Becoming Christian Part two: the Relationship

Relationships are important. Almost everything we do in this world is based on relationships. There are relationships between friends, relatives, neighbors, people we come in contact with every day, boss – employee relationships, and between employees. Fleeting relationships exist for only moments with those we don’t know but come in contact with, perhaps for only for seconds. Those are not that important. Some married couples are fortunate in having relationships based on mutual understanding and trust, and that last for 50 or 60 years or longer. But that isn’t true in most cases. The divorce rate is going up every year.

Accounts of broken relationships fill the news every day. Investment managers are caught stealing millions of dollars from their clients, corrupt politicians are found to have lied to their constituents, those we thought were friends manipulate that relationship with us for their own benefit and corporations violate our trust by using our personal data for unscrupulous activities. In short, it’s hard to form good relationships because so many of our interactions with others fail in one aspect or another.

We form relationships, good, bad or indifferent, from our past experience in life. Our perception of what we want from an interaction with another entity is based on our expectation of the possibilities we understand from our education and personal experience. Often this knowledge is learned in the school of hard knocks, so we distrust our interactions with others until they are proven over time. Friends become good friends and then best friends only after our relationships are tested over months and years. These are based on mutual satisfaction where the performance in the relationships are agreeable to both or all parties involved.

Relationships can be thought of as contracts. A contract requires that all parties have something of value to the other party or parties in the contract, and that they perform their part of the deal adequately. If all parties don’t live up to their end of the bargain, the contract is broken. Our civil court system is clogged with lawsuits concerning broken contracts. Contractual understandings may be put in writing, like leases on apartments, or in financial loans and credit card agreements wherein the credit company agrees to extend credit with a profit made from an agreed on interest rate, or they may be verbal agreements or ones that are just understood between persons who know each other well. We agree to make regular payments to our financial institutions until the terms of a loan contract are satisfied. The contracts are entered into based on the parties’ understanding of what they can expect from the other parties. And, this understanding is based on what we have experienced in life and the reputation of the other parties to the contract.

A contract exists between God and the human race that is difficult for most people to inter into because for most people there isn’t any prior knowledge of God and what is expected of Him in the contract. Nor do many understand what God expects from them. We have no personal prior experience in dealing with God, nor are the explanations of others consistent, so we can’t depend on the accounts of others. And often we feel that God should have done something in a situation that would have altered the outcome of a situation differently than what happened. For example, parents who lose a child through an accident, other violence or a disease often blame God for not protecting the child from harm. In their minds God has broken an unspoken contract with them because they feel that the Lord has violated their subjective, emotional idea of what that contract entails.

The New Testament in the Bible spells out the contract between God and His created beings. God has given us five contracts in all, from His contracts between Adam and Eve, and Moses, to the one called the New Testament, the final contract spelling out what God has of value to us, what we have of value to Him and what performance is expected from all parties involved in this contract. It’s imperative to understand that there is no contract between you and God until you agree to the terms and start fulfilling your part of the deal.

God spelled out how He expects us to enter into this deal in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have everlasting life”. Most of us know that verse. It spells out how we can enter into the New Testament with God, and it delineates the basic performance God promises to perform for us, to give us eternal life. To those who agree to these terms, God tells us what He expects from us in Matthew and Luke: that we are to love God with all our hearts minds, souls and strength to put Him first above all else in life. And what we have of value to God is the ability through Him of being His ambassadors to the world ( 2 Corinthians 5:20). In being His ambassadors we are to ” Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” ( Matthew 28:19, 20).

So then, God wants all people to come back to Him so they will live forever with Him in heaven. And our part of the agreement is to love Him above all else and to be His agents, or ambassadors, on the earth to bring as many people to Him as possible. A corporate executive recruiter once asked a prospective executive what he wanted out of life. The man being interviewed instantly replied, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can”. For once, the recruiter was speechless. But that sums up the New Testament in one sentence.

