Our relationship with God

Our relationship with God is portrayed by many different metaphors. Some relate directly to God the Father, some to Christ. Some might seem to contradict each other, but they are all facets of that relationship. Books could be (and have been) written about many of these categories, but here are just a few verses about each one.

Father/children:

John 1:12-13: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I John 3:1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

John 3:3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Galatians 4:6: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Bride/Bridegroom:

Isaiah 61:10: I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Revelation 21:2: And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Shepherd/Sheep:

John 10:11: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:14: I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Isaiah 53:6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The characteristics of a sheep and the care given by the shepherd makes for fascinating study.

Savior/sinners:

Luke 1:47: And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Titus 2:13-14: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

King/subjects:

Colossians 1:13:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.

Matthew 25:31-33: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Teacher/ disciple:

Multitudes of verses about this one.

Relatives of Christ:

Mark 3:35: For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Friends:

John 15:14-15: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Master/servant:

Whoa, wait a minute. Is that even politically correct? And doesn’t that contradict John 15:14-15, quoted just above?

We’re not servants in the sense of being captured and chained and made slaves against our will. We’re not even really servants in the sense of a quiet butler or housekeeper who do their duties as silently and invisibly as possible. Paul wrote in Galatians 1 about the difference between being sons and servants. Yet in many of his epistles he identified himself as the servant of Christ.He called Epaphras a “servant of Christ.” In Romans 6 he talked about being a servant to whatever we yield ourselves to. I Corinthians 9:19 sheds some light when he says, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Jesus was the primary example of a servant. He is called a servant in Old Testament prophecies. Though identifying Himself as Lord and Master, he washed his disciples feet (John 13) and told His disciples to follow His example (vv. 14-15). Philippians 2:5-8 tells us “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

There is an illustration in Deuteronomy about a slave who was given his freedom but out of love chose to stay and serve his master. I think that’s the picture of the type of servants we are. God is the Lord and Master of the universe: He could easily make us do whatever He wanted us to. But He wants us to serve Him with willing and loving hearts.

I don’t mean to be silly or irreverent, but I see glimpses of this in Star Trek or war movies. When you see the captain barking out orders, those under him (usually) willingly obey because they trust him and they are all working for the good of the whole crew. Yet because he cares for them, his relationship with them is more than just giving orders.

A visiting preacher once told of a friend who was on an airplane and noticed that one of the flight attendants was especially attentive, thoughtful, courteous, and went the extra mile in meeting her passenger’s needs. Exiting the flight, he told he he really appreciated the way she took care of her passengers, ending by saying, “You have a real servant’s heart.” In my circles that’s a compliment, but we have to be careful about our “Christian cliches” and the way others might misunderstand them. This woman smiled and appreciated his comments until he said the word “servant,” then she bristled and said she was most definitely not a servant. I can understand that reaction with the negative connotation associated with that word in the world. But she truly was serving, in the best of ways, and we can and should as well, thinking of others’ needs before our own.

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5 thoughts on “Our relationship with God

  1. This is probably not the point that you wanted us to hone in on, but it never crossed my mind not to use the phrase “servant’s heart” and now I can totally see why that’s rather an unwise choice of words! (I am starting to think about how I use Christian cliches in blog posts. Just hadn’t thought of that particular phrase!)

  2. I love how so many of these categories are close-knit relationships. There’s the submission of subjects to their king, but many more of warmth and connection.

  3. Pingback: A bloggy look back at 2012 « Stray Thoughts

  4. Pingback: The Bible and Slavery | Stray Thoughts

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