Where Do I Begin???

Start a Relationship With God

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It has been said that relationships are the centerpiece of the human experience. Without them, life seems to lose its meaning. Even early in life, we begin to dream of someday finding our soul mate, starting a family, and enjoying the times together. Our life consists of an entire portfolio of various types of relationships. Friends, neighbors, rivals, and even strangers all contribute to the delicate blend of relationships that make up our experience of life.

But there’s a drawback to all these relationships, and invariably it leads to conflict and problems as we interact with others. Entering into a relationship means giving up the freedom of going it alone. Instead of calling all the shots in our isolated life, we are forced to revise our plans to include the desires of others. It’s an ongoing struggle to balance the obligations and demands others place upon us.

The same is true with God. On one hand, we want a meaningful connection with our Creator. But on the other hand, we’d like to do things our own way. So in an attempt to establish good terms with God, we ask the question, “What do I need to do?” We want to measure the ways that we are earning God’s favor. We’ll follow the rules, attend church, and give some money, whatever it takes to be good enough. Unfortunately, our true motive is simply to live our lives our way…as much as possible…without forfeiting the relationship we need so desperately. We want it our way, but we also want God with us.

The problem is subtle, but VERY important to recognize. First, if we’re not careful, we take what could have been a beautiful relationship and reduce it down to contractual terms. In lieu of sincerely putting God first in our lives, we began to “work” the list of dos and don’ts, looking for ways to get by without really knowing him. As a result, we exchange the very thing we want–relationship–for what we don’t need more of–rules.

The second issue is even bigger: the nature of sin. The Biblical writers say that we’re all sinful (Romans 3:23), which means that we all act against what God wants. But, the problem with our wrongdoing is that we just don’t see it the way God does. Doubting God’s wisdom often seems to be worth the risk. We tend to be more concerned about inconveniences in our lives than with sin. We’ve become used to it. But if we will look at sin through God’s eyes, it becomes quite a sobering problem.

Our instinctive reaction to sin is to handle it the same as any other problem: solve it. When something catches on fire, you douse it with water. When something spills, you wipe it up. We have countermeasures for everything in life. So it’s no surprise that our initial response when confronted with our sin is to counteract it with a corresponding quantity of good. We believe that’s how we should reconnect with God. It seems to make sense.

In fact, the religious people of most religions think the same way. Every time a sin was committed, we feel that a “sacrifice” needs to be made. But as the Bible clearly teaches, there’s more to dealing with sin than simply covering it over. Sin demands a penalty that good actions can’t counteract. Sin produces separation from God or “death.” We can’t have an authentic connection with a perfectly loving and just God when we fail to be perfectly loving and just.

Whether it’s just a little anger toward your brother or full-blown murder, evil actions demand a verdict. We don’t get out of the courtroom on good behavior, we only get out if we are innocent. And none of us are innocent.

So, if the consequences of our sinfulness are so severe, and if trying to keep a list of rules flies in the face of a genuine relationship, then what are we to do? The answer lies not in what we ourselves should do, but what has been done for us. God sent his son Jesus Christ to suffer the consequences of our sin and restore us from death so that we might experience a relationship with God as we were meant to. Paul summarizes this good news:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV).

This amazing gift of grace is for everyone. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). That means that Jesus has a special place in his heart for those who have burned themselves out trying to work their way into God’s favor. When we finally surrender our desire to earn God’s favor and place our faith in Christ, we receive his forgiveness of our sins and enter into a new relationship with God as our Father. There are no magical formulas, secret passwords, or elaborate ceremonies for starting this new relationship with God. Many people simply pray to God to tell Him this is the decision they have made. Here’s a simple example:

“God, I want a relationship with You. But I realize that my selfishness and sin has gotten in the way. But God, I’m tired and I’ve come to the end of myself. And I now believe that what’s been missing from my life is You. And You knew I didn’t need more rules, or more education, or a chance to be better—I needed a Savior. Thank you for sending Jesus to be my Savior. I believe He lived, died, and rose from the grave to forgive my sins, conquer death, and give me new life and hope. I place my trust in Him. I want to grow in a relationship with You. I know it won’t always be easy, but I’ll do my best to follow You.”

(At oneChurch, if you leave with a clear understanding of one thing, we want that one thing to be an understanding that God loves you, and that He has moved heaven and earth to pave the way for you and Him to have an intimate relationship. This summary is the start to a conversation about the message of the Bible that we hope you will discuss with us, with friends, and with God. This is a summary that we hope you’ll think about and that you’ll pass on to people who also need this affirming message. The Bible is a message of good news, not a rule book to be followed!)

Please feel free to contact us or visit our media website to learn more about God and His love for you. We will ALWAYS make time to have a conversation where we address the questions and concerns of those who want to know more about the God of the Bible. We recommend having a look at our Christianity 101 content online as a starting point for your search.

www.onechurchmedia.tv/christianity101

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