Did God make us primarily for relationship?

Many seem to think that God’s primary purpose for us is relationship with him. What is called intimacy. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever.

But is this in the bible? It is very hard to stop those who hold to this doctrine to drop it because it is very precious to them and sounds so spiritual. But it is false.

Think about it this way (the operative word being THINK). Please don’t just regurgitate your pre-conceived ideas.

If we fulfill our chief purpose, then that should satisfy what God wants. By definition other things are of secondary importance. So someone who spends their life loving on God in worship soaking and intimacy would be doing the will of  God for them.

But in Gen 1:26 it says God made Adam to have dominion to subdue and replenish the earth to go forth and multiply. In short to work. God never mentions relationship here.

When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew it was not merely to hang out with him, but to be turned into fishers of men. In fact Jesus could have chosen to say follow me and I will make you a true worshiper of God, but He DID NOT.

Then, in John 21 when Jesus is restoring Peter, the question is do you love me? But the imperative isn’t then spend time with me. It is ‘feed my sheep’. Again the priority being work. In John 14:15 Jesus again says that if you love Him you will keep his commandments. Now if Jesus were referring to what He called the first and great commandment – love God with all your heart, then this would be a recursive and meaningless statement – if you love me you will love me.

He must have been saying if you love me you will do things I said, like take the gospel of the kingdom to people.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. We cannot be like Him and place most of our focus on intimate times with Him. The intimacy He enjoyed with His disciples was as He was doing the work of the Father. If His main priority were for us to be hanging out with Him, that would be selfish on God’s part. His main goal is to love a lost and dying world. Acts 10:38 to go around doing good healing all oppressed of the devil.

How can it be any different for us? How can we think that God wants us to live a different life from what Jesus demonstrated. Jesus would take nights out to pray so that His days could be spent in service.

In conclusion it is clear throughout the bible that God made mankind to do a job on this earth and that when God calls people it is to do a job. There isn’t, to my knowledge, a single person in the bible called by God other than for a task that needs doing.

So we were saved primarily to serve others. To do the will of God. To release captives and the oppressed. As we do the work, we have relationship.

Is pray or worship wrong? No. But if it’s your main focus then you’ve missed your main calling which is to go and DO the things you’re praying about.

A final analogy. If I buy a car it is for the purpose of it taking me places. That is its purpose. I can sit in it. I could sleep in it. I have to sit in it for it to achieve its purpose. Relationship is like sitting in the car. Necessary but not the purpose.


28 Responses to “Did God make us primarily for relationship?”

  1. Mark Ellis Says:

    Very good Jeremy I love this post. Well done.

  2. Matt Sims Says:

    I would have to slightly disagree. Intimacy comes before works. If we do works simply out of obedience we are slaves to God, this was the Law…

    John 5 portrays an intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father. In the relationship the Father shows Jesus everything He is doing and Jesus only does what He sees His Father doing.

    Think of it like this… If someone is sentenced to do community service by the court, that person hates the time they spend working in the community because it is a necessity. In affect, they are a slave.

    But if a free person in the community sees what a group is doing (Salvation Army, Humane Society etc…) and sees that what the group does is good… The person joins alongside the group to serve and they get joy out of doing what is considered punishment for a slave…. Sorry dunno if that makes any sense.

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      Thank you for your comment matt. I have to totally disagree. With you claim that you are slightly disagreeing with me.

      My whole point is that when God tells us why He made us or why He called us, it’s always about the job in hand, the task. He never specifies that the main priority is intimacy.

      So you are totally disagreeing with me, not slightly.

      I am well aware of the church tradition that teaches intimacy comes before work [note work not works]. I write this blog because the scripture simply does not support this teaching.

      You can find plently of examples of how God has intimate relationships with men. That is not the point.

      If you can find a single scripture that says intimacy comes before work, show me. However one will not sufice since there are dozens that support my teaching here.

      My goal in writing this is to make people think about what they have been taught and to re-read the bible with some blinkers removed. I fear what you ahve done Matt is just read my words in the light of you prior belief and seek to sorrect my error, without actually thinking about whether I may actually be right.

