Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Meaning of Life: Part 2, Understanding the Relationship

This is Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1, How to Know God
Once we trust Jesus we are able to know God. It is great to spend the eternal life God has given us getting to know God better. If there was someone I was introduced to 5 years ago yet I never spoke to again I would not have a relationship with that person. There is no such thing with God as "getting saved" 5 years ago yet never speaking to Him again, never seeking to know Him more. Those who know God will desire to know Him more as their lives go on. Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." "Know God" does not simply mean "be introduced to God." It means to know God experientially & intimately, to interact with God in a deep relationship.

Understanding the Relationship
In order to have a properly functioning relationship we must understand those involved in it. Here are some examples of properly operating relationships that help us understand how we are to relate with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Parents and children
Parents love, guide, protect, provide, & care for their children. God our Father loves, guides, protects, provides, & cares for us. It is comforting to know that God has unique wisdom, power, & foresight which enables Him to perfectly love, guide, protect, provide, & care for us.

Children love, respect, admire, & obey their parents. As children of God it is best for us to love, respect, admire, & obey God. Children naturally love their parents who gave them life. God gave us eternal life, we are reborn. When we are reborn we naturally love God. A baby loves its parents for their protection, provision, & care. A maturing child loves its parents also for their guidance & teaching. We grow in love for God the same way. A newborn child of God loves God for His protection from sin, His provision of grace and eternal life through Christ, and His care, His loving-kindness as they have thus far experienced it. A maturing child of God also loves Him for His guidance and for His wisdom.

Children admire their parents. They imitate them in order to learn the most essential functions of life. We learn how to talk, walk, behave, and live from our parents. We pick up many of their traits & habits. It is best to be the same way with God. To learn how to talk, walk, behave, and live from God. To pick up His traits and His loving ways.

Children say to their parent "When I grow up I want to be just like you." This is a very important factor in our relationship with God. We must have admiration that leads to imitation. If we don't love and admire God we can never hope to imitate Him because we won't want to, we wouldn't even see the point in doing so! In order to know God we must revere Him, that is to consider Him greater and wiser than ourselves. But to know God better, to grow in relationship with Him, we must adhere to God. Romans 12:9 says, "Love must be sincere. Cling as glue to what is good." James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you."

There is no imitation without information. A comedian who sets out to do an impression of a celebrity first has to listen to, watch, and study the person he seeks to imitate. A good impressionist learns the very tone, cadence, inflection, and mannerisms of the person he seeks to imitate. We have the perfect model, the perfect life, the greatest being to imitate, so the vastness of our listening, watching, and studying of God is immeasurable. But remember, God as our Father will teach us, He will help us in all the ways we could possibly ever need help. He isn't just willing and able but God is eager to help us. He wants to help us more than we want to be helped!

Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be imitators of God as dearly loved children." Here we are told to imitate God. We are to imitate Him as dearly loved children. Why? Because we are dearly loved by God! A dearly loved child has much more motivation to love, obey, admire, and imitate their parents. As God's children we are loved by the greatest Lover there has ever been. Love is the most beneficial thing that exists. What are we doing when we imitate God? We are loving.

Savior and the saved
We are the rescued, the saved, the delivered. Someone who is in need of rescue is facing disaster or destruction and is helpless and afraid. Jesus is our savior, our rescuer, our deliverer, our redeemer. He saves us from the power of sin & death (see Romans 6:10-11, 8:2 & John 11:25). God gives us peace so we are no longer afraid. His perfect love drives out our fears (see 1 John 4:18). God helps those who cannot help themselves but only those who admittedly cannot help themselves. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

Imagine a group of people trapped on the roof of a high-rise building which is engulfed in flames. Apparently, the only possible way to safety is to jump to the roof of an adjoining building -- 30 feet away! In desperation, people begin to attempt the impossible leap. Some jump farther out than others, but all who attempt it fall to their death. But suppose that suddenly the whirling sound of helicopter blades is heard, and there suddenly looms up over the building a helicopter, sent to be a rescue vehicle for those in such dire danger. This is a true picture of man’s helpless dilemma in sin. He is trapped in his condition, enslaved by sin and soon to face both the first & the second death. And he can do nothing to correct his present condition. If he tries to “leap,” seeking to improve or help or save himself, he merely leaps to his own destruction.

If you were actually in the situation described above, would you welcome a rescuer? Would the mechanics of the rescue operation be debated by those on the roof, or would each one “leap at the chance” to get aboard the rescue vehicle? Would the potential victims present their personal merit or their past “good” performance as a reason for being rescued? The questions answer themselves, don’t they? Those who are rescued are saved outside of their own strength. All we do is supply the helpless sinner willing to be saved, and God performs the rescue!

We must never forget that the word “rescue” presupposes a critical danger. Not only were we in danger of death but Christ had to go through danger, becoming sin & bearing God's wrath to condemn sin, in order to rescue us. Sin had earned us death but Jesus took the death penalty for us on the cross in order to rescue us.

