It took me days to figure out how to respond to your interesting article. But I’m afraid it expanded too much that I now feel awkward to paste it under your post as a reply. So I decided to write it in my blog and then connect it with your post through a pingback.
Let me try by quoting a few separate paragraphs from the same chapter of Philip Yancey’s REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD:
“Knowing an invisible God, we assume, has little in common with knowing a living, breathing person. Or does it? Actually, the more we understand how the mind works, the more it becomes clear that all knowledge—of God, people, or anything else—involves uncertainty and demands an act of faith.”
“So many times people have surprised and misled me. I have learned that one of my best friends had a secret life of sexual addiction, that another was abused by her father for fifteen years. I thought I knew these friends, only to discover I was missing vital information about them. All human relationships rest on a platform of uncertainty that preserves the mysterious quality of otherness. In knowing one another, we always fall short.”
“Knowing another person is a tricky matter involving much approximation and mystery.”
“…knowing ‘other minds,’ whether other person or God, always requires an act of faith.”
Having a relationship with God is ‘different’ and at the same time ‘similar’ with having relationship with other people.
The same in the sense that it involves uncertainty, mystery and faith. Just like ours: I have not seen you yet. And you’re not sure that I am a real single person. I have not yet audibly heard your voice, and you’re the same with me. But through faith, we communicate. Through faith I can hear your inner voice and have a hint of how you feel about Christianity and about life.
We become acquainted with each other by the contents of our articles and by the way we deliver our chosen words. We both need faith to maintain the positive healthy relationship. The same with God. We become acquainted with Him through his writings—the Bible. And we need faith to maintain a healthy relationship with Him.
Paradoxically, having relationship with God is also different from having a relationship with others. Simply because God is different from us. He’s God, we are humans. We cannot touch Him nor literally hear His voice. We cannot see His figure. Again, Philip put it succinctly. This last one is excerpted from the same book but from a different chapter.
“We are profoundly different, God and I, which explains why friendship is not the primary model used in the Bible to describe our relationship. Worship is.”
Thanks Laura for your exploration on this topic! It’s very interesting! And I agree with you, I think we need to start looking for a better and more appropriate term than the word “relationship” with God.
How about the word worship?
Because that’s the one thing that makes our relationship with God different from any other relationships. No matter how much we claim intimacy with God, we always worship Him. In strong contrast, that’s one thing we don’t do with other people who are so “intimate” with us—we don’t worship them.
We can be intimate with both God and humans, but it’s only God that we worship.……………………………………………………….. This post is a response to a friend’s article Problems with saying you have a “relationship with God”…maybe we need new terminology?