      I should point out that I was taught for 40 years what you’re saying. But when I started to listen to the Holy Spriit and study for myself, i found that many things I had been taught were traditions of the church with little biblical support.

  3. Matt Sims Says:

    I do not disagree with your teachings… Except for this post, I agree with everything you have ever posted on this blog. I throughly study the Bible for myself, my goal is that nothing I believe would be based off of a teaching I have heard… That being said, this is biblical.

    Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda and when the Jewish leaders question Him, He responds by telling them… I do nothing of my own accord but ONLY WHAT I SEE MY FATHER DOING. Because of Jesus’ intimate relationship with the Father, He did the works that He did….

    5:16 Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him. So he 31 told 32 them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.” 33 5:18 For this reason the Jewish leaders 34 were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God. 5:19 So Jesus answered them, 35 “I tell you the solemn truth, 36 the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, 37 but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father 38 does, the Son does likewise. 39 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed.

    I am not saying that you need some mystical intimacy with God to do kingdom work. A one day old Christian should be out healing the sick, raising the dead and prophesying.

    On the other side of the coin, someone can see miracles in their ministry, and not know God. Matthew 7:21-22 states that there will be people who did many miracles for God but are not of God BECAUSE THEY NEVER KNEW HIM.

    Now, if these do not clearly show intimacy before work, I suggest you re-read the book of John outside of your own religious mindset. The whole book describes the intimacy between Jesus and the Father.

    To sum it all up, you can definitely do work for God without intimacy, but if that is the case, you are not of God.

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      My point is that whenever God made someone (Adam) or called someone Peter etc it was for work – to do a job.

      Out of that call we have intimacy etc. It’s a given. But you cannot say that you fulfill God’s purpose for your life just by relationship.

      I hope I don’t have a religious mindset and I’m saying these things because God has changed my mind about it all.

      And i never said we work without intimacy. I said we’re called to do a job and intimacy comes as we get on with it.

      • jeremypenwarden Says:

        Mat you really need to look at Genesis again. God discusses with himself why he’s going to make man and relationship/intimacy doesn’t come into it. God makes man and tells Adam his job before the relationship begins.

      • Matt Sims Says:

        So we return to my first post in which I said I am only slightly disagreeing. Essentially we are saying the same thing. However I think you have minimized intimacy to the point of saying do work and intimacy will come with the work…

        While this is true to some level, you can not completely push a relationship with God out because some people have abused that teaching to mean sit at IHOP and never leave. Every teaching can be taken to far and abused.

        For example, Gods love is unconditional and He desires that none should go to Hell. Some people will take that to the point of universalism and say that all are saved… The idea behind what they teach is true, however it is just taken too far. Be careful that you do not completely give up on a truth from the Bible because some people have abused it.

        All that to say I think we agree on how the Christian life should be lived. The semantics behind it are ultimately of little importance.

        Much Love,
        Matt Sims

  4. Matt Sims Says:

    And you stated that there are dozens of scriptures that support your view that work comes before/without intimacy… That is false. There is not one.

    In fact you used a verse that supports intimacy before work….

    Gen 1:26 it says God made Adam to have dominion to subdue and replenish the earth to go forth and multiply. In short to work. God never mentions relationship here.

    In the garden man had an intimate, personal relationship with God and God gave him dominion over everything… When man sinned, we lost both our intimacy with God and dominion over creation. Now, the Cross has made it possible for both our intimate relationship with God to be restored as well as our dominion over creation.

    They our one in the same. Oneness with God = the fullness of Gods spirit in us = dominion over creation.

    So once again, I am not saying that our main goal should be to spend all day every day in a prayer room, but I do think that we should be spending alone time with God every day as we build our relationship with our creator and are transformed into His likeness.

    Again, this is modeled by Jesus. Read the first few chapters of Mark as Jesus frequently leaves the ministry to go be alone with the Father.

