Do you ever find that most people have some sort of expectation about church, and about the church people in it? I mean they wouldn't think that we are some sort of hypocrites if we lived up to their expectations, right? It is easy to see that sin is the problem, but that can become an excuse for bad behavior. Really, we all sin, and Jesus forgives sin, so as a Christian we are all set. Besides, we are working hard at being good, changing and getting past our past, right? So, why can't we get it right? Sin is the very thing that separates us from God isn't it?
As Christians we have all sorts of problems relating to God and sin just adds to the problem. The Bible tells us that Jesus is King, Father and Daddy (Abba). How we relate to a king is probably different than how we relate(d) to our own daddy.
In America we don't have a King, but in countries that do, there is a certain reverence expected for the authority of the position. We don't barge in on the king, we, at the very least, need an invitation. In the king's presence we probably have some sort of edicate to follow. Let's just say there are some kings and rulers for which we would receive the death penalty for disrespecting. The point is this, we don't relate to royalty the same way we relate to the local bank teller.
To see Jesus as our father or daddy, is something quite different. Because the King is also our father, a different relationship begins to take shape. There are a few words in the Bible that define the depth of our relationship with our King and Father. One is yada (Hebrew) it is the same word that is used when the Bible in the verse, "Adam knew Eve." It means a number of things: to know, to acquaint, to declare, to make known, to have sex, and to reveal. It this type of intimacy that God's relationship with His children is meant to be. The other koinenea (Greek), which is often translated communion. Again, this word means the deepest and most intimate relationship. Therefore; communion should be one of the deepest moments we have with God. Is that true for you?
This type of intimate relationship is misunderstood, most often by our worldview, the fact that God is supernatural and we're not, and our paradigm for relating to the father.
Our God is supernatural, perfect, eternal-- and always right. Therefore our ways can never be His ways. Why? Because of our natural ways and the sin nature that lives within us. The point? He is God and you never will be. He doesn't respond to the laws of nature, or the limitations of the finite human mind, but to the deep calling deep that is within our spirit. We cannot understand God with our mind, but we must commune with Him in or spirit. Herein lies the problem. We are constantly taught to fix the old man, when all we need to do is let the new one-- the spirit man-- out. Letting the new man out is such a powerful and supernatural experience, that it strikes a death blow to the old man. Then the only problem becomes our mind and heart which are at work to regain control of the old man.
One way in which many Christians are damaged is in their view of what a father actually is. Some natural fathers have been loving, but others have been abusive, controlling, distant, or have completely abdicated. Some fathers argue, berate or belittle their children. But our God is not like that. We often hear that He is a loving God, but what does that really mean? How does a supernatural God actually love us? Can we tell by the blessings that we have on our lives, or lack of them? What about trial, would a loving father allow us go through that? And the age old question, where is God when bad things happen to good people? We can't answer these questions in the natural. They must be answered in the the supernatural realms.
If you are a parent, there are some things that you learn about kids if you spend any time with them. We can't expect a young child to drive a car; he's just not going to be ready. No matter how much God wants us to achieve our destiny, we are going to need to grow in the relationship of the spirit to achieve it. Some folks would have you believe that this is prayer, Bible study, going to church and eventually serving. These can all be very religious, but not always relational. To build this relationship with God, we do need to spend time, but it needs to be spent doing relational things, not religious things.
All kids need a blend of fathering. Sometimes it's tickle time, lap time, teaching time, dinner time, vacation time and sometimes it is time-out or a spanking time. To build our relationship, God uses those, and many other facets of real relationship with us. He knows us so well, that He will create special ways in which He communicates directly with us. Think about it, when was the last time you directly heard from your Father in Heaven? If it's been awhile, maybe you are being religious, and not relational.
Each one of my kids is different and responds to different acts of love. One likes gifts and another likes time together, one is affectionate, and the other calls me everyday. God knows what tugs on our heart strings, and He pursues that as a way to have relationship with us.
As an earthly father, I want to give things to my kids-- even more so God would want to give to things to His kids. What amazes me is that kids are so short sighted, that they'll miss the opportunity to go for a treat, and squander it on bickering or being disobedient in some other way. Are we missing some good things in our relationship with Jesus because we find a million other things easier and more gratifying in the moment?
