I don't know about the rest of you, but I am tired of seeing so many messed-up relationships everywhere I look. For example, just to mention some people I know, Susie is going out with Paul, but then Susie goes to Paul's basketball game and meets Paul's best friend, Steve. Then the two of them start dating behind Paul's back, but Paul has been seeing Susie's friend, Janet, for two months, the same two months Susie and Paul have dated.
Needless to say, relationships like these do not last. After watching Paul, Susie, Steve and Janet (not their real names) make a mess of their relationships, I've decided to place a classified advertisement for a friend who will contribute to a friendship based on love. Why not? Paul and Susie seem a little too preoccupied to bother. Here is the ad.
Wanted: Someone to listen to my problems. Someone who understands my feelings. Someone who can relate to my trials. Someone who can be trusted and who will trust in me. Someone who respects my beliefs. Someone who supports my endeavors. Someone who will help me make the correct decisions. Someone to always be there. Someone who can forgive my shortcomings, no matter how awful. Someone who will love me with the bad yet help me strive for the good.
Not many qualified
Well, all right, I might not get many responses to my ad, but it helps me make an important point. No mere human being could meet the demands of my ad. God is the only who can comply with and actually surpass my requirements. He is flawless and perfect, the epitome of goodness and righteousness.
God's qualifications far exceed those listed in the ad. In fact, He wants to build a relationship with each human being and invite each person to become a member of His family, even Paul and Susie.
Why would the Creator of the universe even consider befriending a human being?
The thought of such a personal relationship between God and a mere human is almost beyond our feeble comprehension. King David looked up into the starlit sky in awe of God's creation and pondered this very question, "What is man that You are mindful of him . . .?" (Psalm 8:4). God loves all of us, and because of this He wants to develop a close relationship with human beings, who are His creation, His future children.
If God is our Father, doesn't it seem like a good idea to build an association with Him like our relationship with our physical father? God is far a greater Father than any human father could be, but, because He allows us to call Him "Father," we can see His plan for all of us.
First, we learn through fear of God much like we first learned through fear of our parents. When I was 5 and misbehaved, I often feared my parents' punishment. Yet, as time went on, I learned to do things to please them, just as we learn to keep God's law to please Him. Eventually I discovered that My parents were right. Their standards became mine, just as Christians keep God's commandments as they develop His mind (I Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:5).
God wants a parental relationship with all of humanity. Don't we have to contribute to the relationship as well? How can we develop a relationship with God? God provides for each of His children, but what can we possibly do for Him?
God gives us instructions in the Bible. He tells us to pray, to prove all things, to give glory and honor to Him through singing, fasting and helping others. He also tells us to keep His commandments.
The first four of the Ten Commandments apply directly to God and the last six to our fellowman, although the latter also show love to God indirectly. Since the first four honor God directly, let's take a look at them in this article in view of our commitment to Him.
First things first
The First Commandment says put God first. He gave His only Son to be beaten and mocked so we can call Him Father. He put us first; the least we can do is to put Him first.
We should not try to compact the Supreme Being of the universe into the form or shape of a tiny piece of stone or wood to make up for a lack of faith. The Second Commandment tells us not do this.
The Third Commandment warns us not to take God's name in vain. However minor this commandment may appear, breaking it is anything but minor. Imagine for a moment if people shouted your name every time something went wrong and accompanied it with a lot of four-letter words. It wouldn't exactly be a compliment, would it?
Then the Fourth Commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. The Sabbath was made for man and given to man as a gift from God. If we do not share this gift with the Giver, we not only break a commandment, but we express to Him a lack of appreciation. If we do not keep this Holy Day, we are actually throwing the gift away. God made the gift; we need to enjoy it with Him. God gives us the universe as our inheritance, so we should feel honored to give Him a tiny bit in return for His love.
How can God understand?
We know we cannot keep the commandments flawlessly, but how can a perfect Being-God-realize our frustration at not being able to do so? But God does understand. He sent Jesus Christ to earth as a human being to save humanity from itself. When Christ walked among human beings, He felt what they feel and can therefore relate to us even more. When He fasted 40 days and nights, He got hungry.
When each of Jesus' disciples betrayed Him, He hurt, just as we are hurt by someone who betrays us (like Paul and Susie, mentioned earlier). Our Savior had to face temptations of wealth, power and pride just as we do, except that Christ was tested on a much larger scale.
Jesus Christ lived a perfect life in spite of His trials. He overcame, and, if we stay close to Him, He will lead us through our temptations and trials. As long as we are human, we cannot be perfect, but we must strive for perfection as God leads us. God is qualified to relate to our problems. One of His recorded names is Counselor; He knows how to listen.
Important in a good relationship, especially between parent and child, is the trust a child places in his parents. The parent knows to do what is best for the child, just as God knows His children's needs and wants. Our Maker gives us what we need, not always what we want.
I have seen God do this in my life several times. The answered prayer that meant the most to me came during the summer of 1992. I had just graduated from grade school and was about to go away to summer camp for the first time. At the mature age of 14, I was terrified at the idea of living away from home for three weeks.
"You'll have so much fun!" I kept reassuring myself as I arrived at camp late the night before it began. Then I broke down and found a private place to cry.
I guess I ran out of tears because I eventually climbed into my top bunk for the night. I prayed, as I stared at the cabin ceiling, for God to allow me to wake up in my own bed in Illinois. However uninteresting my room back home was, at least I would be with my mommy and daddy (yes, I still said mommy and daddy), sisters and brother.
Early the next morning-as I got over the initial shock of discovering I had not been transported during the night back to my home in Illinois-I crawled out of my bunk and saw my bunkmate smiling at me. We greeted each other, but I was not overly friendly. After all, God said no to my prayer, and I knew I would have to endure three weeks of no family. Yet, as the day progressed, I learned my bunkmate's name and the names of the other 22 girls in my dormitory.
We were a large group of girls with similar beliefs, dreams and aspirations. We were a unit, yet somehow closer than that word implies; it was as if we were a family.
God knew I needed to extend my family. He didn't bring me back to Illinois to give me what I wanted, but kept me at that summer camp in Minnesota to give me something else I needed-a spiritual family.
Now that I think about my ad (remember? The one at the beginning of this article), I really do not need it. God is the answer, and He doesn't need an ad to tell Him how much I need Him. God is willing to be my Father whenever I need Him.
God will give all who sincerely seek Him eternal life and a place in His family. Everyone can be involved in this relationship-and there is none better in all of eternity.