When you have a relationship with a person, do you say you know about that person, or do you say you know that person? Of course you say you know that person. My guess is that we all would say we know about Oprah Winfrey, but I doubt any of us would say we have a relationship with Oprah Winfrey simply because we don’t actually know her. To know someone, we have to interact with him or her. Therefore, if we really want to know God, we have to interact with Him. Otherwise, all we will be able to say is that we know about Him.
So interactions typically imply a relationship, but all relationships are not equal. The depth of a relationship does not necessarily depend on how long we’ve known a person. I believe it depends more on the impact relationship has on our life, and the extent to which we rely on this relationship on a regular basis. Therefore, to have a deep and meaningful relationship with God, we need to build a relationship where our interactions with Him are relevant and frequent.
Let’s draw on what we know about relationships with other human beings. Think about someone whom you regularly rely on and who has tremendous impact on your life. Maybe it’s your spouse, a sibling, a parent, or a friend. Now, think about what your relationship with this person look likes. You probably create opportunities to be with this person, frequently communicate with this person, seek this person's advice, really listen to him or her, and are influenced by what this person says.
That’s not an exhaustive list, but I think it helps to paint a picture of what a deep and meaningful relationship with another human being looks like. Now, let's run through the list of characteristics one more time, but this time, rather than thinking about one of your relationships with another human being, think about your relationship with God. Do you create opportunities to be with God, frequently communicate with Him, seek His advice, really listen to Him, and allow yourself to be influenced by what He says? Let me take this one step further. Do you have this kind of relationship with God every day?
You don't need a theology degree to develop your relationship with God (or to help others develop their relationship with Him). All you have to do is look at what makes human relationships successful and apply these ideas to building your relationship with God. Simple!
photo credit: Idea Go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net