Lately, I have had the sense God is beckoning me. There’s something He wants. To be frank (and simultaneously humbled), I believe He has a deep longing for relationship with me.
Even as I type the word “relationship”, it doesn’t express my meaning adequately. I’m sure I don’t know what words to use to make my meaning clear. When I speak of relationship with God, I’m not just talking about things like regular Bible study and prayer, though deep relationship involves those things.
I could compare God’s longing to something many people are familiar with – the idea of unmarried females strongly desiring to become married. Even the most love-starved woman has never yearned for the love of a man the way God longs for relationship with mankind. It seems unthinkable that Almighty God would regard man that way. Even in the Old Testament, men marveled, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” But the story of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the Bible illustrates the lengths to which God was willing to go to access the possibility of relationship with man.
And today, here I am with a growing awareness that in this hour of my life, He beckons me. He beckons me now like never before, and it is striking that He beckons me in gentleness and patience that are difficult to understand.
I stumbled across an old article written for men (college men, specifically), and I particularly enjoyed the section excerpted below. I understand that the part about becoming a theological man speaks to the way Christian males can utilize the Bible to learn how to approach relationships with fellow humans. But the author’s message also encouraged me by pointing out a radiant benefit of the Bible – one I don’t want to lose sight of: the scriptures should be seen and approached as a means to deepen relationship between Him and me.
Rise Up, O Men of God! What it means to be a man who follows Jesus
by Dave Collins
Christian men wrestle with very basic relational questions. Some of these questions live in our souls at the most existential level.
“Rise up, O men of God, have done with lesser things!” was a rousing hymn of commitment for men of a previous era. Today most Christian men I meet on campus don’t know this hymn; more importantly, they have a difficult time knowing what it means to be “men of God”—let alone what “rise up” might imply for their lives as students. Perhaps this is most evident as I watch IVCF men muddle through their relationships with parents, friends and romantic interests.
Our university world provides little or no social guidance (other than “be nice to people” kinds of statements), so Christian men wrestle with very basic relational questions. Some of these questions live in our souls at the most existential level (What does it mean to be a man and follow Jesus?) while some reside at a more practical level (What can I expect from my friends this weekend?). Add to these the ever present (and adrenaline charged!) romance questions (“Does she like me?” or “Should I ask her out?”) and most guys begin to get lost in a fog of emotions and spiritual concerns.
Without presuming to offer a complete road map, I want to offer a few suggestions to help you feel your way through the fog:
1. Become a theological man.
First things first: if we want to deal with the existential question, “What does it mean to be a man of God?” we must become men who pursue a deeper knowledge of God. Many men think of “theology” as merely an overly intellectual pastime for the socially deficient. For followers of Jesus, however, theology is a simple word to describe the application of heart and mind to the Scriptures in pursuit of God. We pursue the study of God to know him better, not just knowledge in the sense of facts (though facts about God are necessary to truly know him), but knowledge in the sense of deeply knowing our Creator. Knowing God leads to changed hearts and minds as we conform to his wishes, desires and commands. As a result, we experience his blessing and guidance in our relational needs.
If we are concerned about relationships in general, why not apply ourselves to the task of learning from the God who created relationships at the beginning? God presents himself in the Scriptures as the relational God who created men and women to be in relationship with him and each other. His paradigm for our relationships is demonstrated in the interrelationship of the persons of the Trinity (see John 13–17). The theological man mines the Scriptures for the gold of God’s relational wisdom. He also reads thought-provoking books for the wisdom that others have discovered.
I hope that the idea of “mining the Scriptures” is not new for you. However, I have been somewhat surprised in the past year with the lack of focus or direction many male InterVarsity students have expressed in their basic devotional life with their Creator. Quiet times are typically the “stick your index finger in the Bible and read what you find” sort, rather than a time of prayerfully considered study through a book or passages around an area where growth is needed. Serious scripture reading is seen only as something for the nerd who doesn’t have a better plan for his spare time rather than a vital activity for Christian growth.
If you want to grow in your wisdom about relationships, plan a month of quiet times that look at passages that deal with relationships. (For example: John 12–17, Ephesians 4–6; Galatians 5). Take some time each week to read from a theological work like Knowing God by J. I. Packer or The Cross of Christ by John Stott. When you begin to understand God’s love expressed through your adoption as his sons through the work of Christ on your behalf, you will begin to understand what it means to love others and how it is that you will need to live in relationships with those around you. If you are serious about desiring God’s best for your relationships, then train yourself to desire intimate knowledge of God. What are his ways, his workings, his deeds done in history, his plans for your future in glory?