hearts before God and use our hearts to pray, and read His words. Also, we should know whether we have entered into a genuine connection with Him, or in other words, if we have a normal spiritual life. More often than not, we keep on singing hymns, reading scriptures and attending meetings every day, but mostly we are going through formalities without a quiet heart before God. For example, we often pray to God with our lips, but our hearts are filled with household matters and jobs, treating God in a perfunctory manner. Although we read the Bible, we don’t want to understand the truth in God’s words but think that people believing in God must read the Bible. Therefore, we follow a process—just reading in a hasty and mindless way without pondering attentively. Consequently, we can’t gain any enlightenment or light. In daily life and work, we often do things according to our carnal pleasures, and are speaking and acting like non-believers. All these things show that we have no place for God in our hearts, nor do we have true association with Him in spirit. Moreover, we cannot feel the presence of God, and are often weak and powerless in our hearts. So, we don’t have a normal relationship with God at all.
God’s words say, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “The way that people believe in God, love God, and satisfy God is by touching the Spirit of God with their heart and thereby obtaining His satisfaction, and by using their heart to engage with God’s words and thus being moved by the Spirit of God. If you wish to achieve a normal spiritual life and establish a normal relationship with God, then you must first give your heart to Him. Only after you have quieted your heart before Him and poured your whole heart into Him will you gradually be able to develop a normal spiritual life.” From God’s words we can see that the most fundamental requirement for us believers in God is that we must come close to God and touch Him with our hearts. Only then can we be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. No matter how busy we are, if we can be quiet before God, pray to Him with a focused and sincere heart, and read a passage of God’s words with a pure heart, then we can feel the presence of God and be enriched in our spirit the whole day. Ordinarily, whether we are at home or in any other places, we are not hindered from being quiet before God, drawing close to Him with our hearts, contemplating His love, and pondering His words. If we can speak the words within our hearts to God at any time, whenever we meet trouble, or when we are weak, then we will clearly feel the arrangements, care, and protection of the Holy Spirit in our everyday life. In this way, we will unknowingly be spiritually strong and feel the loveliness of God, thereby getting closer to God.
II. Rectify Our Intentions and Accept God’s Observation
How do we do or say anything? Is it by rectifying our intentions, accepting observation of the Spirit of God and acting according to God’s words, or is it following our own will and ideas in everything? In real life, no matter whether we get along with people or deal with the work of the church, we often mix our own intentions in them and ignore whether our actions are in accordance with God’s will, doing things in a way that only benefits us. Take our work and preaching as an example. Though we can suffer outwardly, in fact we do that entirely for making a deal with God in order to gain His blessings. We pay a small price for great blessings and take our spending and sacrificing as bargaining chips for entering into the kingdom of heaven. And oftentimes, it is for showing off ourselves to gain admiration of brothers and sisters and gain commendation from the leaders. In addition, sometimes we help and support brothers and sisters from the outside when we see they are not in good conditions. However, our intention is winning a good reputation instead of bringing them before God to know His will. We cannot bring all we do before God and accept God’s observation, so how can we be praised by God? This reminds me of the Pharisees in the Age of Grace. Although they worked hard, sacrificed and expended for God all their life, yet they did it not for satisfying God but for gaining others’ admiration, and for their status and livelihood. Therefore, even if they suffered much pain, they would not be praised by God. In God’s eyes, all they did had nothing to do with God. As believers in God, not only did they not gain God’s praise, but they were called evildoers by Him. Just as the Lord Jesus once said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). From these words, we can see that God judges whether we are good or evil not by our outward work and sufferings, but by whether we are doing it for the sake of loving and satisfying God. If we can bring our actions and words before God and all we do is practice the truth and satisfy God instead of scheming for our own interests, then God will examine our hearts and accept all we have done. Just as the Lord Jesus once said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
III. Only Seek to Love God When Trials Come Upon Us
What do we do when unpleasant things happen to us? Do we seek God’s will, seek to love and satisfy God or produce conceptions about God and nurse resentment in our hearts? Most of the time, we only expect to enjoy grace and blessings from God. Once the unpleasant things happen to us, we are negative and weak. What’s worse, some of us are so resentful that they reason with God. Their misunderstandings about God and their barriers against God are increasingly deepened, so that they are totally hostile to God and begin to plummet downward in spirit. The book of Proverbs says, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but Jehovah tries the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3). In fact, the more people love God, the more they seek the truth and rely on God in sufferings and trials, and thus the more they bear bright and resounding witness. Take Job as an example. He believed in God and never thought of blessings or disaster. When the trials came upon him, in which his masses of wealth were stolen away by robbers, all his children died in a disaster and his body became covered in sore boils, but Job didn’t sin with his lips but he first came before God to seek. According to his many years of experience, Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Thus, he was praised by God and gained greater blessings. Besides Job, Abraham is another example. When he heard God’s voice, he obeyed God and endured the pain of returning his only son Isaac to God, bearing bright and resounding witness to God. He was called the father of faith by his descendants. There was also Peter. He was tried many times in his life. He never had complaints of God. He finally was crucified upside down for God, so as to achieve the supreme love of God and obey unto death. If we can imitate them and not jump to conclusions or have complaints when things happen that are inconsistent with our conceptions, but seek truth from them and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. Then our normal relationship with God will never be disturbed or impaired by any person, matter or thing. And we will truly live in the light of God’s countenance.
God’s work is wonderful and unfathomable. God’s wisdom is endless. Establishing a normal relationship with God is the first step in our spiritual journey.
Read more on our Sermons on Prayer page, or click on the related articles below:
• I No Longer Pray Just for God’s Grace
• 4 Keys to Help Our Prayers Be Accepted by God
• The Mystery in the Lord’s Prayer: Is the Kingdom of God Really in Heaven?