I grew up in the church, and did all the church things you do when church is your natural habitat. Church school through 8th grade. Attended and later worked at Christian summer camps. Countless VBS’s, sermons, prayer meetings, and discipleship classes.
I don’t share that to brag. I learned lots of ideas about God and scriptures about God, and all the assumptions our community took as facts about God. I learned what behaviors were affirmed in our community and what behaviors were looked down on. I learned that I could get a great deal of affirmation by doing certain things the right way, but I never really gained any sense of an ongoing, vital relationship with God.
I heard that phrase repeatedly. “Relationship with God.” We talked about having one. We talked about how we could do damage to our relationship with God. We were asked the big question, by pastors and leaders: “So, how is your relationship with God going these days?”
But I knew, my friends knew. That question was code.