  5. paul yeong Says:

    Interesting-both sides sounds good to me but I will re-read the chapters but common sense should say that relationship with my own children supercedes the tasks i want them to do for me on earth when they grow up especially if i created them. its better they love me first, then only do what i want them to do voluntarily as an act of love to show me they love and respect me as their Father. God is love. so what is love? works first or relationship first? works first seem to be God is a taskmaster, relationship first seems more human more loving- choose you this day which is correct haha gbu all

    for now Matt Sim has my vote, hehe gbu all

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      I’m just going by what God says about why he made mankind and what God said each time he called someone. I think that’s really rather simple. He could have said relationship if he wanted – he didn’t!

      How about Jesus I came not to be served but to serve. Worship is us serving him, but his priority is to see others served. Again simple.

  6. Esteban Young Says:

    I agree and disagree with you here.

    God did make us for action, for going about the work he gave us to do. For obedience. But what motivates this obedience to God’s commands to work?

    Obedience can be motivated by either fear or love.

    Obedience that is driven by fear will not lead to love.

    Love (which leads to obedience) will drive away all fear.

    Obedience that is driven by love will lead deeper into love because it is already compelled and motivated by love in the first place.

    GOD IS LOVE. Our obedience to Him should not remove us from him, from his love.

    God is not a spirit of fear, nor did He give us a spirit of fear. I believe that His Love transforms us and then compels us, empowers us, and motivates us to go and do the work He gave for us to do. Fear of punishment should not be our motivation to Obey God.

    It must come from “YAY! I GETTA!” not “Bummer. I gotta…”

    There is no fear in love. God is love. There should be no fear factor in our obedience and active service to him.

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      I’m only saying what God says when he makes people or calls them. Find me one person who God says at the outset – your main purpose is tp be my friend. If you cannot, my case is proved. If you can find one and I can find dozens, my case is still proven.

      • Jonathan Yeong Says:

        No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15

      • Matt Sims Says:

        Jeremy I am still waiting for these dozens of verses that say God is more concerned about us doing work than building relationship.

        In fact John 15 states that we must remain in Christ, and remain in His love AND THEN we will produce fruit. For apart from Christ we can not bear any fruit. Obviously, a relationship/connectedness with Christ comes before bearing fruit (work).

        Again, if work is our primary purpose, explain Matthew 7:21-22 to me.

      • Matt Sims Says:

        In fact, I would even go as far to say that love and intimacy is the whole point of the gospel. The gifts of the spirit and the power to prophecy/heal/miracles etc… are all to show people Gods goodness and lead them into relationship with Him. Miracles are worthless if it does nothing to bring people into intimacy with God.

        How about the greatest commandment? Love God, Love People…. That is all that matters. Miracles are worthless if they are not done out of love.

        Love = intimacy, not work.

  7. Jonathan Yeong Says:

    Hi Jeremy.

    Ok – the point that you are trying to make is that we are created for the task set before us and that we are called to serve before relationship.

    BUT everyone also needs to be thoroughly equipped before they can carry out the task.

    Let’s say your my employer and I am your employee for ur hairdressing company. You gave me a task to do such as delivering hairdressing equipment however you still need to brief me and introduce me of how you and your company runs. Hence u see relationship coming in first.

    By this very analogy, God has called us to do Good works yes but before we can carry the tasks He sets before us, surely we would have to know what His Word says and the character of God otherwise how would we know what we are doing.

    So works flows out of intimacy.

    What do you think J?


    Jonathan Yeong

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      What I think is that I am talking about primary purpose, not how we are equipped for the purpose.

      And that Adam was fully equipped on day one. And that we have all of the Spirit on day one.

      We do NOT need to be ‘thoroughly’ equipped before we start. That would just be an excuse. We start with what we have and learn as we go.

      Had Peter followed Jesus, spent time with him but decided he didn’t really want to fish for men, then all the relationship wouldn’t have resulted in Peter doing the one thing Jesus said was the reason Peter was asked to follow.

      • Jonathan Yeong Says:

        Ok Jeremy you have a point there…

        But dont u think in any organisation there should be a basis for relationship to come first?

