From Knowledge to Relationship

I was at home preparing for a bible study that met on a weekly basis when I realised I didn’t remember anything spoken at church on Sunday. I wanted to pass it off as being busy and having a lot of different things in my life leading to forgetfulness. However, there was a deeper underlying problem. A hint was that this happened regularly, almost every week. Was I not spiritual enough? Did I not care about God’s word? Why was I not focused at church? These kinds of questions floated around in my mind.

Here’s what I didn’t realise: I had more knowledge of God than a relationship with him. A hint of this was how I thought about him – I thought of him as God. I didn’t talk to my Father, Jesus or Holy Spirit. They were a distant God in my mind. If you asked me, I would have told you that of course God was close to me, but in reality he was not. Did I pray throughout the day? Did I talk with the Father? Did I listen carefully? Did I ask him questions? No. I did not.

I knew what God liked and disliked, but not because he was telling me directly. I knew everything I knew because of the Bible or church preaching. The Bible is incredibly powerful, but reading it without a relationship with the Father held back its power. When I read it, I assumed I was always in the right and every promise belonged to me. In the same way, every curse or rebuke was for ‘bad’ people… or something…

How wrong I was!

I was blind to the sin and idols in my heart because I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Knowledge of him doesn’t give room for him to touch my heart and bring up the things I need to deal with. If only I had talked with him, asking him to reveal sin to be dealt with, I would have saved myself so much pain!

So, when did the change from knowledge to relationship happen? Well, it’s hard to give a date or time because it was more of a journey, but I can say for certain the process accelerated during a recent part of my life. (More details here) When I was at the end of myself I forced, yes, forced myself into prayer like never before. I changed from praying 5 minutes per day (on a good day) to hours each day – I’m talking many hours praying, crying, pleading, crying… Yeah, it wasn’t glamorous 😉

BUT…

Through my prayer times, my Father in heaven showed me many things about my heart and the mess that was inside. He also gently showed me what other people were feeling because of my actions. Wow. That wrecked me. I had no idea of just how much pain I had caused, especially to those closest to me. It still hits me as I write this, months later!

Some things you cannot explain. Other things you can. Only the explainable things are talked about at church, which is understandable to some degree. However, there is so much more to God than you can ever understand through teaching. The ONLY WAY, please read carefully, THE ONLY WAY to truly understand God is to have a close relationship with him.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but now the only people I can truly relate to in a spiritual setting are those who also have an intimate relationship with the Father. They talk act differently. Things get under their skin that just don’t bother most people. They understand another side of God and his heart, so they will not stand for things that break his heart. Sure, they still mess up plenty! But they’re different.

When was the last time someone, christian or not, told you “you’re different”? Do you stand out, especially to those who don’t know Jesus? If not, it might be time to lock your door and get on your knees for a few hours a day until that changes.

Passion For God

Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.

This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.

The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.

Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?

Family

This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.

The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.

Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.

Respectful Yet Honest

I was talking to a friend at church when he started talking about another friend of mine in a negative way. He didn’t respect them at all, saying they were an idiot. I’m sure there was a reason why this friend wasn’t the smartest, but that doesn’t justify putting them down like that! Not only did my friend manage to pull down my friend, but he also lost my trust.

Honesty is critical, but say behind someone’s back what you would say to their face. It may be hard, to be honest in a respectful way when they are wrong, but it is so essential to maintaining trust in relationships. If something is wrong, tell them! The worst thing to do is gossip about them when they are likely to fix their problem if only they were told.

2 Corinthians 8:21 says ‘For we aim at what is honourable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.‘ Respect and honesty build trust, one small conversation at a time. Don’t underestimate its power, but instead aim to respect everyone, including God.

What are you filled with?

At around the age of 18, I went to one night of a youth camp. A guest speaker was preaching about being filled with God. Afterwards, I knelt for prayer and just started crying out to God, asking Him to fill me. As I was kneeling people began praying for me. The feeling of God filling me intensified. After a little time, I started to feel normal again and thought that must be it. I thought God filled me, but He had more. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘Caleb if you want more, press in harder.’ I started praying again, and tears continued to flow even more freely. After repeating this process four or five times, I was a wreak. I looked terrible! (I know because I went to the bathroom after and looked in the mirror. I was shocked at how bad I looked!) I had given everything I had to God. At that time, I felt so close to God I could feel every little uncaring comment and each rude remark. I felt all my senses on high alert, each one pouring love. I have never felt closer to God all my life. There has never been a time before or after that has been even close.

How hungry are you? Are you willing to put everything out there? Are you ready to surrender everything to God and trust Him to fill you, or are you too busy? Do you want a life-changing experience, or are you comfortable with your current relationship with God?

Revelation 3:20 says ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.‘ In this verse, Jesus is talking. He desperately wants a relationship with you! Regardless of your current position with God, if you open your heart, even more, God will respond.

The Power of Relationship

Today I found it natural to spend time with God. My devotion didn’t feel forced, but instead very refreshing. I have often experienced reading the Bible, praying and worshipping as dry and dull. I can’t wait to finish so I can do something else. I don’t feel a real connection because I’m not there for the right reasons. I have found myself being there to ‘tick the devotion box.’ Today was different when I felt a natural pull toward worshipping and praying. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the time and feeling disappointed when it ended.

Real relationships are based on love. I will never build a strong relationship by giving five minutes each day. I have a choice to make. I can give with generosity, or I can love the smallest amount possible. After giving my time I don’t feel like I lost what I have given, but instead, I feel like I have gained from it. Real relationships are built on love, not duty.