Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dangerous Faith: Running Toward Relationship

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7-11

Jesus is calling. He is calling out for disciples who are willing to take up their crosses everyday and follow him. He is calling for those who are willing to live dangerously for the Lord. Over the next few months, we are going to study what it means to have a “Dangerous Faith.” My hope is that we would accomplish two things: First, I want us to leave boring religion and dead rules behind and run after a living relationship with God. Second, I want us to be moved to a place of great passion in our Christian walk. I want us to love God and to show that love by obeying Him with reckless abandon.

In the above passage, we find that Paul accomplished both of these objectives. He was fully surrendered. He tells us that he was willing to give up EVERYTHING for the sake of Christ. Why? He was willing to give everything up because he considered everything to be of no more value than trash when compared to knowing Christ. Don’t miss that! That’s big. For Paul nothing compared to the immeasurable joy he found in his relationship with God. So, if we hope to attain this level of full surrender to God, then we have to begin by running toward relationship with Him.

But you might ask, “Didn’t Paul have a little bit of an upper hand on us ordinary Christians? I mean he did see Jesus in divine form on the road to Damascus...” NO! The joy of knowing God is a promise that is open to and expected of all God’s children. We may not have a vision like Paul did, but we can know God just as intimately (see Hebrews 10:19-22 and Ephesians 3:12).

But for many of us the idea of knowing God intimately and hearing His voice is surrounded with a lot of confusion. We don’t know what it means to know God intimately, and we aren’t sure what it is supposed to feel like. We hear stories about people’s super-spiritual visions or dream-like trances and we feel embarrassed or ashamed that we haven’t experienced the same. We may even wonder if we know God at all.

Somewhere along the way we have gotten distracted. We have moved away from relationship with God and have moved into religion and duties, to the point that now most of us doubt whether or not the kind of relationship Paul talked about is really even available. If you want to know God and are surrounded by confusion on what it means to be in relationship with Him, then here’s the solution. Are you ready?

Just ask! The Lord has promised us intimacy with Him, IF we seek it (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Luke 11:9). Jesus died to secure this intimacy for us. God will not withhold it from you. You may have to persevere to get it. God doesn’t always work on our timetables. You may have to seek after it and sacrifice your time and priorities to receive it, but the Lord will not withhold it from His children for long. In fact, He longs for us to have intimacy with Him, it is His heart. 
The problem isn't that God withholds this intimacy from us; it is that we expect the wrong things. We expect some sort of spiritually induced acid trip to heaven. Although Scripture bears witness to visions and even trips to heaven, most often the Spirit of God works much more consistently and quietly in our hearts. He works when we read the Bible, when we pray, when we worship Him, and when we spend time with His people. In those times He fills our hearts with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22-23).

I challenge you this week… ask the Lord to draw you closer into relationship with Him and then seek after Him. Forsake other things for the pursuit of Him. He will not keep you at arm’s length for long. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

For further reading this week…

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