        A business is not held together by immediately getting the task done. A business is expanded and networks get strengthened through relationship.

        Even Jesus while on His ministry on earth build relationship with people and at the same time demonstrating the power of God.

        It seems clear to me from the Bible that many things flowed from relationship. Even the Apostle Paul before he went to suffer for the Gospel, had an encounter with the Lord Jesus in a vision.

        Eh…what do you think?

  8. jeremypenwarden Says:

    I am starting to get really fed up with these comments. What does God SAY? Great Commission. Peter’s restoration? Peter’s call.

    Peter – do you love me – feed my sheep.

    Mat 28 GO GO GO GO.

    NOT what do you think He forgot to add to what he says. Stop being so pig headed. Please.

  9. jeremypenwarden Says:

    You want me to explain Mat 7:21-22 – HE WHO DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER.

    I’m talking about DOING. This scripture 100% supports my case.

    • Matt Sims Says:

      You can not know the will of the Father if you do not know the Father.

      • jeremypenwarden Says:

        DO NOT TWIST MY WORDS Matt – I am getting seriously annoyed with you now.

        Stop your religious nonsense and listen to the truth for a change.

        I have NEVER said we are not to know God. I KEEP SAYING the PRIMARY reason we are called is to do WHAT God says WHEN He calls us – and that is stuff like Gen 1:26 or Luke 4:18-19 or be a fisher of men or feed my sheep.

  10. jeremypenwarden Says:

    You ask But dont u think in any organisation there should be a basis for relationship to come first?

    I say so what? We’re talking about what the bible SAYS, not your opinion or mine.

    • Jonathan Yeong Says:

      God is faithful, by whom YOU WERE CALLED INTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:9

      • jeremypenwarden Says:

        One verse 1 Cor 1:9. True – but how about ALL the other verses that I’ve shown which say what they say, not what others want them to say.

        Now, about Mat 7:22-23 – what is the will of the Father which Jesus says we’re to do – to love our neighbour. Not just miracles. Maybe cut the grass, cook a meal, go to the shops.

        But the main will of the Father is that we believe in the One He sent. And trust only in Him.

        The ones Jesus refers to here are mixing law and grace. Like much of the Prophetic church today. Doing lots of miracles but seeking to be justified by works of the law. Seeking a holiness by works. Seeking to reduce sin in the church by lifestyle. Adding this to the free gift of God. They have fallen from grace and Christ is of no value to them Gal 5:1-5.

        These are the ones doing works but not living by simple faith. It has nothing to do with the question of why does GOD say He called us.

  11. jeremypenwarden Says:

    People, a car is for going places. You have to sit in it to get there, but sitting in it isn’t the reason for it.

    Nowhere does God say He made us primarily for relationship.

    Jesus came to serve. If we are to be like Him, we have to BE LIKE HIM. That means our purpose is also to serve.

  12. Matt Sims Says:

    Jeremy, I never said we should not go. I’m just saying we are to be in constant relationship with one another. Yes we are to be like Him. We are to walk as Jesus walked. And Jesus walked in constant relationship/communication with the Father.

    We are not servants of God anymore…

    Now we are Children of God (relationship) and servants of men.

    The whole law is summed up in love God, love your neighbor. That was 100% of Jesus’ ministry. If he loves people, He must work to show them the Fathers love.

    Whatever our primary purpose is it doesnt matter. What matters is that love is needed to do kingdom work.

    If you fight back against the message of love because you see too many Christians not doing anything for God because they “love God.” They really dont love Him. That is not your problem. Anyone who really does love the Father will do what He does.

    Dont change the gospels message just because some people abuse it.

    The one who says “I have come to know God” 9 and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 2:5 But whoever obeys his 10 word, truly in this person 11 the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 2:6 The one who says he resides 12 in God 13 ought himself to walk 14 just as Jesus 15 walked.

    Residing in God comes before walking as Jesus.

  13. Brandon Says:

    I like how your last line is really what you’re trying to say, but you have all these comments arguing the other side.

    “Relationship is like sitting in the car. Necessary but not the purpose.”

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