What does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus?
I received a call from someone this last week and the person asked me,
“If I do everything in the Bible, will people like me more? Will things get better?”
I said something along the lines of:
“That’s a great question but I think you’re missing the point. You can’t be more perfect than Jesus and people still hated him to the point of death. The problem isn’t just modifying behavior, the problem is a broken heart. The commands in the Bible are never meant to be an end in itself, but a means to an end that points you to a relationship with Christ.”
But what is a relationship with Jesus? How can you have a close relationship with someone you have never seen? Is it like having an imaginary friend? We always talk about having a relationship with God all the time, but do we even know what that looks like?
Where to begin.
I would start at repentance and surrender. The first step to fixing a problem is realizing that there is one. The second step is understanding that only putting your faith and hope in Jesus can fix that; surrendering the throne of your life to Him and allowing his grace to work in your life and begin the mending and healing process of old and new wounds.
Is it like having an Imaginary friend?
The fact that God is not sitting next to you in physical form doesn’t mean that He is some imaginary friend. Jesus was a real man who physically walked this earth. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and equal to God. He claimed that he could forgive sin, He performed miracles, and He died on a cross so that he could send us a helper who is equal with Him yet can do something that God couldn’t in the flesh which is to be with every believer always at the same time. Jesus died on the cross for our sins as the ultimate gift of love to us, then was resurrected as a symbol of a perfect sacrifice acceptable to God for our sins. Jesus said that He will return again and He has put us in charge of inviting people to join us through faith in Him and what He has done.
God is with you through the Holy Spirit and although you cannot see Him, you can see the work that He does in and through other people and your life.
God has given us His word to remind us of how much He loves us, to encourage us, and to instruct us in how we ought to live. Something that we don’t talk about much is how the more you read his word, the more you develop a growing affection for who He is. The more time you spend reading it, you will learn about His heart and desire. The more you know, the more you will grow in affection for Him and find truths and develop feelings you didn’t have before. I think we can all agree that there is much more to building a deep relationship someone than seeing them physically. In fact, we know this because in our culture we often don’t accept people into our inner circle until we really get to know them and get to know some deep things about them that others don’t know regardless of how much we see them. Jesus was either the Son of God or a psychopath for claiming the things he claimed. You can take a step out in faith based on the overwhelming evidence that he really was the Son of God or not, but in no way is he a myth or imaginary. He is still alive and active today.
Can I know God personally?
So I have been married for a little more than a year and from the day we started going out, to the day we got married, and to where we are now, our relationship has grown and is constantly growing deeper and deeper in its intimacy; and I don’t mean that in the sense that we can finally be physically intimate but in the sense that I see deeper into my wife’s heart and soul.
True intimacy is ultimate transparency and love. Intimacy is the ability to fully know someone while being fully known by them, yet unconditionally loving one another all at the same time.
A lot of the time we tend to lock things up and not be intimate because we get scared that if people saw the real us they wouldn’t accept us. We know what people like so we try to mold ourselves into something we aren’t so that people will love us. It’s hard to trust someone completely, there is always something that we keep buried deep down that we refuse to let go of because we’re scared to get hurt. We are all broken and we all have this room deep, deep down in the back right hand corner of our heart covered with caution tape and a series of complicated locks. As you walk into this dusty room there’s pictures on the walls of all the memories we hold dear to us. There are writings on the walls with all of our hopes and dreams, and all of our aspirations and accomplishments. But there are also pictures of awful memories that scarred your life, there are skeletons that you covered up and put in the closet, there are also writings on the walls of all your failures and short coming and lies that you have fooled yourself into believing. There is a list of people that you are bitter towards and can’t get yourself to forgive, or events that you keep holding onto and refuse to let go because they have emotionally or physically damaged you. There is a black box with a lock on it and inside are all your darkest secrets; consistent lying to your parents, stealing from a friend, a stack of dirty magazines, drugs you’ve done or are doing, an eating disorder you’ve had or dealing with, an affair you are having or had, immoral (sexual) things you have done, a sinful acts that have been done against you, or even murder.
Everyone has a room like that in their heart.
The crazy thing is that God already knows about that room even if no one else does. He created you and therefore fully knows you. And guess what… He fully loves you. Secrets and all.
God sees you and all that you hold dear to your heart and he doesn’t want to come in and turn you into some kind of freak, but come in and meet you where you are in life and clean out that room, wipe the dust off, open up a window, take red paint and write “loved”, “forgiven”, “worthy” and “redeemed” on all the ugly things that you are embarrassed of or afraid people will find out about. Even though God knows what’s inside your heart He isn’t going to bust the door open and start remodeling, He wants you to open the door and invite Him in. Trust Him with your insecurities and mistakes, learn to let them go and give them over to the only one that can really fix them.
If you are truly desiring to know God personally and seek a relationship with him I will give you a few things that have worked for me.
- Read God’s word (Bible) -Every time you open your Bible, let that time be a time where you are vulnerable and open to what God has to say to you that day. Let your only agenda be to know God in a deeper sense and that, that knowledge would stir an affection in your heart for Him. It is His letter to you, so be still and listen.
- Pray – There is no ideal system or special words that need to be said, just a regular conversation that you would have with your best friend. The moment you realize that you are not just talking into thin air but having a conversation, you realize that He is not distant but very close to you and not a stranger but a friend, a loving father, that you can bear your heart to and cry out to and share exciting things with.
- Community – We also know that when we want to grow in a field of area, we go and watch and spend time with people that are further along in their development. It is not any different with Christians. Communities provide opportunities for mentorship and progress. Communities also provide healing and support in our growing process. Find people that are graceful and spend time with them, find people that are merciful and spend time with them, find people that are gentle and spend time with them, and see how God is working in their life as well as yours. The Bible says that no one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. God is love and when you are with people who live to be like Christ and love one another, it reveals God to us in action through other believers.
A relationship with God can be compared to a relationship with your closest friend to a certain point. Unlike people God is perfect and His motives are always pure and loving. Open up, be vulnerable and invite Him in.