I saw a great quote the other day: “God is relational; He’s not transactional.” The word “transaction” connotes some sort of business deal. People deal in transactions all the time, so sometimes we start seeing things and people transactionally. A transactional relationship is supposed to be equal, but it’s not focused on the other person. It’s primarily about getting what you want or need.
So our relationship with God can lean toward transactional, because we are needing so many things: money, life, health, protection, peace, happiness, love, freedom. We can slip into bargaining with God before we even know what we are doing.
“I’ll go to church and live the right way if You will just send me a husband/wife/child/fill in the blank.”
“If You will just free me from this addiction, I will tell everyone about You.”
“I need money, God, so I’m praying and fasting so You will give it to me.”
“God this pain is so bad. If You will just free me from this pain, I will live for You.”
We do it in a lot of less obvious ways, but we are looking at God as our ticket – our ticket out of pain, out of debt, into happiness, into security, into heaven, whatever.
But God doesn’t want the transaction. He wants the relationship. He doesn’t want us to bargain with Him to get out of pain; he wants to walk with us through the pain. He wants to share it with us. He doesn’t want us to bargain for more money. He wants us to live in peace, walking with Him in trust that He will take care of us. He wants to teach us how to rise above the hard things, to disciple us, to show us how to live in it. He wants us to be with Him so we can be like Him.
I’m not saying I’ve got this down or I’m doing this right now. I just recognize the truth of it and I’m trying to make it my paradigm.
Paul had achieved this. In Philippians 3:10 he talks about his desire to be in a real relationship with Jesus. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” God is wanting to share in our sufferings in the same way. So we alter our perspective on how we interact with God and learn to share our lives with Him.