Among his varied other writing interests, Richard Parr aspires to creating interesting and inspiring stories about life.
In Part 1 I shared thoughts on logic and faith in God. Now let's consider what relationship we might have with the Creator.
As already said, logic can bring us only so far in understanding God. Deeper knowledge requires a relationship with Him.
So what does the seeker do?
Surely the "logical" first step in seeking a relationship with an invisible God is a tentative mixture of assumption, sincerity and humility:
After acknowledging that God must exist, see part 1, it must be assumed he wants to be found (a reasonable assumption we may address in another hub). Further, it must be accepted that finding him requires his help if not acquiesce, and therefore we are left with only one sensible option - we ask him for directions; i.e.: We Pray.
We ask for his help in getting to know him, in forming a relationship.
Relating to God
What, though, is meant in having a relationship with the Creator?
The only relationship reference I can draw from are those I experience as a human; with other people. What then do I seek in a relationship with other people? For myself I think the list might look something like this: Encouragement; Companionship; Understanding; Compassion; Acceptance; Patience; Affection; Support; Help.
However, when speaking of God, I think it safe to assume that a relationship won't be based on mutual need. Although wanting a relationship with me, he does not need such a relationship; after all my existence depends on him, not visa versa.
Note: Some will object to the concept of mankind needing God; no doubt the same that will reject there is a God. Of course, that must be the order of things. Accurately identifying our needs first requires correctly identifying our origin and purpose. It is also possible that we have needs we mightn't be aware of. Needs revealed and fulfilled only in relationship with God; needs fundamental to our (eternal) existence.
That said, what then might the Creator want from a relationship with you and I?
That is the Question
Finding God. The soul-quest of billions since the beginning of time.
The motives have varied and the means ranged from tragic to comical, but such fervent religiosity has accumulated vast tomes of advice on the subject of finding God, via almost every means imaginable.
Therefore, from the outset, seeking God sets one on a path strewn with questions and choices that will challenge character, morals and endurance; as well as our most treasured beliefs. Equally perilous, it can lead in the opposite direction to the accepted social or cultural norm.
Also, seeking God doesn't guarantee arriving at the same destination as others professing to do the same, and -the ultimate irony- many who started seeking God, ultimately find themselves stranded, at the end, in a place far removed from anything one might call godly.
It would seem, then, that there are risks associated with seeking this one we call God.
But are they greater than the risk of not seeking him?
Surely the two greatest motives for endeavour are
- The reward of attaining, and/or,
- The hazard of not...
Regarding reward, you cannot argue with the millions who have found great resources of peace and joy in their pursuit of God.
Regarding the hazard, they fall under several considerations:
- In failing to relate to God, will my life be impacted for the worse?
- What will happen to me after death?
The Closed Door
For the one accepting Gods existence, determined he is knowable and set out to develop a relationship with him, the challenges can seem insurmountable, even unfair; after all:
- If God wants relationship, why not make his presence more obvious?
- Why not make his invitation for relationship clearer; an unmistakable divine revelation perhaps?
- Why allow us to become so confused with options (ideologies, philosophies, religions etc)?
However, wishing doesn't make it so; much like the illogic of concluding that ‘bad things’ existing denote that a maker does not. If we accept that God is, then, being God, he does things his way, not ours. And do we really think we know better than the creator?
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
— The Bible - Deuteronomy 4:29
Therefore we are left to seek God on his terms, not ours, and this, no doubt, requires diligence, humility and sincerity.
But this very dilemma (Gods seeming distance) may hold one small key to a door leading in the right direction.
The Key Question
Opposites attract. A well-known fact. However, equally true is that opposites repel. The later truth adding layers to complexity when seeking to develop relationships.
For most people, there is both an attraction toward God and a repulsion from him. We might be attracted by his power and mystery, yet repelled by the idea of obeisance or submission to his will. Or, we might be attracted by the beauty of his creation but repelled in fear by the power of such a being. Any number of reasons may tempt us to flee seeking relationship with God.
Yet, have we stopped to think that the very same conundrum confronts God? That he is both attracted and repulsed by us.
"But why?" one might ask. And that is a very good question from which to start.
What is it about mankind that is repulsive? What is it about us that would keep God at a distance? Or maybe better put, us at a distance from God?
God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise; if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one! [The Bible - Psalm 53:2-3]
Seeing the Flaw
Have you ever been repulsed by the behaviour or attitude of another person, maybe even of yourself?
One does not have to live long to realise something is flawed in mankind, and this, to varying degrees, is generally accepted as part and parcel of the human experience.
However, have we stopped to consider God's view of us? Or our behaviour, at least?
