Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Magnificent Neighborhood

Recently, I’ve been teaching a good deal based on a realization I had a few months ago: it really doesn’t matter if you pray, meditate, worship, serve, spend time reading your Bible, etc., etc., etc., if you don’t have a personal, intimate, dependent relationship with and on Jesus Christ. I truly believe that the essence of our faith is relationship with God—after all, He came to be with us personally, and when He went back to His Father, He promised us an “Advocate” or “Helper” (John 14:16-18) who would dwell “within” us. The individual, incarnate connection and the spiritual indwelling speak volumes about the relationship that God designed and seeks for us.

It’s true that a good portion of the evangelical church, and a significant part of Christendom for that matter, teach that we are to have a “personal relationship with Jesus,” and that we need to “invite him into our heart…” clearly invitations to a personal and intimate connection. We’re taught that there are many ways to foster this relationship: prayer, meditation, Scripture reading… but wait, Kit… didn’t you imply at the beginning that these things are of no value without a relationship already in place? So how can they BUILD that relationship… seems like you have a “chicken-egg” problem here! Let me clarify… in 2008, (August 18 to be specific) I wrote about the differences between “knowing and knowing [about].” The conclusion drawn was that in order to truly know someone (as opposed to merely knowing about them), requires some measure of experience with the individual… thus, if one’s heart is not open to Christ’s ministering, guidance, and loving direction in one’s life, and one is not open to moving in accord with these, then experience is limited, and acquaintance, rather than genuine, personal, intimate “knowing,” is the result. The point then is that reading, praying, serving, are important… but not sufficient… we MUST encounter the personal, intimate, living Christ in our lives and allow Him to impact us regularly and powerfully. In fact, we must come not only to expect His guidance, His direction, His impact, we must rely on it to sustain us… thus dependence.

In this personal, intimate, dependent relationship, our times of communion with the Holy Spirit in prayer and meditation, our time seeking to increase the depth of our knowledge of Christ, his nature and character, through the Word He gives us, our times of expressing gratitude, awe, and wonder as we worship our Creator, will all establish and reinforce that very relationship, and enable us to experience Him and His love and deepen our relationship in the context of the manifest experience of His daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute impact on us in our obedience. And to KNOW him more fully.

Lastly, it’s essential to recognize that God gave us each other, and that His Spirit is present in each of us. (More on that soon.) We must recognize that our community is intended to reflect and magnify God’s presence one to another… in a relationship that reflects the way God loves us… and thereby know him better. What a great… no… what a magnificent neighborhood in which to dwell.