Scripture is largely a book about relationships. It provides us with information about relationships within the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), relationship between God and man, between male and female, husband and wife, parent and child, human beings and animals and natural resources, etc. Scripture reveals that certain ways of approaching relationships are right and some are wrong. Proper relationships tend to produce positive results while improper relationships produce negative results.
Of great importance is our understanding of and approach toward the relationship human beings have with God. I often ask students, “Does everyone have a relationship with God?” This generally produces a division in the class as some (probably most) say, “no” while some say, “yes.” Most of the time, neither answer captures the right intention behind the question. Those who say, “Yes” generally assume that since God loves everyone He accepts them just as they are. Those who say, “No” seem to mean that God only has a relationship with those who are saved. The point I aim to make by asking this question pertains to the distinction between a right relationship and a wrong relationship. Both right and wrong relationships are relationships. In this sense, all people have a relationship with God. Those who are living in sin, those whose hearts are committed to supreme self-interest have a wrong relationship with Him. Those who have exercised repentance and have experienced conversion, have a right relationship with Him.
A right relationship does not indicate that there is no need for growth and change, that an individual is completely conformed to the image of Christ in every external manifestation. It does indicate that they have the right purpose and resolve to honor, cooperate with and obey Him in the process of becoming conformed to the image of Christ. A right heart, purpose or motive is a firm resolve, a clear and definite commitment. A right relationship with God is not simply based on using Him to get to heaven. A right relationship with God is based on an acknowledgement of His goodness, wisdom, holiness and supremacy. It is based on a humble surrender to Him as a Creator and Designer who operates by love. As a consequence, we subject all aspects of our character and behavior to Him with a willingness to make any adjustments necessary to honor and please Him in an attitude of love and trust.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that even the most aggressive atheist has a relationship with God – a wrong relationship that is known as sin. In order to have and maintain a right relationship, one must genuinely surrender to the supremacy of God with the ultimate motive to please Him and honor His design for right relationships and right living.