The Relationship That God Intended
For much of my life, I did not understand what it meant to be in relationship with God. I thought that he would love me only if I followed all his commandments; the more perfectly I followed them the more he would love me. The problem was that I constantly lived in fear that I was not good enough in God’s eyes.
Over the years I have come to understand that God always loves me—even when I sin. I began to comprehend what the apostle Paul meant when he said that grace was given to us as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). There is no way God will ever love us any less than he does.
One of the most meaningful ways I have found that describes the love of God and our relationship with him is the covenant triangle.
The covenant triangle illustrates that God takes the first step in establishing a relationship with us by giving us grace. We were given an identity because we were created in his image (Genesis 1:27). Through the powerful and humble realization of our identity we are compelled to obey God’s commandments.
Notice the direction of the path in the triangle. Attempting to be in relationship with God through obedience is living by Law, and is ultimately discouraging and fruitless. On the other hand, appreciating the identity God has given us is living by grace and gives us freedom—freedom from fear, discouragement and failure.
The covenant triangle certainly has implications for evangelism. If we tell an unbeliever that he must obey the laws of God before accepting his grace, we disregard the order that God established. In other words, acting “right” is not a prerequisite for God’s acceptance. The apostle Paul said, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Once people accept God’s grace, their lives will be transformed into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, instead of trying to change people on the outside, let God work on their hearts. The outside actions will naturally follow.
Are you living by grace or by the law? Here are some questions to help you decide:
• Are you living in shame or are you basking in the love of Jesus?
• Do you believe that you have to earn your way to heaven or that Jesus has already paid for your sins?
• Is your identity found in who you are or whose you are?