Those who are rescued are thankful. When you are rescued you are exceedingly grateful. If the danger was critical you may thank the rescuer for the rest of your life. It is good to keep in mind the great danger we have been saved from and thank the One who went through that danger in order to get to us and save us.

Christ and Christians
The words Christ and Messiah are titles that mean the anointed one. Anointing was something done in the Old Testament era to induct someone into a position. Anointing was used for three different positions in the Old Testament: prophets, priests, and kings.

Jesus is the prophet of God, meaning He is the spokesman for the Father who represents the Father among the people. He left us with messages from God now recorded in scripture.
Jesus is the great High Priest. He represents the people before God through the sacrifice of Himself and He always lives to speak on their behalf to the Father (see Hebrews 7:25).
Jesus is the King of Kings. He defends and rules over His people.

Under Jesus as Christ we trust in the truth He has brought. We receive and rejoice in the sacrifice He has made for us. We take comfort in the fact that Jesus intercedes for us to the Father while even unbeknownst to us. We live under His kingdom, meaning His rule, as content and obedient subjects rejoicing that our Great King reigns.

God has graciously anointed all of us who are in Jesus Christ with His Spirit (see 1 John 2:20). Thus all of God's people are His prophets, priests, and kings.

Jesus has made us God's spokesmen while He is in heaven. We speak His true word and His good news. We represent God. As 1 John 4:17 says, "Just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world."
God has made all of His people priests. 1 Peter 2:9 says, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Jesus as High Priest performed the final sacrifice for sin. So Romans 12:1 tells us to, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of service." This means that we are to always trust God & cooperate with Him because we trust in His love for us.
We will rule with Jesus as kings in eternity. Revelation 5:10 says, "You have made them kings and priests to God; and they will reign upon the earth."

Lords and servants
Lords/Masters employ & command. The Lord Jesus Christ employs and commands His people to do His works of love.

Servants are employed, they are put to work, and they obey their master's commands. All of God's people are His servants. The word minister means servant and the word ministry means service. All those who trust Jesus Christ are His servants and He is their Lord. He commands us to trust Him and to love others. Jesus's death on the cross was not only a payment but also an investment. The investment was made so that those who come after Him should make His name known and do the things that He has done. Jesus loved people and spoke of the Father. We are to do the same.

The commands of God are summarized in love. Obeying a command isn't about the work done but the loved showed in doing the work. When you are hired to do a job and given an order to do something but you don't do it because, you don't feel like it or you fear it will be too hard or fear it will make you uncomfortable, you are being self-centered. You are not considering others thus you are not acting in love. Obeying Jesus Christ as Lord is about loving our Lord, loving His people, and loving the world. Obedience is not about keeping cumbersome commands that were written down and given by someone we don't know. The bible is not an impersonal instruction manual given to help us "live right." The bible is a personal love letter written by the greatest Lover who is infinitely gracious to teach us how to love.

The Way
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways superior to your ways And My thoughts superior to your thoughts"
God's ways are not our ways. This means God will do things we don't understand. But scripture also says that we are to learn to walk in His ways. We are to, as best as we can, let Him make His ways our ways. Psalms 25:4-5 says, "Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; on you I rely all day long."

In John 14:6, Jesus said that He is The Way. He is the only way that men might be saved. He is the only way for men to have a relationship with God. Only in Jesus Christ, The Way, can we know and walk in God's ways. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "We have the mind of Christ." All of God's ways are in The Way, Jesus Christ. We do still have our self-centered thoughts and ways but by walking in a loving relationship with Jesus we have God's thoughts as our thoughts and God's ways as our ways. If we walk in The Way, Jesus Christ we will walk in God's ways. Jesus isn't simply the way shower He is the Way. We are to let Him live & love through us.

The Truth

In John 14:6, Jesus also said that He is The Truth. If you refuse to accept and live according to truth you will not be able to function in life properly. Ignoring truth can cause us great hardship. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that driving a car is faster than walking so I never use a car. I would spend a lot of time walking. Life would be much harder for me. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that I need food to live. I would die. Imagine if I chose to refuse the truth that crime results in punishment and I committed crimes. I would still get punished for those crimes.

It is stupid to refuse truth. Refusing truth can result in hardship, punishment, and death. Additionally refusing truth can make you less effective, less productive, and less loving. It results in not living to your possible potential. Refusing The Truth, Jesus Christ can have all of these consequences and more. Refusing Jesus results in death, punishment, and a life that was truly no life at all. Ignoring Jesus as The Truth even after being saved has immense consequences. We not only go through unnecessary hardship but we miss out on the best things for us if we don't continue to trust in Jesus Christ as The Truth. If we do not trust Christ we refuse His help. If I refuse being parented, rescued, protected, taught, advised, and loved I don't trust those who are attempting to do these things for me. If I were fully convinced of a truth I would have no mistrust. Trusting in Jesus as The Truth is of the uttermost importance.

