- To meed the needs of the poor/needy in their own neighborhoods
- To be ready to answer those who ask about his/her hope in Christ
- To see his/her living room, coffee house, or break room, as primary places for fellowship
- To take the church back into the world, as a multi-faceted expression of all His people
One of the greatest & most vital themes woven throughout the scriptures is the idea of God’s people experiencing intimate connection with Him. We say things like “Jesus is my best friend”…”The Holy Spirit is my guide”….”I have a personal relationship with God.” This is the common pursuit of all the Biblical heroes, still available to us today; and it’s also often misunderstood and hijacked to other destinations in daily life… or jettisoned altogether in favor of alternative relational arrangements, as if the Heavenly Father were some distant relative we’ve deemed to be “unsafe” or “toxic” to our own self-absorbed versions of happiness.
There are many examples of modern-day spiritual heroes who “walk with God,” while countless other nominals pass-by obliviously in pursuit of temporary worldly pleasures; wanting to “have their cake and eat it too” as the old saying goes. I see this everywhere, don’t you? This is what practically happens when we become more fixated on the blessings of God than on God Himself. What a tragic juxtaposition it is when the creatures lose touch with the Creator by clinging to the creation.
This is the dynamic that I see so often rising-up in my own heart, observe in the people around me, and see full-scale in the society in which I currently call home. It has its roots in pride, the original sin that claims that I may actually know what’s better for me than God Himself. Like petulant children who have (literally) been given the world by a Generous Father full of love; we tend to get lost in the gifts themselves, only sincerely seeking Him when we need our circumstances to change or to be rescued from misfortune. Yet His priorities are completely different, alien to our instincts. The purpose of our lives, especially in relation to our Heavenly Father, is INTIMACY with Him….everything else is byproduct.
This is how people of great faith can appear to be so peaceful and content in situations that seem impossibly harrowing. Faith is not the passive belief that God exists out there somewhere Whose purpose is to reward the world’s “good people” by making things go well for them in their short lives on earth. This is a weak & miserable counterfeit of true, Biblical faith; and it doesn’t actually work in the end because, well, there is no end. The world we live in now is a dress-rehearsal for what’s coming, and we’re being called to learn our parts and join hands with the Master in the Great Dance that is already breaking-out all around us.
Biblical faith is not “knowing about God” in order to make informed decisions about your life; it’s about KNOWING GOD” in every step of every day, acquiescing to his movements as He carries you along in the chapter. REAL FAITH is about trusting Him fully no matter what circumstances or consequences we encounter, being fully-persuaded that He is good, that He has us in the palm of His hand, and that He is working things out to complete us in ways we cannot control. What we CAN control is how close we allow ourselves to become with Him.
This is what is meant by the idea of having a “personal relationship with God.” Although this phrase doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the Bible, it’s the common theme that runs throughout salvation history from Adam all the way to the Conquering Christ. I’m cuddling-up with Him this morning with these things in mind; asking Him to strip-away all the lies in me that cause distance between us, and asking Him to replace them with truths from His lips. I’m encouraging myself with His Word, which is His love letter to all mankind in general and to me in particular. I pray that these words are meaningful to you as well. Seek Him today….
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
“’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord… (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly SEEK HIM.” (Hebrews 11:6)
”All these people [of great faith] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
“…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)