At this stage in my life I have concluded that deep, substantive relationships are hard to come by. This includes our relationship with God and with people. Real authentic relationships require transparency and a willingness to speak the truth into someone else’s life, particularly on hard issues. And we have to allow God to do this with us.
Tim Keller has some interesting words to say about this. He says God desires a real relationship with us and that he gives us certain non-negotiables that we must adjust our lives to. However, this is true in all relationships.
Think about a man who pursues a woman and falls in love with her. During their courtship he sees few if any flaws in her. She is the perfect woman. Even if she does have shortcomings, he is sure she will change once they get married.
However, once they are married, she contradicts him, she tells him things he doesn’t want to hear, she likes things a certain way (that he doesn’t) and there is conflict. They have fights.
In your own marriage and relationships, there are things you negotiate and agree upon. You work on your flaws and sinfulness. However, there are certain non-negotiables that you accept about the other person.
For instance, your spouse might like to go to the beach for vacations, you prefer going to the mountains. She likes to eat dinner early, you like to eat later. She wants you to wear certain types of clothes you don’t particularly like. You like Mexican food, she doesn’t.
Over time there are things you negotiate and agree upon. Hopefully you will realize there are certain things about your spouse that will not change. She has tendencies, tastes and desires that you do not like, but accept. In the end you cannot have a personal relationship with someone unless you adjust to them. If you always have to have your way, always seeking compliance from your spouse, you will never have a relationship that lasts.
I remember back in the 1970’s seeing the movie “The Stepford Wives.” I then saw the remake in 2004 with Nicole Kidman. It is the story of a couple who move to the quiet town of Stepford. It seems perfect, almost too perfect. The wives of Stepford are like robots, totally compliant to their husbands’ every wish. What you learn at the end of the movie (spoiler alert) is that the husbands have had a micro-chip implanted in the brains of their wives. The women become totally accommodating, as their husbands now completely have their way on all issues. There is no more conflict because the wives never contradict or cross the wills of their husbands.
The problem is that the personal relationship they had had with their wives was gone. You cannot have a relationship with a compliant robot or machine. To have a real relationship you have to have someone who will speak into your life and cross your will when necessary, even if it leads to conflict.
As we consider this, think about how pertinent this is to our relationship with God. There are many people who believe in God, who believe in Jesus, but do not necessarily buy into all that the scripture teaches. It may be theological or it may be a moral issue.
A great question we should all ask ourselves; does the God you believe in ever contradict you or cross your will? Does He ever tell you things you don’t want to hear? Does He ever point out your sin, your character flaws or any shortcomings?
If you do not have a God who speaks into your life, nor believe in the authority of scripture, you have a God who has a chip in his brain. He is under your control. If that is the case, your God is not real and He is not personal in your life.
I have many men that I meet with who do not understand why God is not real in their lives. For most of them He is nothing more than a concept in their minds, and not a living reality, which they would like. What they usually become aware of over time is that they must surrender their hearts to Christ and allow Him to be God in their lives. Until we do this, He will be a God that we control, a God with a chip in his brain.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership, and best-selling author of The Power of a Humble Life.