Is he repulsed?
Is repulsed too strong a word? Alright. Offended then? Do we offend God?
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
— The Bible - Isaiah 59:1-2
Our capacity to hate & hurt, covet & envy, lust & steal, lie & cheat is accepted as part of being human, while equally recognized as the core of our many and varied relationship problems (whether between two individuals, groups or even countries).
Why then should it not be a problem when seeking a relationship with God?
Why wouldn't he be repulsed?
It's an odd concept, a creator offended by their creation; after all, why create something if you know it will offend you?
But maybe we over-simplify in thinking that way.
Could it be that God's plan in creating man incorporated a designed risk factor that allowed for things discordant to his will [even offensive], but provided for them nonetheless; an overarching plan, anticipatory and resolving of all contingencies.
If we cannot even comprehend how God managed to create us, maybe we should not be surprised that the complexities of WHY he should do so also escapes us.
Also, when we consider the multi-layered complexity of human beings, how much more inexplicable must be the inscrutable nature, thoughts and purposes of God?
However, whatever we accept as true about him, it must to some degree at least answer the question of why; why it seems he is so distant and hard to find.
Acknowledging Our Fault
By-and-large we all acknowledge that we have said and done wrong things; though many will stop short of calling them evil, wicked or sinful. Yet regardless of our concession, guilt is a universal experience.
And why do we feel guilt?
Although captives to this world with its rules and limits, we also know we are free. Free to daily make choices. Choices free of, if we so choose, God's influence. Choices we frequently regret; and some that utterly shame us; OUR choices. OUR fault. OUR guilt.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
'And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’. [Jesus said] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” [The Bible - Luke 18:13-14]
Confession, apology, repentance; hardly coveted virtues by most. Some people would sooner die than give an apology to those they've wronged, and the lies told to cover-up or play-down a sin weigh heavy upon many a conscience.
Humility is essential for any successful relationship, and no more so then when we know we are at fault.
How many relationships have been restored because the wrongdoer apologised; how many burnt because they didn't.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
— The Bible - James 4:8-10
- Christian Apologetics
Christian Apologetics: Watch Out for the Intellectual Trap
- Apologetics Press
Apologetics Press, Inc.
© 2010 Richard Parr
Michael-Milec on April 13, 2015:
@ parrster, - we all have memorable moments meeting very first time the King of kings an the Lord of lords, however the most fascinating to me was when the name was changed from Saul to Paul, wasn't?!
My memories of that war are unforgettable, from the beginning to the end some horrors experienced we decline to talk about - wounds of war are still painful.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on April 12, 2015:
@Micheal-Milec ~ What an incredible experience! Not many experience such a dramatic conversions.
You speak of WW2, were you very young during the war?
Michael-Milec on April 11, 2015:
@ parrster. Hm, a long story in short: when about ten I had enough information about second coming of Christ (There were certain signs in heavenlies during ww2), and one night I had this dream of coming Jesus as recorded in Matt. 24:30.31.- and as He was gathering 'His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, " I was not among them. At a moment I woke up crying, repenting my sins, pleading for forgiveness, and asking Him to accept me into the family of God , promising to follow Him obediently doing His will. Next morning Michael was changed forever, I started journey on the road to spiritual eternity carrying my cross and serving the Most High God along with experiencing all " good" and "bad" Jesus has promised to everyone on the path of righteousness . It is a worthwhile journey , The Lord is good and faithful to me , saving me and delivering all the time out of all trouble, keeping me in divine health and prosperity and in His Name the deeds of the kingdom are manifested as the Spirit leads me... As you can see , The Lord has blessed me with different vocabulary to use, a " new language" - not so much of man-made religious tradition.
Hope you get the idea where from am I coming, John 3: 8.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on April 11, 2015:
@Michael-Milec ~ You have definitely been around, and obviously have a gift for languages. Where and when did you come to have faith?
Michael-Milec on April 11, 2015:
@ parrster, - in the country which doesn't exist anymore, former Yugoslavia I was born to Slovak parents, the official language at that time was Serbo-Croation, then for several years under the Hungarian occupation we were forced to use another "official" language, next,in my young adult years I spent in Germany pursuing my degree , during that time working with additional 3 languages , namely passively, one of them still enjoying. Presently with my family, we are living in the Great-Lakes area of North American continent.
This beautiful and not so simple English language I'm trying to learn to the point that I would be able start "writing" as soon as come close to onehundredthosand words according to my dear friend byllybuc's suggestion .
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on April 09, 2015:
@Michael-Milec ~ Thank you for your feedback. I am interested to know where you are from. How many languages do you speak? My wife is bi-lingual (Czech and English) and though I have tried, I lack the particular patience required to learn another tongue.
