Monday, December 7, 2009

What Is Eternal Life?--Christmas 3

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."
John 17:3

Several years ago when I was a volunteer in our youth group I went on a short-term mission trip. During the trip, the youth pastor threw out deep questions for us to ponder and discuss through the day. One of his favorite questions was, "Do you know God?" That particular question haunted me every time he asked it. When I came across the above verse I became more intrigued by his question. Early in my Christian life I would have simply said eternal life is life that lasts forever and that is a true statement, but I have come to understand eternal life is so much more than that. This verse describes eternal life as knowing the only true God--the God that is found in the Scripture as well as knowing His son, Jesus Christ.

Every single book in the Scriptures speaks of God. In Genesis we see God as the Creator whose creativity knows no bounds. Just realizing there is nothing that wasn't created by Him blows my mind. The next four books contain God's laws that reveal His Holiness, His love, and our need of a Savior. They also point us to Christ who is the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb who fulfills the Old Testament sacrifices. We miss something significant when we view the law as only a list of "do's" and "don'ts." It reveals the character of God and His loving protection over us. God is the author of life and we were created in His image. He wants His image bearers to love like He loves. Loving means we can't murder because God is the God of life. God is truth and to bear false witness mars His image in us. God is a giver and if we covet and steal we give the impression that God is a taker. When we fail, we not only fail to bear His image, we grieve the heart of a loving God who views us as children. We hurt others who are watching us to see what the Christian faith is. We hurt ourselves because sin and its consequences has negative impact on us, our lives, and on our relationships to God and man. Sin, big or small, always has serious consequences.

The instructions on worship reveal to us that God is holy and we're not. This exposes our need for a Savior, giving us the knowledge we need to be reconciled to God. The next books are historical books and show us how God relates to nations. The books of poetry reveal to us the thoughts men had when the Holy Spirit was inspiring them and the creative freedom they had in pouring their hearts out to God. The next books, the prophetic books, continue to expound on Gods' judgment on sin, His sovereign plans for man, and the way they could be reconciled to Him. His judgement may seem harsh, but they were always designed to draw people back to His heart and to preserve His chosen people.

The gospels reveals God Incarnate through Jesus! If we walk through the pages of the gospels we see a God who partied, who wept, who deeply loved, who confronted both gently and boldly, who laughed, who prayed, who taught. and who was so humble He served those He created. Jesus rubbed shoulders with the unlovely, the hated, the hateful, the sinful, the self-righteous, the sick, the demon possessed, the poor, the rich. He served men, women, and children just like me. He served those who were seeking Him, and those who were not. He served both Jews and Gentiles.

Acts reveals how God relates to us as He indwells us through His Holy Spirit. He works in our hearts, melting the hardness caused by bitterness, pain, and rebellion. He empowers us to honor God with our lives, our words, actions, and our attitudes. The remaining books are letters the Holy Spirit inspired men to write to teach, encourage, exhort, and confront churches and individuals as they learned to walk as men and women reconciled to Jehovah God. Most of the epistles begin with doctrine that reveal the heart of God and what we posses as His children. The last part of the books appeal to us to live for Him on the basis of all we possess in Him. The Bible ends with the book of Revelation describing God's final judgment on sin and our glorious reunion with Christ--a reunion that will end pain, illness, death, sin, fear, and sadness once and for all.  

Which brings us back to the original question--"Do you know HIM?" There are so many possible answers we could give to the question. "No", "I am not sure", "I know about Him,." "I think I do." "I think I am starting to." "I know Him better than I did last year." Hopefully we are all honest enough and love Christ enough to say, "Yes, but I want to know Him more." If that is the desire of your heart, I have some suggestions that might help it become a reality. First, we can make a commitment to spend time with Christ daily by reading His Word in small chunks and meditating on it! If He is to be our closest friend, our heavenly father, our comforter, our teacher–we will spend time with Him to know Him. When we read His word, it will help to remember the words on the page are the expressions of the heart and mind of a living all-powerful, omniscient, tender, loving God. The words are truth, even when our circumstances seem to contradict it. We benefit by spending time in prayer, discussing with Him what we've read and everything pertaining to our lives and our relationships. We can ask Him to give us hearts totally devoted to Him and then sit quietly at His feet so He can remind us of the Scriptures and bathe us in His love. Sometimes, I sit next to my husband and he puts his arm around me and we don't have to talk to feel connected. But we often find that out of the silence we're sharing we're prompted to tell each other something we hadn't planned on saying. The same thing happens when we are silent before God. He brings to mind things we need to discuss with Him or by bringing to mind a verse or a name of someone He would like us to pray for. He gives us a strong sense of His presence and simply whisper His love into our hearts.
Lastly, a question that comes to mind when the pastor posed the question to us was, "How do I know if I know Him?" The following questions might help us discern that: “Do I cry over the things Jesus cried over?” “Do I rejoice over the things that Jesus rejoiced over?” “Do I get angry over the things Jesus got angry over?” “Do I think about the things Jesus thought about?” “Do I love the lost the way Jesus loves them?” “Do I love other people in my church the way He did?” “Am I humble enough to wash other people's feet the way Christ did?” “Am I adopting His perspectives on the circumstances in my life that He has?” And most importantly, “Do I want to know Him more?” So let me ask you this Christmas season, do you know Him?

Prayer: Father, You are beyond our comprehension. Yet, it is Your desire to for us to know you. Please place in each of us an unquenchable thirst for you. Please continuously turn our hearts and minds towards You. In Roman 11:33 it says "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" We praise You for the riches found in knowing You and accept that we will never be able to fully understand and comprehend You. Help us never to be discouraged by what we don't comprehend but thrilled by what You choose to reveal to us and through us as your image bearers.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy, you blessed me so this Christmas Eve! I am going to share this with my Bible study group as we take our break of the Christmas and then New Year's holidays. What a great time of year to focus on why we spend time in His word and sitting at his feet.



Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!