At Northstar this week, we continued our series “GO” on The Great Commission. I have learned over the years that I can’t say everything I would like to say on Sunday because people generally are not willing to still be sitting there several days later. The Bible is so rich and so relevant that the issue is what to exclude rather than what to include. I can’t share everything, so it takes wisdom and discernment to decide what to say and what to leave out. Enter this Blog. The Northstar Community blog provides me the opportunity to go a little deeper on the message series.
This blog post is on the importance of BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD BEFORE YOU “GO.”
Seems pretty common sense to me, Marty. Of course I have a relationship with Jesus. I accepted Him as my savior. Of all the Christian catchphrases – the phrases Christians use to profess their faith – the one I hear most often is a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” My question is simple: How effective and how personal is your relationship with God?
When you think of Christianity, what comes to your mind—a set of rules, regulations and obligations or a deep, intimate relationship with God? Having an intimate relationship with God has been written about, prayed about, agonized over, mostly because we feel we are self-sufficient. Since the biggest task we have is often fighting with ourselves, building a personal relationship that enables us to trust completely on God is not for weaklings. It is hard to do.
We are all seeking God’s will for our lives. We seek advice or guidance from friends, or from our Northstar Groups, or listen to sermons or Podcasts seeking some hidden knowledge that enables us to ascertain what God wants from us. And there is nothing wrong with that, except that going to everyone else for answers cuts God out of the equation. So before you look anywhere else, go to God first. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He and He alone knows the answers. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
I do wonder from time to time if we are not so busy trying to be religious and follow God’s plan for our lives that we neglect to pay attention to our relationship with the God to whom our Christianity points. Or, we are so busy making certain that what we believe is correct that the One in whom we believe becomes secondary. As a result we can spend so much time practicing our religion by doing the right things, making sure we show people we love God and doing ministry that we miss the fundamental truth that if we develop a relationship with God, whatever the circumstances, whatever the trials, we will stay anchored to our heavenly father.
I have discovered over my years in ministry that it is easier to practice religion than it is to be in a close and intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. And whether we realize it or not everything we do as Christians is based and built on our personal relationship with God. We can have a library sized knowledge about God and the things of God, but without a real, living, working relationship with God, it’s not worth very much.
Building a relationship with God is a gradual one, and like any other relationship in life it can and should deepen over time. It requires consciously taking the time to get to know them. Learning about them, trying to understand them, listening to them, sharing with them, being grateful to them, questioning what is not understood and actively listening to their answers. It means being attentive. It means consciously being present in the relationship. And so it is with our relationship with God. Although it is well to remember that faith and mystery and worship must be a part of it, because after all, this is God we are talking about, not Aunt Jane.
I encourage you to take a few moments and reflect on your relationship with Jesus Christ. Is it where you want it to be? If your honest answer is, “No,” then it is time to get to work. Dedicate more time to the relationship. Learn more about God and your faith in Christ. Be open and be inquisitive. Pray often, argue, debate challenge and discover. And, remember one thing as you undertake this process. Every relationship in the history of the world has experienced failures whether big or small. We make mistakes. We forget something. We neglect something. We are insensitive at times. We pout rather than confront or confront without thinking and so on. I think you get the point. Don’t expect a perfect relationship with God either. You will make mistakes. But, the grace of God enables us to fail from time to time in our walk, without ruining the relationship. The Bible is full of stories of God’s people failing God and is equally full of stories of God forgiving them and welcoming them back to Him.
First, develop the relationship God desires for you. Then you are ready to Go.