Michael-Milec on April 09, 2015:
Awesome in all aspects: literally - one of the best English writing I ever red (English is my latest of none native), 'biblically' - straight from the heart of loving God and accessible to those who still estrange to the Creator as well to progressive followers of righteousness path. The impression throughout all hub is noticeable that we are dealing with the HOLY God, learning as we read what that holiness IS and a way our need to be partakers of it in order to live in a spiritual relationship of the family of God. The phraseology you are using is of immense value to my vocabulary- humbly , the same time proudly admitting to be known what a high quality needed information is printed by excellent Hub authors.
My sincerest thank you.
Voting up and awesome.
Peace with us.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on October 28, 2011:
@Stessily ~ As always, your sage comments and responses are appreciated.
My next published hub will be based on a craft project I've been doing with my son, but after that I may well start one on 'Gods desire to be found'.
Yes, I found the poll interesting. Obviously religiosity in-and-of itself does not equate to a countries level of “success”, however the US, a predominantly Christian nation, with a strong Christian heritage, is one of the most “successful” of modern nations (although I'm obviously biased)
But then again, success in the eyes of God may have less to do with the material things of this world than those treasures developed in the human heart when He is made sovereign.
Humility, for me has been a frequently imposed virtue; one which God has had to break down many a wall of pride and empty conceit to establish. As Augustine said, “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”
You are ever appreciated my friend.
stessily on October 20, 2011:
parrster: I appreciate your undaunted journey through questions which, indeed, are big. As Robert Frost so practically noted:
"The best way out is always through." (A Servant to Servants, 1915)
You do not look for ways out. You go through. And then you eloquently share your journey.
I am especially intrigued with your assumption that, in our search, God "wants to be found." You hinted at pursuing that assumption in another hub, and I am clamoring for that.
The Gallup Poll video was informative and succinct. This enigmatic country in which I live is characterized by "American exceptionalism" and "65% religiosity", when the average world religiosity is given at under 40%. They never polled me, but then I am not easy to find.
Which leads into your presentation about finding God, about realizing our needs in a relationship with God, and about discovering what gifts God might desire from seekers. And then there's the suggestion that God's plan "incorporated a designed risk factor that allowed for things discordant to his will (even offensive)."
C.S. Lewis commented that, for him, initially, one of the most difficult approaches to God was the emphasis on --- and possibly "demand for" --- praise, which he soon understood and accepted as an expression of enjoyment, "not to appreciate which is to have lost the greatest experience, and in the end to have lost all."(Reflections on the Psalms, p. 92)
True praise issues from a humble heart, which is not a downcast heart. It is a heart which has weathered the "great and strong wind" which "rent the mountains" and the ensuing "earthquake" and "fire" --- the things which shake our world and sizzle through our hearts and minds --- and has learned to hear the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-13) which was always there but we did not hear because we were otherwise attuned.
It is perfect, therefore, that you ended this hub by defining humility as essential in a relationship. Just as C.S. Lewis quibbled initially with the connotations and denotations of praise, I think many have problems with what is conveyed by the words "humble" and "humility". I know that I've passed through that gate and stalled there. For me, humility entails a sense of awe and of grandeur, not so much our smallness in things, but more so our participation in a grand design. I think of the effect of icebergs on Arctic voyagers as a good metaphor for my perspective on me in the universe. I am filled with awe.
As always, thank you for sharing your journey.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on August 19, 2010:
@UlrikeGrace ~ Thank you for reading and placing such regard on my humble musings. The reason I starting writing this was, as you said, as an apologetic. One that served both to clarify my own thoughts, challenge them and hopefully refine them, and in the process possibly help others do the same. As always, I appreciate your comments. God bless.
UlrikeGrace from Canada on August 18, 2010:
Parrster, I am amazed at this hub...I had to go back to part one and read it again to get back on track with you and togther these are becoming a very powerful apologetic. I have such a hard time putting my faith andéor my journey into a logical sequence argumant. You have done a great job! I am looking forward to the next part. This would make a great Bible Study...or discussion starter. Thanks for all your thought and work you have put into this and sharing so deeply of your heart. Blessings to you my brother.
Richard Parr (author) from Australia on August 09, 2010:
@lifegate ~ thanks for being first to comment. I didn't actually get to the point I wanted to make, regarding relationship; but I made a start and will hopefully expand on it in the next hub(s). It is a good exercise for anyone to write out their belief system, it raises knew questions while answering others. God bless
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 08, 2010:
Thanks for pointing to faith. It is so necessary in so many ways.