Happy Wednesday my friends!
A couple weekends ago, one of the last weekends of August, marked big changes in my life: it was the last weekend before Johnny moves to Winnipeg for the last time EVER, timed perfectly with our engagement party, hosted by one of my beautiful maids of honour and her boyfriend, pictured above.
It also brought a question from an old colleague via social media that I have been pondering ever since how I might want to answer. I also asked her permission to share the question.
It went something like this:
I’m trying to have a relationship with the Lord, but it feels forced. Any tips?
The amazing thing about Christ, I responded, is that He meets us where we’re at. I used to “try” to have a relationship with Him, but what I really needed to do was “die” to my own striving and forcing and faking, and let His Holy Spirit invade my life.
Saul, in the Bible, was a man who persecuted Christians and threw them in jail. Later, God used Saul as one of the most fundamental Christians of all time… he even wrote most of the New Testament of the Bible! This is ALL BECAUSE of an encounter Paul had himself with the Holy Spirit. He experienced Jesus.
Once I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is Lord, it is not difficult at ALL to WANT to have relationship with Him, because He promises His Holy Spirit comes into those who commit their lives to Him.
I responded in this way to the colleague, and asked if any of it resonated with her.
Her response was something of a “yes and no.”
That, for her, when she read people “proving” Christianity with the Bible, it felt fake to her. That she’s tried reading the Bible, but has a hard time understanding it. Even praying to God, she relented, had never helped her. She wanted desperately to have this encounter with God, but just hadn’t.
I think it’s really vitally important as a Christian that I don’t disregard the fact that this is a reality for this colleague, and likely many others.
The fact that the Word has revealed itself to me, and that the Holy Spirit Himself has, doesn’t mean that He has everyone, or that He approaches everyone in the same way.
It also doesn’t mean people should take “my” word for any of it, and I certainly hope no one would. I am, in fact, often skeptical of people who come to church once and claim they have “encountered the Lord,” and are then gung-ho for church. This is dangerous because Christianity is NOT about church, and ALL about Jesus Christ.
“To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”MERE CHRISTIANITY / CS LEWIS
The Bible Study I wrote and conducted a few months ago recognized the fact that all of this STARTS with believing. As CS Lewis writes, if you don’t believe that Jesus existed, you have no reason to do what He says.
If you think the Bible is antiquated and meaningless, you won’t regard it of any value.
But if you dig for answers to both of these things rather than allowing this present world to form your thinking, you will find unshakeable evidence that Jesus exists, and peace that passes all understanding that the Bible is HIS Word.
I do not think it worthy to spew facts to you about these things, because each one of us is different in how we might best understand these things. I also know that the Gospel defends itself.
However, I will provide some resources that I think are wonderful places to start, for anyone who may be interested in this digging:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.ROMANS 3:21-24