“It’s impossible to become the kind of person God intends us to be without walking in relationship with Him. And that means all the hallmarks of wise human relationships find their analogy in our covenant relationship with God.”
Let’s talk about sanctification for a minute.
Actually, let’s talk about marriage first. Hang in there, because this helpfully illustrates how sanctification works.
Marriage changes you. Look at a couple who has walked through decades together. They take on something of each other’s strengths. They instinctively compensate for each other’s weaknesses.
It’s not change that happens merely on the surface, a rearranging of habits or mannerisms; it’s a deeper, almost indefinable change. Married people really become different people.
Marriage is a transforming relationship.
But here’s the rub: it’s impossible to duplicate the result (deep personal change) without the cause (being joined in relationship to another person).
That’s not to say people don’t change unless they’re married – if you’re single and reading this, please don’t hear anything of that sort. The way the marriage relationship produces change is only a sign of a more profound mystery: that the deepest, most lasting changes happen in relationship.
Ultimately, what wedding vows and wedding rings point to is the transformation that occurs when men and women, married or single, are joined in a covenant relationship to the living, redeeming God.
Sanctification In A Relational Universe
Think about it. The universe is relational to its core. “In the beginning, God created” – not a solitary, lonely “god” who needed something from his creation, but the infinitely joyful and loving triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons.
Behind everything that exists is the mutual love and relationship shared by the Godhead. The cosmos is not cold, barren, sterile; it is more like a love poem than a math problem. All things, from black holes to blue jays, exist in relationship to God.
And into this relational world, God spoke one kind of being that would stand in a unique, intimate relationship with him: “Let us make man in our image.” After Genesis 3, the whole story of redemption in Jesus Christ is about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit acting together to recover that relationship with us, God’s rebellious image-bearers.
Now here’s the implication for the Christian life: true, biblical sanctification is always relational at its core.