Our relationship with God is really a function of 2 specific questions. These questions can actually be presented in a two-dimensional matrix. How do you stand on the Christianity Grid? ♦
Remember the old term “Backslider” to describe that Christian who had “fallen away” from the faith? Wikipedia refers to it as “a term used within Christianity to describe a process by which an individual who has converted to Christianity reverts to pre-conversion habits and/or lapses or falls into sin; when a person turns from God to pursue their own desire.”
We get that. Actually we’ve all seen this, Christian or not, all through our life, when a friend or family member drifts away temporarily or even permanently from their previous devotion to the Christian faith of their upbringing.
I recall the night I went forward in an old-fashioned “altar call” after hearing a youth pastor present the Gospel message about Jesus, his death and resurrection, and the invitation to accept the gift of eternal life and to follow Him as my Personal Savior. Made sense to me as a 14-year-old. My friends were excited for me and congratulated me after the service for “becoming a Christian.”
I remember they also congratulated the 2 other friends who had “re-dedicated” their life to Christ that night. I didn’t quite understand that at the time – seemed to imply there was a dedication problem that just got rectified. Nevertheless, everyone was happy and in a celebratory mood.
I’ve since then come to better understand the plight of us Christians who fall out of sync with our faith and backslide to a point of no return or to a point of need for a reset or re-dedication.
Either way, the good news is that God is patient with us and waits, even longs, for our reawakening. Better yet if we can avoid the pitfalls and drivers that can cause that spiritual drifting which affects so many of us.
The Christianity Grid
If you think about it, our relationship to God, as revealed in the Biblical Scriptures and manifested in human history through the Hebrew people, the birth of Christ, His atoning sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection, and perpetual spiritual existence to this day via the Holy Spirit, is really a function of 2 specific questions:
- Do I Know God? – True knowledge of God goes beyond an intellectual assent of God and any or all of the religious stories in the Bible. It goes beyond mere actions of faith and even apparent good deeds: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23) The fundamental key here is a personal walk/relationship with God/Christ/Holy Spirit. Do I have an intimate relationship via prayer and absorption of the Word of God, the Bible?
- Do I Trust God? – Trust in God implies belief and faith in God. Per the Bible, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Extended, this involves the personal relinquishing of control and authority and the overcoming of fear and trepidation of things unknown and unseen. Am I putting full faith and trust in God or in myself or even other people? Who’s actually in control of my life, me or God?
The Christianity Grid allows one to ask these two questions and rate your answers either High, Medium, or Low. A “Low/Low” answer to these questions would place one in the lower left corner; a “High/High’ answer would place one in the upper right corner – obviously an ideal. We can see that we can actually have gradations of a knowledge/relationship walk with God as well as levels of trust along a spectrum.
This grid can provide a simple snapshot of where one honestly stands relative to their personal relationship with God and the level of integration there is in one’s life. Is my faith lived out in all things, or do I have head knowledge of God but not a personal Spirit-led relationship? Are all earthly elements in my life under my authority or God’s?
Bearing in mind the two questions of the Christianity Grid, how do I work my way into the upper right box? For those on the perpetual Christianity faith roller-coaster of ups and downs, backsliding, and repeat re-dedications, I would challenge you on these 3 fronts:
- Bible intimacy – knowledge of God comes from reading and understanding God’s character, love, power, promises, actions, plans, ways, and means. There is no substitute for the personal studying of God’s Word. One can do this alone, with a friend, or in a small group. A good study guide helps, but ensure that the focus is Biblical scriptures, their historical and larger context, and relevant application to knowing God. The key is to just do it.
- Prayer intimacy – these Biblical Viewpoints include many posts focused on prayer and practical prayer practices and approaches. Prayer is intimacy with God – a direct conversation with your Creator who loves you and yearns for your relationship. Treat it seriously but naturally, without fanfare and over-engineering. God is as directly accessible and more available than even your best-friend. Through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, God can literally become your new best friend.
- Life intimacy – circumstantially we face issues and choices every day. Our relationship with God and trust level is often reflected in how we make decisions and confront challenges, roadblocks, pain, suffering, even tragedy. Life intimacy with God reflects our level of control and over-arching perspective on the purpose of our own existence. If we know, love and trust God, then in all things we seek Him vs. the cares and affairs of this world. We’re not to isolate; we’re to be in but not of the world. A life intimate with God is at full rest, peace, even joy, in all circumstances.
Again, the good news is that God loves us, works and waits for us. He has great plans for those that love and follow Him whole-heartedly. It’s a life-time calling and journey. One worth betting your life on.
Where do you stand on the Christianity Grid?
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33