The plan of God is first and foremost for you to have a relationship with Him. He wants you to identify with His will and work in this world, but He wants you first to identify with Him. He invites you to be forgiven and enjoy His life in you. He wants to be your Father and desires that you be His child. This relationship with God can happen only when you realize that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19). This reconciliation can come to pass only when you realize that your sin has separated you from God. Only the death of Christ on your behalf can put that right. When you believe that God can make you right with Him, when you repent of your sin and ask His forgiveness, then He grants you His Holy spirit. At that point your relationship with Him begins. Notice I didn’t say that a “religion” begins.
The fact that God calls us to a relationship rather than to a religion was a pleasant surprise to me. Religion itself had a bad connotation in my thinking. I believed that religion would get in the way of my relationships. In fact, I had the idea that religion would mess up any exciting relationship I had!
I was eighteen, at college, and having a wonderful time on the outside. But I was miserable on the inside because my life revolved around my relationships. If my relationships were going well, I was going well. Most of the time, however, they weren’t going well, so I was miserable. Religion didn’t interest me one little bit, but relationships did.
Then I met a girl who was, appropriately, named Grace. She obviously had a relationship with someone special – I was sure of it. She had a little secret smile playing around her mouth and a twinkle in her eye that made her look as though someone was loving her to death. Actually, someone was loving her to life! She was a Christian, the first one I ever remember meeting. Imagine my chagrin when I found out that she was “religious”! Yet she didn’t act, talk, or behave as I had imagined religious people do. How on earth did she have religion and a relationship at the same time? She set me thinking.
The next Christian I met was the girl who told me that I needed a relationship with God. I remember thinking she was just like Grace. In fact, I was sure they were relatives! Once she explained the Gospel to me, I went for it with my heart and soul. This was the relationship that would make all the other relationships in my life make sense. My sin was forgiven, and I put all my earthly relationships in God’s hands from that point on. Those two girls showed me what it meant to relate to the living God, who alone could fill the inner longing for someone special in my life.
Just Between Us Magazine