It happens everywhere on college campuses, especially Christian college campuses. Two friends sitting and talking about their feelings late into the night. Eventually it seems like the only rational thing to do with all the emotion and confusion is to have a DTR. It’s time to have that conversation where they “Define the Relationship.” What are we? What are we going to be? Where do you think we should be?
DTRs are more funny than serious to most of us because college students often do more DTRs than homework, and some seem to need a DTR three to four times per date. But the idea and the intent behind it make sense. Desires for security and love drive DTRs. To guard each other’s hearts and care for one another well, there needs to be clear communication about where things stand in the relationship.
I’ve experienced the same need for clarity loving the little kids God has given us. Our children thrive when they know that daddy and mommy love them, that we will protect and provide for them, and that they are called to trust and obey us. We strive to remind them of those realities by consistently spending time investing in their little hearts. With regular communication and affection, the relationship is clear and they feel secure and loved.
That dynamic is only amplified in necessity and importance when it comes to our relationship with God. If we are not sure where we stand or what we are called to do in the relationship, then we can get off balance and become despairing, depressed, and afraid. Therefore, it’s good to go to God’s word and remind ourselves of all that God is for us — a regular DTR with the Divine — so that we have our feet planted on solid ground as we go throughout our days in a world where everything else can seem shaky and uncertain.
1. He is our Creator. We are his creatures.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
God is our Creator. We are his creatures. He is the potter. We are the clay. Therefore, we do well to remember that, as the Creator, God gets the final call on the purpose for our existence. We exist in his image, for his glory, and every moment of every day should be lived with our Creator’s purpose in mind. It is good to know that we are not God, and to be reminded that our fullest and longest lasting happiness will be found in his purpose for us, not the one we might choose for ourselves.
2. We are sinners. He is our Savior.
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:13–14)
The Trinity was at work to save us from our sins. God sent his Son. Jesus died and rose again. The Spirit caused us to be born again. Our lives now are lived waiting for the day when Jesus comes back in glory to bring us home. We wait with confidence and assurance knowing there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We can’t bring any good works to the table that will save us. God has done it all. Yet, we wait as a people who have been redeemed from lawlessness and purified for good works that bring glory to him.
It is good to know “It is finished.” We need not live to appease God; rather we live as those saved by Christ’s blood to please God and to display his glory.
3. He is our Father. We are his children.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:15–17)
By faith in the death and resurrection of Christ we become children of God. No one can snatch us out of our Father’s hand. The Spirit lives inside of us to remind us of our standing as children of God. If our earthly fathers know how to give good gifts, how much more will our heavenly Father give us good gifts? This Father will never leave us or forsake us. He’s never absent or disinterested. He will be faithful to discipline us for our good, to make us more like his Son. We have been adopted. We no longer have anything ultimately to fear because we belong to God.
4. He is our Shepherd. We are his sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Jesus is a Shepherd for us. He lays down his life for us. We know his voice and can trust that, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t need to fear any evil. He walks through the dark, scary places with us and promises to provide for us and protect us no matter what comes.
5. We are weak. He is strong.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The good news of the gospel is not that we are strong, but that God’s grace is sufficient and that his power shines through our weakness. It is freeing to remember that we are only jars of clay. We carry and endure weaknesses so that the surpassing power and glory clearly come from Christ, not from us. We will always suffer this side of heaven, carrying the death of Christ in our bodies, but as he keeps our faith alive by his strength it is evidence that his power is at work in us (2 Corinthians 4:7–18).
These are just five things that define the relationship we now have with God through faith in Jesus. We are created, redeemed, adopted, cared for, and helped. We get the eternal help and joy and God gets the eternal glory he deserves through Christ. Rest in your relationship with God today and be encouraged that God is near and your relationship is secure.