A Theology of Relationships

Our Relationship with God: Rebellion or Redemption

Do you ever walk into a room and try to avoid a mirror like the plague?

Welcome to my Tuesday morning. I arrived at work, started the morning coffee (which is most necessary, of course), and then went to the ladies room. Since I had been in there before, I knew there were mirrors, and I knew if I looked to the right or the left of them, I wouldn’t have to catch the sight of my reflection. I could not bear to see the less-than-happy face, the darkened circles and bags around my eyes, or the hair that I had ‘attempted’ to fix moments before I left the house. I didn’t want to see what reflection would return to my eyes as I looked into the mirror.

We are all reflections of God because we are created in His image (Gen. 1:27). So, when we look in the mirror, we are to see ourselves as handcrafted by God Himself: we are living examples of God’s creativity and power. Our created being is not the only reflection we are to see, though; our relationship with God is also reflected in our lives.

Over the next month, we’re looking specifically at relationships in the life of the Christian, and the place we have to begin is always with our relationship to and with God himself. Though some would disagree and say there are many ways to define your ‘personal’ relationship with God, the Bible is clear that there are only two types of relationships with God—one of redemption and one of rebellion. Ephesians 2 helpfully walks us through this truth, by showing us what kind of relationship with God we have by nature and what kind of relationship we can have with God through Christ. Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, saying,

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”— (2:1-5).

After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3), mankind’s right relationship with God was severed. This is why the passage states that we “were by nature children of wrath,” meaning that we did not inherit a right and perfect relationship with God, though He did create us in His image. Sin now separates us from God, resulting in a human nature that is contrary to the things of God—we are, by nature, children of rebellion. But, the passage also tells us that God makes some of His creation “alive together with Christ.” God can and does bring some into a relationship of redemption through the blood of Christ. God has a relationship with all those He has created, and since He created us all, He has a relationship with each of us. Those relationships, however, are very different.

Relationship of Rebellion

For those walking in a relationship of rebellion with God, the reflection you see in the mirror is one of hopelessness. The ‘live your best life now’ seems encouraging, but after you’ve striven to do that for some time, your heart and body grow weary, and you’re left to think about what happens when this life comes to an end. Scripture tells us that, apart from Jesus Christ, we live in the passions of our flesh and carry out the desires of the body and mind (Eph. 2:3). We are “dead in our trespasses.” Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” again reminding us that all have the fallen nature, but not all have the same relationship with God. In Romans 6, Paul says (talking to fellow Christians), “we know that our old self was crucified with Him [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing”; those who are living in rebellion are still letting the body of sin reign. If this rebellion and hopelessness describes you, be encouraged by the Ephesians 2 passage because God CAN make you alive together with Christ. God desires that people know Him and that none should perish; turn to Him in faith and joyfully embrace the freedom of a redemptive relationship with God. God is the only one who can restore your relationship with Him.

Relationship of Redemption

For those of you who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and who are in right relationship with God because of Christ, do not let your eyes glaze over as we talk about this beautiful relationship of redemption. Read again the words of Paul from Ephesians 2: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loves us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” How great and glorious this is! After all we know ourselves to be—a people after our own passions and desires, children of wrath, dead in our trespasses—God rescues us! He sends Jesus to live in perfect obedience, to die while completely sinless, and to be raised from the dead victorious. God conquers death through His Son and provides a way for us to be redeemed before Him, through the blood of His Son.

Now, through redemption, the dynamics of our relationship with God have changed. He was once only our creator and judge, but He is now our savior as well. He not only redeems us, but also adopts us as sons and daughters. We have not only escaped the wrath of God through Jesus’ blood, but God now favors us. He graciously interacts with us on a daily basis, through the Scriptures, the hearing and answering of prayers, and community with other saints. Even here we can see that He goes beyond taking our penalty and allows us access to Him and extends to us a very intimate and personal relationship with Him. The world can shout at the Christian and say that our God cannot be loving as we claim Him to be because of the tragedy He allows in the world. But, sweet friends, He extends the most intimate, affectionate, gracious, and loving relationship to all those who are His. Christ lovingly and graciously pardoned us from our rebellion and will one day welcome us into His heavenly kingdom to live with Him forever as His son or daughter.

Child of God, be reminded of the simplicity, yet great responsibility, with which we commune with our God and grow in relationship with Him.

We do this in three primary ways –

  1. Bible Reading: We commune with God through reading the Word because this is the way in which He speaks to us. We no longer look to visions and prophets, but instead to the true and inspired Scriptures—this is where we are continually refined. (If you’d like to check out a helpful and insightful sermon titled ‘The Word of the Lord,’ click here.)
  2. Prayer: God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer. We confess, make petitions, offer praise, and cast our anxieties on Him in prayer (1 Pet. 5:7).
  3. Local Church Membership: God commands us to meet with one another for mutual encouragement, for disciple-making, and to worship corporately through song, prayer, and to hear the preached Word. One of the best ways to learn about God and the way He works in the lives of believers is to invest in the lives of other believers. Our personal relationship with God is enhanced and made stronger under the encouragement and exhortation of brothers and sisters who themselves have a relationship of redemption with our God.

So, next time you are avoiding the mirror, be challenged to think on your relationship with God. Imagine the image reflected back at you is one of a redeemed sinner, made right by the God who first created and then redeemed you.