A Christian catch line
“Righteousness is a product of our relationship with God not the other way around.”
I have repeatedly heard this phrase over the years. I myself have been a member of the chorus who give a hearty “amen” upon hearing it.
Recently the Holy Spirit has impressed upon me however, that though I agreed to the nice sounding tagline, I, and perhaps many others, didn’t fully grasp or live its true meaning.
It’s easy to say the right lines, but much harder to put our money where our mouth is. Are we trusting that when we open ourselves to God that He will be the one to redesign our messy desires and lives? Do we actually believe that God wants intimacy with us in our dirty, sinful state? Why then do we try to clean ourselves up before we commune with Him?
Unfortunately, our underlying doubts, over what we say we believe are often what predominantly influences our actions. Our “what ifs” cause us to hone in on our imperfections exhausting ourselves with criticism. Beating our chests, we wallow in shame, hoping that we will earn God’s forgiveness or decrease our chances of messing up again.
We are taking back the work we ourselves declared was the Lord’s.
What’s written above has almost perfectly described how I have lived for many years. Saying one thing and living another – a textbook hypocrite!
Its not something that I ever recognised, however. It never clicked that there was such a huge disconnect between my head knowledge and my actions.
Upon the realisation of this my immediate response was to think...
‘wait a minute, I am saying that relationship is what will ultimately result in myself becoming more holy. My improvement doesn’t come from self-shaming or striving, it comes from Him.’
These were good thoughts to have! Unfortunately, my trajectory was still off course though. I began to pursue my relationship with God as my means of becoming righteous.
A distant feeling
In this model of my relationship with God, I was feeling distant from Him. Things didn’t seem so personal. My relationship was becoming task oriented and not intimacy focused.
Another course correction
I had learnt that my relationship with the Lord would be what changed me. However, something was still not right.
It was then, as I was explaining this all to a mentor, that he said to me “you aren’t in relationship with God to fix yourself. You need t be in relationship with Him just for Him! To know Him.”
This totally woke me up!
Yes, being with the Lord is where I am made new. However if my agenda when with the Lord is just to remedy my brokenness then I am really just using Him. I again am taking His work back into my own hands– ‘I can do it by spending time with you!’
This disrupted my intimacy with God. Instead of spending time with Him for Him, it was for what I could get from Him – Even if its what I thought He wanted.
New frame of mind
It is my thinking now that when we let go of our struggling and turmoil and spend time communing with Him as a friend the love bond we naturally form is what gives us the conviction and ability to refine our lives.
What I am saying here is not to undermine us utilising self-control and willpower to refrain from wrong and choose the right. The Bible encourages and commands us to live well. Nor am I saying that we as individuals don’t have any part to play in forsaking sin.
What I mean is more along the lines of – if we are supposed to become like someone how can, and why would we do that without knowing and loving that person?
We need to be in partnership with God to overcome the giants in our lives. How can we hope to overcome them if we are omitting our partner! (Especially considering He is the stronger and wiser of the duo).
We know that our relationship with God is what ultimately changes us, but it can be difficult to really live like we believe it. Its hard to let go of an ‘I can do this all myself’ attitude and to lean into a love relationship with the creator. Believing that we can come to Him exactly where we are at, not trying to achieve perfection before we meet with Him is crucial! When we do this we are living out a trust that He Himself will come to partner with us giving us the desire and ability to change.
Lucy Miles can often be found singing or dancing her way through any one particular moment. Such joyous expression is brought forth from her love of the Lord, learning and people. She currently lives in Switzerland and is enrolled in a Ministry and Leadership Development School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and is excited to step into a staff role in January of next year.