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What Does It Mean to Pursue God?

About ten years ago a team of men and I started the initial process of trying to communicate the principle of “pursuing God.” One of the major difficulties we faced while writing on this topic was the common terms we tend to use when describing the spiritual disciplines-terms such as “daily quiet time.” Why do you think this was so difficult? Because the language we use in the church is inherently “obligation” language. We would write about “being in the Word,” about prayer, etc., and there was “obligation” in everything we wrote. We finally began to understand that we couldn’t communicate what God had put on our hearts if we used this language. If we were going to communicate effectively we had to begin to speak about our relationship with God in a different way.

We saw that God was calling us to a passionate relationship with him. It wasn’t about a list of disciplines that must be followed to know him. We needed to use relational terms to effectively communicate. The question we needed to answer was What are the key elements of any healthy relationship?

Elements of a Healthy Relationship

The diagram above illustrates what I believe are the five elements in any healthy relationship. These elements are necessary whether we are talking about a relationship with God or with another person. In our relationship with God, the process starts with a level of commitment to him and moves into communication, confrontation, covenanting, and co-laboring. Let me briefly summarize these five elements before we take a deeper look at each of them in the rest of this chapter and in the next three chapters.

Commitment to God

How can you have a relationship if there’s no commitment? You can have an “accommodation,” but not a relationship. Whether in marriage, business, or the church, there must be commitment to work toward a healthy relationship.

Having a commitment to God starts with a choice but is sustained by continuing to grasp the opportunity to pursue him. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Salvation is only the beginning of the process that threads throughout our entire lives. If you are God’s son, then it’s time to grasp the opportunity to pursue him in relationship. Are you continuing to choose to follow Jesus? Matthew 4:19-20 recounts the calling of Christ’s first followers, ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Communication with God

Communication with God is the second key element in having a relationship with God and pursuing him. I cannot think of any relationship in my life that will exist for very long without good, effective communication. In our relationship with God, it is the Word, worship, meditation, and prayer that allow us to communicate with him. Are you grasping the opportunity to walk in his presence?

Confrontation with God

Let’s refer back to a statement we made previously in this book: The depth of our relationships, whether with God or with others, will be determined by the level of conflict we are willing to journey through. The commitment to journey through conflict with God is the third important building block of our relationship with him. I want to suggest to you that you won’t have a growing, healthy relationship unless you work through conflict. An unwillingness or avoidance to work through conflict limits, or even stops, the process of going deeper into relationship.

Covenanting with God

The fourth element is covenanting with God. Ongoing relationship depends on some kind of agreement or covenant determining how we are going to interact with one another. We usually informally work through the process of relationship without realizing we are building trust or a covenant with each other. We covenant with each other that “If you respond a certain way, I’m going to respond back in a certain way.” I believe every relationship at some level has a covenant. We need to be more aware of this in our relationship with God.

Co-laboring with God

There’s a product that comes out of every relationship. The last element, co-laboring or co-creating with God, is the goal and result of a deepening relationship with Christ. Living at this co-laboring, co-creating level allows us to function as spiritual fathers.

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