How well do you know Jesus?
Sure, you know who Jesus is. After all, we live in a day and age where due to the internet and social media, the gospel message is more available now than it ever has been before. Especially during these times specifically, when church gatherings are being held through apps such as Facebook Live and others. In the United States during 2020, who hasn’t heard the name, Jesus Christ?
I think there’s just a little too much truth in the statement above. Let me make it a little more personal for a few of you. Sure, you know who Jesus is. You’re at church every weekend because you know it’s important to your spouse. You grew up with a family Bible that sat in the living room, just to be sure everyone who visited your house knew you had one. Your grandmother started praying for and about you before you were even born and made sure you knew this while you were growing up. Yes, you have heard all about Jesus.
Here’s the deal. I know a lot about Michael Jordan. He’s the greatest NBA basketball player of all time. Jordan went to college at the University of North Carolina. He’s played baseball professionally at the minor league level within the Chicago White Sox organization. When it comes to the NBA, he played for both the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. There’s much more I know about MJ. Still, I don’t know him. If the two of us met today, as excited as I would be, he would have no clue who I was. I hope you see where I am going with this.
Knowing about someone is great. There’s a lot that it’s good for. I’m able to have some very intellectual conversations with all kinds of people about Michael Jordan. I could sit here and impress a basketball fan with Jordan’s stats that I know by heart. I know his shoe size, his children’s names, and what kind of vehicles he drives. Still, I don’t know him. All of this information I have concerning the man will never be worth anything to either myself or Jordan.
It doesn’t make me a better basketball fan or a more intelligent individual. All this means is that I have spent a lot of time throughout my life learning about him.
When it comes to God, knowing about simply isn’t enough. This knowledge does absolutely nothing for your soul on its own, kind of like the information I’ve acquired about Mike. Jesus isn’t concerned with what you know about Him. Even the demons know far more about who He is than you or I ever will. What matters to Jesus is that we know who He is, on a personal level. His desire is for every single one of us to experience and continues developing a personal relationship with Him. I’ll just say it. There’s a ton of you going to church every Sunday morning who won’t be with us when this life is over.
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me,’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23
God is pretty clear, here. This is definitely one of the many cases where it doesn’t matter who you know. It’s who knows you that’s important. Technically speaking, sure, Jesus knows all of us, inside and out. He knows us better than we even know ourselves. He is the Maker and Creator of the world and everything in it. Still, what He’s saying here isn’t necessarily what He knows and doesn’t know. The point of the passage is that Jesus wants you to know who He is. Not just simply knowing about Him.
Over the previous five years, this is one of the questions I am asked the most when talking to people about God and His Word. “How do you go about experiencing a personal relationship with Him?” This is a pretty simple question to answer. Not because of my degree in theology or the books and commentary I read about the Bible. I know how to answer this question because I was asking myself for a very long time.
I heard the term personal relationship with Christ for the first time in September of 2012. I had just moved into a faith-based recovery home for men suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and going to church was mandatory. I grew up in the church. I even went to a private, Catholic grade school. Every other morning the school day began with going to mass. That was a lot of my struggle. I had never been introduced to a personal relationship with God. All I knew was that if I did wrong, I was going to spend eternity in hell. So, of course, I put forth as much effort as I could into enjoying life while I had the chance.
Back then, in 2012, I would get jealous of the other men I was living with. They were living life in relationship with God. They knew Him and He knew them. It was evident in the changes that were taking place both in and through their lives. Instead of simply asking someone how all this begins happening, I continued to pretend like I knew what I was doing. This brought on a ton of additional pain that I didn’t have to experience. There’s nothing worse than wanting something so bad you can’t stand it and have no idea where you need to begin.
Because of that, going out of my way to introduce others to a personal relationship with God has been important to me. Because I have personally been in those shoes before, I know the questions the enemy tells us are too embarrassing to ask. I know how to bring them up in a way that makes the other person feel more comfortable about what they are discussing. Again, this is very important. This isn’t something I know now because of a book I read or a class I took. I know because that’s exactly where I was at one time.
I don’t intend to cover all of this here, today. I will get into some important details in my next post and a few of our upcoming podcast shows. This is simply a great place to start with developing a personal relationship with God.
Getting to know Jesus
Getting to know Jesus is no different than anyone else. It requires spending time with the person. Think about some of the closest friends you have, the ones that know you far better than anyone else does. Usually, these are the friends we have had the longest. We feel so close to them because of the amount of time involved with developing this bond. With some of my closest friends, literally 10, 15, sometimes even 20 years have been spent with them is a significant part of my life.
We will never know Jesus as personally as He wants us to unless we are going out of our way to spend time with Him. Just a heads up, this isn’t done with a simple 90 minutes at church once a week. Think about how crazy that sounds? Take your closest friend. If you were only available to them for an hour and a half once every seven days, would you be as close to them as you are? More than likely not.
Making God important
We get to know Jesus by making Him important in our daily lives. Again, this isn’t accomplished on Sunday morning. Every day, we spend time with God in prayer. We spend time reading the Bible. Don’t take off trying to read and memorize the entire thing in one year. Start out slowly, just reading a few verses, one chapter at most, every day. When it’s done authentically, spending time with our nose in the Bible is the best way to get to know Jesus.
Also, once we begin developing an understanding of who and what He is, we go out of our way to make sure we are experiencing Him outside of prayer and reading God’s Word. Hands down, my favorite way to experience God is through His people. The individuals I come into contact with on a daily basis can teach me more about the character and nature of God than any theology class ever has. This is because we are created in God’s image. By spending time with His creation, we learn more about who He is.
Falling in love with Jesus
This one is by far the most important, at least in my opinion. That’s the experience of my life, especially here recently. I can know Jesus. I can read and study, pray, and spend time with His people, but this isn’t the same as loving Him. Think about this for a second. How many people do you know in life that you can’t say you love at an intimate level? This doesn’t mean you’re wrong or not doing something the right way. It simply means that love and intimacy are very strong words. They are two words that God wants us to be able to associate with His name.
Love doesn’t just happen. A lot of time and effort is involved. There’s sacrifice. Priorities and focuses shift with love. We become someone new. That’s what love does. It transforms and renews us. Until we learn to say we love Jesus and know Him intimately, we are never going to encounter Him the way He desires. I know. I have a few journals to prove it.