Cultivating Your Relationship with God
My name is Sarah Ashe, I attend Barnitz UMC, and I am filling in for Pastor Matt this week as a guest blogger. The last time I wrote a blog entry for this web site I focused on following God instead of worrying about worldly problems. Since writing that blog I spent a semester of college working as an intern at a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. I must confess that it was so easy to become consumed by the politics, networking, and fun in D.C. that my faith ended up taking a backburner. Unfortunately I know from experience that when my life gets busy one of the first things to get pushed to the side is my relationship with God. Thankfully God is a very forgiving companion who always lets you rekindle your relationship with Him, no matter how long the time spent apart.
Just like all relationships, the more time you put into cultivating your relationship with God the more you will get out of it. There are many ways to cultivate this relationship: prayer, reading the Bible, participating in a faith-based community, or whatever purposeful activities that draw you closer to God. The key is that whatever you choose to do it needs to be intentional.
However, if you are going through a faith “dry-spell”, I know just how difficult it can seem to re-kindle that relationship, so I thought for this blog I would look to scripture for some verses to inspire either revitalization or a continued strengthening of your relationship with God.
In 2 Peter we are offered a sort of outline for Christian living that I think offers some insight on practical ways to bolster our relationships with God:
4 Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.
5 This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. 8 If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1: 4-9)
In verses 8 and 9 Peter warns that without the addition of other qualities besides faith to our relationship with God we risk being inactive and unfruitful. This is another way of describing the “dry-spell” I mentioned earlier.
Peter mentions seven things that we should try to add to our faith to make a more productive relationship with God. They are:
Affection for others
Half of the listed qualities deal with behavioral assets like being purposeful with our affection toward others in a way that exemplifies God. If we analyze our everyday behaviors to try and achieve moral excellence and godliness, we will naturally be spending more time in relationship with God.
Peter also brings up the importance of discipline through knowledge, self-control, and endurance. It is not always fun or easy to pursue a relationship with God, but that is not the point. If we just want a surface-level relationship with God where we ignore the hard stuff, then we will never be fruitful and, in a way, we will be taking for granted the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. So basically this boils down to us being intentional with seeking out God. We need to take the time daily to be in prayer with God, read the Bible, and consider joining a community of believers that will help keep us accountable to these tasks.
I hope this blog will leave you with the encouragement to either revitalize or bolster your relationship with God through discipline and evaluation because, while it might seem arduous at first, the pay-off is so rewarding and can truly transform every aspect of your life.
May God’s peace and blessings be with you.