Evangelicals are groomed to cultivate a relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit in a particular way. Unfortunately, this has led to the deeply engrained idea that missing a day of Bible reading equals not spending time with God. And it’s not only Bible reading, this mentality is applied to many of the pious disciplines of the church: prayer, fasting, small groups, quiet time, accountability, etc.
Essentially, a relationship with the triune God boils down to a disciplined equation with several components:
Read Bible + Pray + Attend church + Accountability – Sin = A relationship with God
What this mentality misses out on is tragic.
First of all, that’s not the gospel
There is no way around it. If these disciplines are the means by which a relationship is formed with God, you empty the cross of its power. You may say that our sins are forgiven by grace and still preach a false gospel that God won’t give us himself by grace. A relationship with a God so infinitely holy as ours cannot not possibly be fabricated or forged. It must be given. That’s the gospel.
Second of all, that’s not the Trinity
Insisting on building a relationship with God through patterned behavior denies the reality of the Son and the Spirit. Sure, systematically God may be acknowledged as triune, but the reality of the Trinity gives us a relationship with him despite a missed day (or year) of quiet time. Simply because the Son intercedes for us and the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
The Father, Son, and Spirit (ie, the family of God) know, love, and adore one another infinitely. The gospel actively unites individuals to the Son and fills them with the Spirit – so that, as Jesus prays, “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21). In other words, we are adopted, born, and married into this family to partake in the same relational intimacy enjoyed by the Father, Son, and Spirit.
You are simply in relationship with God because that is what the Father did for you through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. And it’s not just a new status. You are actually known, loved, and adored by God.
When you begin to take joy in the fact that God is with you, regardless of your ability to return the favor, you’ll experience the supreme blessing of being in relationship with a new, perfect Family — in which your behavior doesn’t qualify, or disqualify you from enjoying.
[disclaimer]: Reading the Bible, praying, fasting, etc are great and wonderful practices. And they do, in fact, take discipline. They are, however, a byproduct of loving God because he first loved you, not a means or an end.