How do you know if you have a good relationship with someone? Your initial reaction may be to evaluate based on the presence or absence of conflict. “We never argue.” But, how healthy is a relationship that does not have any disagreement, misunderstanding, arguments or forgiveness?
What if a healthy relationship was not the absence of conflict but rather the way in which it arises and is handled?
Let’s face it, if you are in a relationship with someone then you can be assured that there is a selfish sinner in it. This means that you will be saying, doing, and assuming things that are not loving. There will be a need for forgiveness to be extended. The conflict in the relationship is merely an occasion for relational intimacy. Through honesty and compassion the relationship goes to deeper levels. It is a bit counterintuitive though, but conflict–when handled properly–can help serve the relationship.
What about your relationship with God? Would you say that it is healthy? Is it mature? Is it deepening?
The dynamics change a bit here, but you are still in it so there is still a sinner in the relationship. Therefore, if you are being honest, there are going to be things that you do not understand, assume, and misread. You will reflex toward yourself rather than service. You will bring questions, complaints, burdens, and confusion to God. Is your relationship with God mature? Can it handle your deepest questions? Can you bring your fears? Do you trust him with insecurity? Do you unload your misunderstandings? Does your prayer life reflect the Psalmists’ groaning? Is there a clear pathway to the throne of grace where you come and unburden your heavy heart before God? Do you trust him to help you?
The prophet Habakkuk is one example of this type of mature, intimate, and healthy relationship with God. But, when you start reading the book in chapter 1 you might think he is on the JV team of spirituality. However, as you read the book and get into the stream of the narrative you realize that this guy is swimming in the deep end. His trust in God may be shaken a bit but, let’s remember, he is praying! He is looking for answers! Habakkuk shows us that you can complain to God without complaining about God. He prays, trusts, waits, listens, and hopes. And, at the end of the book he is ready to die clinging to God his strength (Hab. 3:17-19).
Are you trying to keep your relationship sanitary and safe? Have you bought the lie that this is what mature Christianity looks like? We are people that “have it all together”? Our shirts stay starched, pressed, and perfect? This is not reality. We live in a mess of a world. We are always getting soiled, wrinkled, jostled, and stained. Yet, we come to our Father, trusting and treasuring him, as we are, unburdening our hearts in prayer.
A mature relationship with God is not sanitary and starched. It is lived in, worn, and stretched. It is not superficial or free from conflict. Let’s be honest, we have all kinds of issues–with God, ourselves, and others (by issues I mean our sin). But, because of the gospel we can be honest about these things with God. We come to him remembering who he is and what he has done. We come to him in prayer, asking him to help us to understand (Hab. 3:1-3). We live by faith in a good God (Hab. 2:4) while we live in a complicated world. God uses this to deepen our relationship with him.
Do you have a healthy or superficial relationship with God? The answer to this starts by asking what you do about conflict. Do you have any? And, how does it come up and how is it resolved?