Rejecting An If/Then Relationship With God

Some years ago, I read that ancient Jewish rabbis believed the reason God did not give the Ten Commandments to the Hebrew people before he parted the Red Sea and rescued them from the Egyptian army was because God didn't want their keeping them to be conditional.  

The ancient rabbis surmised that if God had given the Commandments then saved the children of Israel, they would have kept the laws out of duty, rather than love.  

In other words, God wanted the Hebrew people to keep the Commandments because they remembered all that God had done for them over the years.  God wanted them to keep the Commandments because they trusted and loved God, and knew that God had their best interests at heart, not because they felt they had to.  

I think far too many of us live our lives praying that God will "show up" and reveal Godself to us in miraculous ways, in dramatic rescue, and inspirational moments.  And we often will say things like, "God if you do this...then I'll dedicate my life to you." or "God if you fix this problem, then I'll get myself together."  

When we turn our relationship with God into a series of transactions and bargains, our prayers take on a desperate "What have you done for me lately?" kind of tone. 

Unwittingly, we also begin to obsess over finding inspirational moments where we believe we're feeling God's presence in order to cement our obedience and perpetuate our "If/Then" relationship with God. 

In the end, we want to reduce God to our level---the kind of god who thinks like us, acts like us, and who is demanding, capricious and fickle like us. But God defies our definitions and refuses to be reduced.  

But the inspirational moments, the miraculous sightings, the incredible moments of rescue do happen, and most often when we are ready to see them clearly for what they are and not for what we would make of them.    

Oswald Chambers once wrote, "God will give us touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them."  

May you find the strength to base your relationship with God on your love and gratitude for God what God has done for you--most dramatically through God's Son, Jesus Christ.  May you reject a transactional, if/then relationship with God---initiated through bargains and cemented in dry, loveless duty.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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