Internal vs. External
It’s human instinct to want to compare yourself to others. Knowing your grade often isn’t enough when you receive a test back. You want to know your friends’ grades. And the “smartest” kids’ grades. And the “dumb” kids’ grades. Everyones’ grades. And when you find out what everyone made, you then assess how you really did. Success, in these kinds of situations, is defined by how you compare to others rather than how you compare to your previous performances.
In the Christian world, people compare their relationships with God. A kid closes his eyes and puts his hands up in the air when a Christian song is playing and suddenly he becomes the “better” Christian. The people who pray aloud more often than others are commonly looked at in the same way. It would seem that external, rather than internal, expressions of relationships with God are more valued within the church. If you externally express your relationship, you and God must be really tight – regardless of what goes on internally.
To be blunt, that idea is very messed up. While it’s important to be a shining example of God’s love on the outside, God’s more concerned about what’s in your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” In the passage, God is reminding Samuel that He cares about what his followers do on the inside NOT the outside. Anyone can wave their hands in the air and close their eyes. It’s one thing to perform the action and it’s another to truly mean it with your whole heart.
A relationship with God means that you’re devoted and intimate with Him. He knows you and you know Him in a deep way. When you worship God on the outside, you do it with pure intentions. For a relationship with God to be true, your heart needs to match your actions. You can’t serve God on the outside and be apathetic on the inside, just like you can’t be apathetic on the outside while being fully committed to Him on the inside. To know God deeply and have a true relationship with Him means that you trust God to take who you are internally and mold you externally into who He wants you to be.
For a relationship with God to work, you need to spend time with Him. He can’t be a casual friend you hook up with on the weekends or someone you go to only when you’re looking for a relationship. God wants to spend time with you every day because He is fully committed to having a relationship with you. He loves you in ways you can’t imagine. Take ownership of your walk with Christ and really spend time with Him daily through prayer, quiet time, worship or whatever makes you feel most connected to Him. Don’t worry about what other Christians do. They don’t define your relationship with God. That’s between you and God. Sit down with Him, ask where He thinks your relationship stands and where He thinks it’s going. What do you think God has to say about your relationship with Him?