So, as a follow up to Monday’s post on actually equipping the church to be who Jesus intended, let’s consider what equipping along the pathway of personally relating with Jesus might include?
First, may I suggest the need to clearly and consistently communicate a tenant of the Gospel that is central to our “growing up in Christ:”
>> that God did not intend for us to live FOR Him but rather to live WITH Him.
Please understand that I am hesitant to assert any personal understanding of God’s intent, unless I have become confident that the whole of Scripture supports my hypothesis. I am very confident in this assertion. Simple rationale strengthens the thought.
Why on earth would God put on skin and come to earth declaring His unconditional love and sacrificial friendship if all He desired from us was robotic, ritualistic obedience?
Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.
Abraham was called a friend of God. Why? Because he walked with God, listened for God, responded to God. He obeyed because he related with God. He did not obey so God would relate with him. After all, God invited him on a road trip, not the other way around.
We need to realize that the Scriptures indicate that Jesus died not only for our sinful disobedience – for what we did. He also, and likely more significantly, died because of who He is. What He did as the death-taker demonstrates who He is as the life-giver. He chose to give His life. Grace was calculated, intentional, resolute, bloody, a temporary burial wrap.
This was not the stuff of Valentine’s Cards. It was and is the stuff of an enduring love. It is the stuff of “with” not “for.” This is the stuff that compels us to want to live in such a way, as Paul says, that is worthy of this “first loved us” Gospel.
May we equip the church to live loved, personally relating with the One who first loved us, secure in His goodness rather than weary trying to prove our own.
Next, as we equip the church to personally relate with Jesus, may we equip people to pray in the same way that we breathe.
To pray without ceasing, as Paul asserted we must, would imply prayer as more than just a periodic exercise. Rather, it is a constant interaction. Probably mostly listening. Often unbeknownst to us. Intentionally as intercession in those times when a deep breath is needed.
This kind of praying produces a Christ-connected kind of living. This kind of praying results in Spirit-prompted rhythms. This kind of praying is the earmark of a personally-relating-with-Jesus life.
This kind of praying indicates a personal belief that we actually can relate with Him.
Finally, as we equip the church to personally relate with Jesus, may we equip people to read the Bible as though nourishment.
Moses in Deuteronomy 32 declared that God’s words are not meaningless words; they are our life. Jesus told Satan in Matthew 4 that man cannot live on bread alone. Paul extended the metaphor of “growing up in Christ” as moving from bread milk to heartier food. Nourishment.
Has the Bible been preserved for the sake of our preservation? Has the Bible’s presence been sustained to be sustenance that energizes us toward greater awareness of His presence?
What if the Bible’s purpose is simply to tell us of God’s enduring love while it grows us in an enduring relationship with Him? Specially in this way:
>> the more I immerse myself in the Scriptures, the more recognizable God’s promptings and more noticeable God’s ways as I relate with Him daily.
Why? Because I recognize from what I have read about Him when He is about to invite me to participate with Him. Because I notice from what I have read of His story when I am getting to be in on a particular scene of His story continued today.
Reading the Bible, when thought of in this way, becomes more than a chore. And studying to learn how to better read and understand the Bible, when thought of in this way, becomes less of an academic activity and more of a real-life necessity.
Not just meaningless words, but essential to my life of personally relating with Jesus.
Thoughts / Comments???
Next up – what actually equipping for us to walk TOGETHER with Jesus might include…
Praying to be one who actually equips.