Under the-os influence

What does it mean to have “a relationship with God” through Jesus Christ? Is it even possible? Is it even necessary? Is it meaningful?
Personally, I think it is possible, necessary, and highly meaningful in the way I am about to describe in today’s blog . Once again, I will be asking the reader to think about the difference between having control and having influence where relationships are concerned. And now about the difference between fear and love in our relationships. Notice how fear has mostly to do with control. When afraid, we seek control. When loving, we seek influence.
Most of us have experienced both fear and love in relationship with others. We may have even noticed that fear often communicates in shouts while love speaks to us in whispers. What this has meant to me in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ is that I’ve been whispered to in ways that, paradoxical as it may seem, overpower the world’s voices of fear and control. Fearful control is sudden and intense but then fades away. Loving influence is slow and subtle but then lasts forever.
If this makes sense to you as a reader, then stay with me a bit further as I ask you to think of the difference between how some people related to Jesus Christ as we read of his story through the Christian Bible, and how others related to him. To be sure, Jesus had his enemies, but he also had his followers. Those who had privilege and power in this world tended to relate to him with fear. They sought to control him. Those living on the margins who had little power in this world instead related to Jesus with love. They sought to influence him.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Matthew 9: 21-28 tells the story of a Canaanite woman who came to Jesus saying, “My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” As if to test her, Jesus replies with, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” and later, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Perhaps you can imagine how this foreign “Canaanite” woman may have felt in that moment. Me? I might well have felt the kind of fear that spoke shouts of “then just forget you!!” to Jesus, then walked away as if to gain control over our relationship. However, this poor mother did just the opposite. She sought to influence Jesus by saying, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
To which Jesus replied, “Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted.”
I wonder if what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is having great faith in God’s ability to influence us rather than control us. How that faith then works for us and in a way that casts out our fears is that as we seek to influence God even in our times of testing, we receive his loving influence in the granting of our request. Our demons of fear are cast out by his perfect love.
I believe God has no control over our minds and bodies. He is not sovereign in that way. Rather, in his sovereignty, he has control over our souls, which then have loving influence over our minds and bodies even at those times when we feel most afraid and desiring of control. We are under God’s influence. Not his control, for God does not fear us. Rather God loves us enough to extend a relationship with us through Jesus Christ, rewarding our faithful influence, casting out our fearful control, and whispering his victory over the shouting world in which we live. This means we lose our control when we are under THEOS influence, lose our fear when under God’s love, and we hear God’s whispers far beyond the world’s own shouts.

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