How to Assess Your Relationship with God
How is your relationship with God?
I can’t think of a more open-ended question than that one.
How am I supposed to answer that? Is it based on how I feel? Do I have a warm-fuzzy feeling about God right now?
Is it about how much I’ve been reading the Bible and praying? Can I quantify my relationship with God on a spreadsheet, noting my consistency over the past week?
The Christian author Elisabeth Eliot had some important insight into Scripture that helps us answer this question.
Several years ago, Elisabeth Eliot taught a series of lessons at Ligonier ministries, titled “Suffering is Not for Nothing”. You can find it here: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/suffering-is-not-for-nothing/.
At the end of her lecture series, she did a question and answer session. She was asked about how people can know God personally. Her answer was to first go to John 14:21, “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (ESV) Knowing God personally is the reward for obedience, Eliot said.
Eliot then pointed out another similar passage, John 15:10: “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” Jesus is saying that his relationship with God is one defined by obedience just like ours.
As she concluded, Eliot had this wise observation, “What was the secret of the union of the Son and the Father? Obedience, obedience, obedience; the most practical way to get to know God. The only way I know.” I think that is a profound application of Jesus’ words. This means that we shouldn't look to our emotions, our sense of "spirituality", how our week is going, or any other similarly superficial data. These are man-made criteria that don't show we are close to him.
Our minds should focus on our obedience to God as we assess our “relationship with God.” We need to ask God to cultivate tender-hearted obedience in us so that we can be submissive to all he expects from us. We need to honor the Spirit by meditating constantly on his word so that we become people who obey him readily and joyfully.
So how is your obedience to God right now? If you are working in a job, are you working for the Lord, or just giving eye-service to your boss? If you are in school, are you applying your mind in a way that brings honor to the name of Jesus? At home, are you loving others by putting their wishes above your own?
The reward for heartfelt obedience to the Lord is a deep sense of love and closeness with him. I pray you are experiencing that.