The idea of having a deep and personal relationship with Jesus is done in the spirit, not in the mind. As His spirit commingles with ours, something becomes alive that words can never explain. But this is just the beginning! You see, a relationship is much more than a warm fuzzy from the Holy Spirit when we got saved. This relationship is described in many ways in the Bible.
"His mercies are new every morning." Lamentations
"His love endures forever." Romans
"He has counted the hairs on our head." Matthew
"Nothing can separate us from the love of God." Romans
He seeks us out like a romantic lover. Song of Songs
"He forgives our sins as far as the east is from the west." Psalms
He calls us His lover, and His bride. What could better describe the love that one has for his new girlfriend of boyfriend... and new spouse? And He works all things, even bad things, and even our sine for the good if we'd just love Him back. But for most of the church we want to be a "bless me club," and see God as a spiritual bellhop. But He is a King and Father. He has authority, not to overpower us, but to protect us, and carry out a perfect plan, if we'll just do our part.
So, how do you do it? How do you get intimate with Jesus? I wish there was a formula, but then we'd be all religious about it. However; here are a few suggestions beyond church-going, prayer for "stuff," and Bible study.
-1 Ask Him - The Bible says that you don't have what you need because you don't ask. This may sound like prayer, and technically it is. But God says whatever you ask in my name, He'll give it to you. Something like this. "Lord I want to know You, I want to hear Your voice." I am of the mind that God likes prayers that grow our relationship more than He likes the "gimmie" prayers. Do you think think your kid would appreciate an unsolicited gift, of say a special time together that he or she wasn't expecting? What if God spoke to you, and you were just blown away at His love for you? The wonderful thing about knowing God, is a simple moment that can take your breath away. And it could be anywhere, from the mountain tops to the a prison cell, God can find you, but can you find Him?
-2 Worship Him - Try some new songs-- ones about knowing Him. "I Want to Know You", "Surrender," "Hungry," "More Love, More Power," or "Your Name," to name a few. I don't care what style, but the lyrics become really important to how we commune with God. Praise Him, thank Him, cry out to Him in desperation, turn the music up loud, or be very still, but find a way to focus your passion on Him.
-3 Listen - God is often a still small voice, but that doesn't mean that He doesn't have a lot to say! Think about what it's like to get to know someone that you love? God is like that. He does want to know you. Read Song of Songs, it is all about that wonderful romantic loving relationship. Romance is simply being thought of when your lover is doing something else. This is the intimacy part. Many of us are so damaged when it comes to intimacy. We create walls or have conditioned responses from being treated badly in life. It's no wonder we can't get close to people, or God. But if we can get still, He will be there.
-4 Turn off the noise - For many, there is so much going on, that we can't cut through the noise in our lives. There has got to be a time where you shut down the things from the outside. It can be in the car on the way to work, but there needs to be a time. Time is the currency of relationship. A quiet meditation, a long walk, the mountains, the ocean, the beach, an empty sanctuary, the recliner or the bedroom. Find a place to get away even for a few minutes.
-5 Holiness - Maybe you need to start asking God to forgive you once a day. It seems simple, but it is way to rely on God for what God wants to do anyway. Cut down the diet of R movies, garbage TV etc. It is different for everyone. Our world is really unholy, and you can't be all religious about it. But I guarantee that if you create an atmosphere of godliness, it will make all this easier.
-6 Anointing - The anointing breaks yokes. If you are not familiar with it, then you are missing out on so much that God is. The manifest presence of God comes for certain reasons, at certain times. Why? Because God is God. He loves His kids and wants to be with them. We can't live our whole Christian life believing that God exists. We must experience God, or remain babes in the faith. The anointing hangs out where folks are baptized in the Holy Spirit.
-7 Love - When Christians love the unlovable, something amazing happens to both parties. Anyone can have the pastor or deacons over for lunch, but try committing to someone that isn't making it in the main stream church.
-8 Fellowship - God moves where two or three are gathered in His name. It really works best if God is invited. This can be anywhere anytime.
Even as I read this, it gets a little bit like the same ol', same ol'. But this is how God works. Find a partner to share it with and keep asking, keep searching, keep worshipping, and most of all keep loving.