Summary: Part 1. God invites us into a personal relationship where we know him and experience his presence.
For those who weren’t with us on Christmas Eve, we were lookin g at the birth of Jesus, of course, and God’s purpose for sending Jesus into the world. According to 1 Jo. 4:9, God sent his Son out of love for us so that we might have life, eternal life forever in heaven with God, and also life abundantly on this earth (John 10:10). Yet it concerns me that people, particularly Christian believers, are struggling to experience the full, abundant, fruitful, life of God. Why aren’t people becoming more loving, having more joy, becoming more kind? How can over 70-80% of a community fail to be in a worship gathering on any given Sunday morning? This concerns me because we were created to worship God and give him our devotion and love and be in fellowship with one another. Why is the rate of divorce among Christians is almost equal to the population at large? I know Christians presently going through separations and divorce, how can this be?
I can explain why people who are not yet Christians don’t experience this life because the Bible tells us they have not received Jesus and the life he offers. They don’t have the Spirit of God living in them and therefore they don’t have the power of God to change. The ways of God seem foolish to them. But what about Christian believers who have the Spirit of God and therefore have access to all the power and resource of God in their life?
As we went through our Bible study “Experiencing God” this past Fall I was reminded that it comes back to one thing, our relationship with God. The reason we don’t see any changes in our life is because we may have a Christian belief system but we aren’t necessarily in a close relationship with God, experiencing God in a personal way in our life.
Let me explain the difference. A belief system means there are certain things I believe to be true. I believe God exists, I believe God sent his Son, Jesus, who died and took my sins to the cross so I can be forgiven and live forever in heaven, that I have been “saved” by God’s grace. Perhaps we could recite the Apostles Creed by heart, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven in earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord…”. We call this orthodoxy, having the right beliefs. But what I’ve discovered is that having the right beliefs or belief system alone, doesn’t change a person’s life and cause them to live differently. Even practicing certain disciplines like prayer and reading Scripture, or attending church services doesn’t bring any change if we do them mechanically, in other words if we are just going through the motions because our Christian belief system tells us we should. What changes us is our personal relationship with God, and experiencing him living through us in a real and personal way.
Listen to what Henry Blackaby writes in Experiencing God,
“Everything in your Christian life, everything about knowing Him, and experiencing Him, everything about knowing His will, depends on the quality of your love relationship to God.”