Notice, too, that John wrote that God will accept “whosoever believes” into Heaven. that’s not just messianic Jews, or the rich and famous, but anyone of any background or social status who accepts the terms of the New Testament and does his part in fulfilling the Great Commission. An upper middle class white man in a Southern state once asked a homeless black man who or what gave him the right to witness to a well off white man. The homeless evangelist replied, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody”. In other words, the evangelist’s authority for witnessing to anyone and everyone was bestowed on him by the Great Commission, by Christ Jesus Himself. And there is no greater authority than that.

Most people have two major stumbling blocks with entering into the contract with God. First, we have no earthly experience on which to base our understanding of a spiritual contract. No worldly foundation exists on which we can base our understanding of and trust in what God expects from us. And second, we don’t want to relinquish our worldly pleasures and status in favor of a life as ambassadors for God. An old bumper sticker said, God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”. The error there is that what God says is settled because He is the creator and maintainer of the universe. It borders on blasphemy to imply that God’s sovereignty depends upon His creation’s sanction.

For those people who are willing to accept God’s terms, there are many who do not trust themselves to be capable of fulfilling the role of ambassador. If you’re one of these people don’t worry about it. Your not required to be qualified. Moses didn’t believe he was able to be God’s ambassador to Egypt and to free the Jews from slavery. God told him He would be with Moses throughout the ordeal, and He would take care of the heavy lifting. God provided miracles to backup and enforce what He instructed Moses to tell the Egyptians, even to the parting of the sea so the Jews could escape.

Like the executive, then, we must put God and His mission He gave us first in life above all else. And we can put Him first only through faith. We are able to enter back in to God’s presence only by His grace through our faith in Him to be what He says He is, and to do what He says He will do: ” By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created In Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” ( Ephesians 2:8-10). God often uses people who others would consider incapable of doing much on their own to do great work for Him precisely so that other people can see the power of God working through that person, because that person had faith in God to do the heavy lifting.

Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were formed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1,2). Faith is the believing that God, who is not visible and works by means invisible to us, is capable of doing what the Bible tells us He will do, even though we have no earthly foundation on which to base our faith. Faith is foundational to our relationship with God because “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)

Jesus tells us that according to your faith be it done to you” ( Matthew 9:29), and if we have faith as small as a little mustard seed which grows into a huge tree, we could move mountains (Matthew 17:20). We are to have faith that if we belong to God He will take care of us: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” God takes care of His own. Also, the verse says that those who do not do works associated with being saved are not really His people, and will not inherit eternal life. That’s because like apple trees bearing apples, Christians bear the works Christ gave them to do in the Great Commission. Works do not save us, they are the evidence of God’s unseen grace and our faith in Him to take care of us by His unseen power.

It is through our ambassadorship that Christ’s will for us is made manifest to the world. The unsaved see Christ through His light shining out through us. Accordingly, Christ Jesus is the object of our faith because “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, He was is in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the life of men, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3, 14). We must have faith in the Word, Christ Jesus, in order not only be saved ourselves, but to bring His light to others.

The Bible was written so that we may have faith in Christ so that we may have life in His name ( John 20:21; 2 Timothy 3:15), because Jesus is the beginning and end of everything, and all in between. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, the Bible (Mark 1:15). If you are struggling to figure out what God expects from you, and what you can expect from Him, the place to start is by reading the Bible. That is where you will find the assurance you need to become a Christian or to grow as a Christian. I urge you to read the Bible every day. If you don’t have one and can’t afford to buy one, many ministries exist in all cities that will give you one. Start reading today. If you are not a Christian, take that first step in faith and accept Jesus as your personal Savior now. Because here is something most people don’t think about: You are not a party to a contract until you accept its terms and start fulfilling your obligations found there in. God is not obligated to you until you accept His terms as found in the Bible. Once you become His, the evidence of God’s before unseen power will manifest itself in your life. As Jesus told Thomas, blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe (John 20: 26-29). Today, right now, is the time to take that step out in faith. Once you do, Christ will support you in doing what he has planned for you to do, and those plans far exceed anything you could even dream about on you own. Accept Christ as Savior now.

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