In my last post, I took a popular communication model and tried to explain my view of Dr. Willard’s title of his book: Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.
In this post, I will try to apply some concepts of communication to help us understand how to relate to God better. The idea is that if it works for humans, maybe it could transfer to a Divine relationship.
How does one empathize with God? Well empathy is a key element to help us relate to humans. What is God’s perspective? Do you think of God as your judgmental parent? Do you think of God as your Santa Claus, gifting you with everything on your list? Do you think of God as a big manipulator, who arranges the world in your favor? This list could go on and on but let’s stop. Do you realize that God wants to relate to you? For me that is the story of the Old Testament, the effort that God is putting forth to relate to man and woman. Finally Jesus arrives on earth to be that Human/Divine Model that we can relate to. How do you empathize with God? For Christians empathy comes from Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:15 states “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. Reading and studying the New Testament is the key.
Be open to developing new skills. To have a good relationship with a human friend one needs to learn to appreciate what they are interested in and find a way to talk to them about it. Instead of saying “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know how”, be open to saying “I will try.” God does not want us to be stagnant. He wants us to grow and use the skills we have. There is nothing worse than the defeated Christian who has relegated themselves to the sideline when they should be in the game. Work to learn new ways of serving. Develop new skills that will help you relate to people and maybe even relate to God.
Commit to prayer. This sounds like a “duh” comment but when you commit to prayer, you are committing to regular communication with God. Whatever you best time is, find it. Use that special time to talk to God and tell Him what is on your heart. I know it is difficult to say that you must have quiet time every day; some people don’t ever seem to have it but find quiet time and talk to God, even if it is on the way to work in your car. The person next to you at the stoplight will only think you have a hands-free cellphone in your vehicle.
Be flexible. People require that and God appreciates it too. Don’t lock yourself down to doing things a certain way and never change. Be open with God. Ask Him to put you where you need to be and He will. Ask him to use your skills and he will find a place for you to use them. I am convinced that God can use flexible people. Human friends like that too. No one likes to be around a “stick-in-the mud.”
Work to learn more about God’s word. The Bible is God’s written message to us and to be honest it is a shame that the United States has more Bibles than people but readership ranks far below ownership. That needs to change for a person who wants to have a conversational relationship with God. Read His word and get to know Him through His word. Better yet, before you read His word, pray for Him to open the meaning of His word to you and He will.
People appreciate honesty. Good friends demand it. No one likes a friend who has a hidden agenda. No one likes a manipulator.
Can you imagine trying to hide things from God. It is absurd to think that you can. God knows everything and you cannot hide your sin from Him. With friends you can do this but when they find out, that damages the relationship. Do you think that trying to be less than honest is good for your relationship with God? It does not help.
Lastly be open. This is a key for relationships. Be sharing of your personal feelings with others. Don’t try to keep things to yourself that you could share with a friend. If they are your friend, they will keep that information private. Some people are so private that they inhibit their relationships. They do not share information from their private lives and people just know the veneer. Break through those inhibitions and really reveal what is on your mind. It can work with humans; it is necessary with God.
I am reminded of song lyrics out of my past, song lyrics that helped give Barbra Streisand a hit in 1964 as she built on her starring role in Funny Girl.
As you read the lyrics and think about what I said above, it is uncanny how much they could apply to relating to God.
“With one person, one very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half,
Now you’re whole.
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person
Who needs people.
People who need people
Are the luckiest people
In the world!”
People who need God are the luckiest people in the world.