Teacher and disciples
A teacher gives instruction and informs us about the hows and whys of life. A disciple is a learner, someone who lives by another's teaching. Jesus said, "learn from me" (Matthew 11:29) & "If you continue in My word, then you are truly my disciples" (John 8:31). We are to be disciples of Jesus, The Truth. He is the Truth and the Teacher of truth.

A disciple of Christ is an understudy, a person who voluntarily places himself under (or “at the feet of”) Jesus, binding himself to Christ to learn from Him, to pursue His goals, to lovingly do the same things that Jesus did, to act, along with His other disciples, as a physical replacement for Christ on earth. Remember "Just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). We are also to be teachers as He was and turn others into His disciples by exemplifying His life and love and teaching the truth of His person. Jesus said in Luke 6:40, "A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher."

Vine and branches
Jesus said in John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who resides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

As a branch we are dependent on the vine. Without the vine the branch can do nothing. We can do no good apart from Jesus. Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, "God is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus. God is the reason that you are in Christ Jesus." Branches grow from the vine. The branch cannot exist on its own, it cannot grow itself. We cannot grow ourselves. We can only grow when we are in Christ, when we reside in Him. Have you ever seen a branch strain or strive to make fruit come out of itself? The vine naturally produces fruit. Jesus naturally produces our fruit of love, we simply must reside in Him.

The vine is dependent on the branch because that is where the fruit shows up. Jesus has chosen to be dependent on us to produce much of His visible fruit. When a vine has drawn more than it needs to live it bears fruit. God's fruit is the abundant, overflowing life of love which carries the seed of God's word. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." In our relationship with Jesus we need to draw on Him. We need to live on the infinite resources of Jesus Christ, our vine, so that we will go far beyond a personal survival mode where we get just enough life from Him to get through the day. We need to reside in Christ so we can bear fruit. Residing in Christ means to live in Him similar to how we would live in a house with a loved one. We relate and we rest because we feel secure.

Again, God's fruit is the abundant, overflowing life of love which carries the seed of God's word. When we reside in Christ we bear fruit. Have you ever seen a branch eat its own fruit? The fruit from the branch is for someone else! The vine multiplies itself by the fruit which has the seed in it. The seed is God's word. God's life is shown through us by love and truth. When this happens we "speak the truth in love" (see Ephesians 4:15) and our fruit is able to reproduce through loving and discipling others. God's original intention for mankind was for them to "be fruitful and multiply" (see Genesis 1:28). This is also the case for all the followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be fruitful in love and truth and use that fruit to multiply by loving and discipling others.

Jesus went on to say in John 15:8, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." We prove we are disciples of Jesus Christ by bearing fruit for others, by making disciples. This scripture itself testifies on how to make disciples. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "As you go make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in the name (character) of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to treasure everything I have commanded you." This includes the command to make disciples! Christians are supposed to disciple one another concerning how to love. This requires time and truth. Live for others and pour the truth of God into them! 

Groom and bride
The collective followers of Jesus are His bride and He is their groom. Spouses share love, affection, adoration, freedom of expression, mutual devotion, and all things with one another. One lives to please the other.

1 Peter 3:7 says, that husband and wife are equal partners or co-heirs in God’s gracious gift of new life. Romans 8:17 says, "Since we are his children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." We enjoy the same privileges that Jesus gets from His Father.

When you love your spouse do you love him or her to the extent that you do based on their position as your spouse, that is, because you have a marriage certificate? No, you love your spouse because of who you see him or her to be. It is full reality to you. You consider your spouse to be wonderful and you can't be convinced otherwise. God is the same way. He loves us based on who He sees us to be and what God sees is the ultimate reality. The Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:23) & Jesus loves us with that same unmeasurable love (John 15:9).

Colossians 3:3-4 says, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is your life". Christianity is not a way of life, it is not a lifestyle, it is not a special place and time, Christianity is Christ. Christ is our life. A child has no life without a father. A helpless person in danger has no life if not rescued. A branch has no life without the vine.

1 John 5:12 says, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 4:9 says, "God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him." Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." We live through Him because we can have no life otherwise. He lives through us as His chosen vessels saved from destruction to give His love to others.

Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness & trustworthiness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." He died so we wouldn't die. He lives so we can live and overflow His life into others. The meaning of life is life itself, life Himself, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The Lord will direct our hearts into the love of God and into the trueness of Christ.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5)

1 comment:

  1. Come to my site and promote your blog
    1. What is the name of your blog? House Church Connections in the Kingdom of God
    2. What is the url? http://www.housechurchconnections.com
    3. How long have you been blogging? About 2 years
    4. What is your blog about? I write about house church from the kingdom perspective. When we meet under a tree in the forest here in Colorado Springs, we call it Organic Church :)
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