I’ve been thinking lately about the nature of our relationship with God, and I’ve been fascinated by the way our theology should inform how we relate to God. The free-grace theists (Arminians, Open Theists, Pentecostals, etc.) have a theology that should lead them to treat the relationship with God as something of a dance or a two-way relationship. God makes a move and then we respond. The determinists (Calvinists, Puritans, Dutch Reformed, etc.) have a theology that should lead them to treat the relationship with God as purely one-sided. God does all the work; he makes a move towards us and then causes us to respond to him by putting the thought into our minds and the desire into our hearts long before we were ever conceived.
Ironically though, one of the things I’ve noticed in both free-grace theists and determinists is that their praxis is inconsistent with their theology. I’ve noticed it in my own life, and while it was much more pronounced when I was a determinist, it still shows up now that I’m a free-grace theist. It’s the constant grind to work on my relationship with God and to view him as wholly “other.” In other words, I’m here doing all this work to make sure that my relationship with God is solid (or perhaps more accurately, that it feels solid), and God is out there somewhere saying, “I told you how to please me. I wrote it in that book you carry around with you. Now, quit screwing around and make me happy.”
So I slave away. I abstain from this activity, I stay away from those people, I refrain from drinking that drink.
But what if our relationship with God is more dynamic than that? What if he’s not out there somewhere issuing commands? What if he’s right here, holding my hand, whispering in my ear, writing me letters? What if he’s telling me to stop worrying about the relationship so much and just enjoy the fact that I’m in one with him?
What if all this concern I have about damaging my relationship with God is just me stressing out about nothing? Somehow I get the feeling that if I were to start pulling away from God, he would start pulling me closer to him. If I begin to drift, he’ll do his part to let me know that I’m drifting and, if it’s in my power to go back to him, he’ll provide me a way to return. If it’s not, he’ll step in and pull me back anyway.
Not that I won’t play my part in the relationship, but not for the sake of the relationship but simply because I want to get to know God more, I want to hear his voice, experience his presence, enjoy his laughter.
But I need to stop working so hard. I need to just be.