God has always desired a relationship with His people. In fact, He created a beautiful Garden that contained everything mankind would ever need or want throughout their lives. But after Adam disobeyed God, he hid from the presence of God in the Garden. In spite of everything Adam had done, the beautiful sound of the familiar voice of the Lord rang out, “Adam where are you?” This same call toward God’s children has remained alive throughout history. God is seeking a relationship with us.
We have actually been called by God Himself into the same personal fellowship that God the Father has with Jesus. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). That calling is an invitation into a very personal and intimate relationship together. In fact, we have a divine summons into the same fellowship with the Father.
Many people shrink away from the thought of a fellowship with God that is like that between Jesus and the Father. But it is our own lack of self-confidence that brings this negative reaction. We have been convinced through religious condemnation that God tolerates us, but has little pleasure in us. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yet as a result of this wrong thinking, guilt becomes the primary motivation for any action we take.
We pray only because we feel guilty if we don’t. We go to church because we feel condemned if we miss. We give because we feel ashamed for not having done more. With an understanding of this, many so-called religious leaders have developed tremendous skill in creating guilt, condemnation, and shame in people as a form of psychological manipulation.
But God does not lead by guilt, condemnation, or shame. Instead, He leads by the influence and conviction of the Holy Spirit. There is a big difference between condemnation and conviction. The Lord moves through those who pray according to His Word. He guides those who live according to His commandment of love. He directs us to be givers who are sensitive to His leadership and direction in our giving.
God has sent His Spirit and His Word to lead us, not guilt, condemnation, or shame. The praying, the church attendance, and the giving must all be done, but we must approach each of these areas with the right motivation or they will be fruitless and ineffective religious acts that bear no fruit. They should grow out of a love toward God and toward the people He loves.
When we get a real understanding of how God sees us, the better understanding we will have of the fellowship to which we have been summoned. We will enjoy a rich, fulfilling, and rewarding relationship with our Creator — and the benefits of a fruitful life.