Having a “DTR” with God

Based on the sermon by Eric Knopf from Epic Life “Changing your relationship Status.” 

Today, many Christians have such complicated relationships with God that they need a refresher course on the Biblical DTR.  In romantic relationships on earth, the “define the Relationship” talk (aka the DTR), is notoriously everyone’s  least favorite part. The casual flirtation hangout period has expired, but the assurance of commitment and validation of reciprocation remains undetermined. In some cases, the unknown factor alone leads couples to arrive at the occasion with clenched teeth—bracing for rejection or preparing to apologize. To be fair, the event has the potential to end up quite joyous. However, the DTR becomes stressful the moment someone’s  heart begin to hope in something ambiguous. Sadly, many Christians believe a lie that their relationship with God is ambiguous too.

Part II:  Q and A

Q 1: I feel completely in love with Jesus. How can I tell if the relationship is complicated?

A: One of the hallmark signs of relational complexity is harboring insecurities of how God feels about you. That’s not the only red flag though.  Perhaps you “feel distant” and crave constant reassurance of God’s whereabouts—even though He lives with you. Or you feel awkward in prayer, and avoid full disclosure by shying away from presenting the honest requests of your heart. Or possibly, you strive,  in hopes that maybe— if you could just do something radical enough—God might like you more. Sighing over coffee with mentors, you assume God works in such mysterious ways that he plays “hard to get” by not returning your calls. Surrendered but confused, you render yourself stuck in a relationship limbo somewhere between the “basic salvation plan” and the “salvation-premium” plan.

Note: If this distorted picture describes your relationship with God  in any way, then it’s time to take your relationship to the next level and have the DTR to end all DTRs.

The Divine DTR: Receive reality, God  blows up your phone with encouraging, loving and empowering messages all the time. Unfortunately, his messages look illegible when read through a splintered screen cracked with lies about His character. We worship a God of order, not confusion. However, failing to grasp the Truth of God’s character, clouds the lens through which we view our relationship Him. See, God already clearly defines your relationship throughout scripture. He calls you His beloved children; He calls you the bride of Christ. Also, oft forgotten to mention in church, the God of the universe calls you friend.  John 15:15 says “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I call you friends.”

Q 2:  How can I take my relationship with God from Slave to Friend?

A: Three words, CHOICE, FREEDOM, and PARTICIPATION.

Love cannot exist without the simultaneous presence of freedom, and yet, we seem to accept this concept far more readily in human relationships, than we do our relationship with God. Imagine a DTR, where after a heartfelt proclamation of your feelings, the other person responds by saying, “Fine. I guess we can be together if that’s what you want.” Most likely, their passive-aggressive tone registers as a hurtful hint, not as a welcoming invitation of your presence. Along the same lines, if your actions and thoughts constantly send signals to God of “needing space,” He won’t force a devotional date time. He will lovingly honor your freedom and choice.  

Another way we can deepen our intimacy with God is through participation with Him. Demanding a friend to show up and do something for you, doesn’t typically increase your intimacy, but spending quality time together does. Many years ago, I found myself in a surprise DTR with someone whom I had zero previously established friendship or trust.  “Maybe we could get to know each other first?” I suggested. “Well, I’ve been trying,” the guy said in defense. “I studied your Facebook page to get to know your interests and hobbies better.” Despite his newfound knowledge of my hobbies, the effort missed my heart.

The Whole Hearted Conclusion

While it’s easy to poke fun at ridiculous DTR stories of old, sometimes we interact with God in the exact same way. We seek him in academic study, but not in joyous quality time. Or, we have ulterior motives and hope that God will give us what we want if we adhere to the correct Biblical death to self-protocol. Galatians warns, however, NOT to use our freedom to indulge the flesh, but rather to serve one another in love. God is a giver who loves to give us the desires of our hearts. And, he invites us first, to participate in delighting ourselves in Him. After all, what God desires most, is your whole heart.

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