Fellowship with God
By Peter Amsterdam
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“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”—2 Corinthians 3:181
While Christlikeness is manifested in the decisions we make and our outward actions, it stems from who we are internally. Christlikeness develops within us as we are continually transformed into His image.
The key to such transformation is the gift of salvation, which we have received through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is through His sacrifice that we have the power to become new people, new creations in Him.2 Due to the fall of humanity through Adam and Eve’s sin, there was a rupture in the original fellowship that God had with humankind. God, however, made a way for that fellowship to be renewed, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
God, through the sacrifice of His Son, made it possible for human beings to be reconciled with Him. Reconciling is defined as the ending of conflict, or the renewing of a friendly relationship between those who have been disputing. In Paul’s epistles, he speaks of reconciliation, of our being brought back into the family of God. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”3
The cost of reestablishing that fellowship was huge: the suffering and death of His own Son, who took the punishment for all the sins of humanity upon Himself. When we think of the price God was willing to pay to bring us back into fellowship with Him, we should respond with awe that the Creator of everything wants to fellowship with us and was willing to go to great lengths to make it possible. We have the blessing, honor, and privilege of having a personal relationship with God, and we are called to cultivate it.
Jesus set the example of taking time for His relationship with His Father: “Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”4 Even amidst the busyness of ministering to crowds, He made time to fellowship with God, listen to God, and receive instruction. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”5
True fellowship with God begins with being God-centered, recognizing that our most important relationship is with Him. Considering all that God has done for us, bringing us into His family and making it possible for us to be in relationship with Him, we should delight in making our fellowship with Him a priority in our daily life. Our fellowship with Him entails spending time in His presence, communicating with Him, worshipping Him; having two-way communication with Him by speaking to Him in prayer, reading His Word and listening to what He has to say to us through it, and listening to His voice as He speaks to us personally.
It is vital to give priority to our fellowship with Him, as otherwise we can’t be healthy Christians who are growing and maturing spiritually. Just as we can’t be physically healthy without eating each day, or can’t stay clean without regular bathing, neither can we stay spiritually healthy or clean without being in regular fellowship with our Creator. It’s just not possible.
He laid down His life for us, making it possible to live with Him forever, so giving some part of each day back to Him in love and gratitude is the least we can do. Carving out time in our day to spend with God, no matter how difficult that may be, should be a permanent commitment if we want to live in communion and fellowship with the Lord.
Rather than looking at our time with the Lord as a chore or something we have to do, we should see it for what it really is—a wonderful privilege. We are granted access to God, our Father in heaven; to Jesus, who laid down His life for us; and to the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. It’s time to connect with our Creator and Savior who sustains our life, who loves us, and has established a personal relationship with us.
We take time daily with God because we love Him, because He deserves our praise, thankfulness, and devotion. Of course, there are benefits for us. When we take time in fellowship with the Lord, He responds. When we stop other activity and enter into His presence, we put ourselves in a position to listen to Him and receive His direction. He is able to guide us with His counsel, to teach us to do His will.6
Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”7 Through living the truth of the Bible, we are sanctified, or made holy. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”8
As we spend time with the Lord in His Word, we are challenged to grow and change. His Word teaches us, points out our faults and sins, corrects us, changes us, and causes us to grow in right living. As we grow in our faith, we stop doing things that are in conflict with what His Word teaches; as we put off our old self and our sins, we become more godly, more like Jesus.
Prayer, reading and absorbing God’s Word, praising and worshipping Him, talking with Him about our life—our hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures, confessing our sins, asking for His help, telling Him we love Him, listening to what He tells us—are all part of that fellowship, friendship, companionship, and partnership we are meant to have with Him.
It’s within this fellowship that we develop our relationship with Him, nurture our love and intimacy, and truly get to know Him. The more we get to know Him, the more we will desire to be with Him. The book of Psalms expresses this desire for fellowship with the Lord.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”9
One way that Scripture expresses the bond we are to have with the Lord is a love relationship, a marriage. Rick Warren expressed it this way:
To get to know someone intimately and enjoy him personally, you must: Spend quality time with him; communicate meaningfully with him; observe him in a variety of situations. These same criteria apply in getting to know and enjoy God, too. Remember that it is hard to have a love affair in a crowd; you need to get alone with the one person. That is the way the Bible speaks of our relationship with God through Christ, as a love relationship. In fact, it is called a marriage; Christ is the Bridegroom and we in the church are his bride.10
Our relationship with God is our primary relationship, and to keep it alive and flourishing we need to spend time with Him. With our busy days, this can be a challenge. It requires a commitment to carving out a specific time to spend with Him daily, and using that time for connecting with Him heart to heart.
It’s appropriate to begin time with our Creator by taking a few moments to be still, to acknowledge that we are entering into His presence, and to praise Him. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”11 It’s good to pray a short prayer committing the time to Him, asking Him to guide your time together, to take away any distractions or blockage you may have, and to open your eyes so you can take in the wonders of His teaching.12
The primary means of listening to God is through reading His Word, the Bible. He speaks to us through Scripture as we read it, think about what it says, meditate on it, and ask ourselves what it means to us and how we can apply that meaning to our daily living. He also speaks to our hearts when we quiet ourselves and listen to His still small voice. We should also take time to thank and praise Him for what He’s done for us—for saving us, providing and caring for us, and answering our prayers.
Your time of reading His Word is a time to connect with Him, to contemplate, to prayerfully meditate on what you’ve read, allowing the Holy Spirit to show you ways to apply it in your life. Of course, applying Scripture often calls for us to make changes in our lives, as the Holy Spirit challenges the way we think or act. As you reflect on what God’s Word says, it helps to ask yourself questions: What does this passage teach me? How can I apply it? Is it showing me an area in which I’m sinning? If so, what am I going to do about it? Does what I’m reading bring to mind things or people I should be praying for?
As we study His teachings and allow His Word to speak to us, convict us, challenge us, and change us, we are transformed more and more into His image and likeness. It’s in speaking to Him; sharing our hearts, burdens, worries, and fears; as well as our hopes, joys, and dreams that our relationship with Him grows. Interacting with the Lord, loving Him, spending time listening to Him, learning from Him, applying His Word, being in regular fellowship with Him, are all part of becoming like Him.
Originally published April 2016. Adapted and republished April 2021.
Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
2 2 Corinthians 5:17.
3 Romans 5:10–11. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4 Mark 1:35.
5 John 5:30.
6 Psalm 73:24; 143:10.
7 John 17:17.
8 1 Peter 1:15–16 NIV.
9 Psalm 42:1–2: 63:1; 73:25.
10 Rick Warren, Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods, 237.
11 Psalm 100:4.
12 Psalm 119:18 NLT.