I quite like this old Jonny Cash song (and the depeche mode version)…
The idea of a personal relationship with God is something central to much preaching in the Western Church, but I want to tonight look for some of the biblical basis for behind this idea of a personal relationship with Jesus.
So lets look at the whole topic of relationship with Christ…
It is an amazing claim of Scripture that we mere human beings, can not just know ABOUT God but actually KNOW him.
Lets think about this for a minute, just try and get our heads around who God is, I AM WHO I AM…
How can we approach God? Surely he’s too big and powerful for us to cope with him “and all his glory” (as Joan Osbourne observed in her song, what if God was one of us)… And yet this mighty God stoops his ear through out the Old and the New Testament to his people (just listen to God and Abra(h)am wrestle over the destruction of Sodam).
Yet our God is Holy, our all seeing God knows us at our worst, seen the bits of our character we try to shield from the world, and yet still loves us… but how can we approach this God?After all, he lives in unapproachable light, his Holiness is so pure that it can’t be compromised or contaminated surely?
Yet we are able to approach his throne of grace with boldness?
Because this awesome, and almighty God, left his throne in heaven and came to earth, pitched his tent amongst us, lived, suffered, died but rose again from dead, and opened the way to the Father.
We have a God who knows what is means to be human.
We couldn’t approach God, but praise God, he approached us.
We couldn’t become Holy, so he became sin -taking all its backbreaking hideousness upon his pure shoulders- even though he had done nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong, he took our punishment, so we could get his reward.
We can have a personal relationship with our creator, because our creator choose to have a personal relationship with his creation.
Relationship is at the heart of who God, he lives in trinity, he exists in community, perfect and fully sufficient community, yet out of his overflow of love he wanted relationship with a people he could call his own.
We as human beings were created for a relationship with God.
We as human beings were redeemed for a relationship with God.
We as human beings have been given the Holy Spirit (or he’s on offer to all people) so we can have a relationship with God.
At the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation the image used is of a wedding feast, the idea of a perfect loving union being celebrated, the ultimate relationship is the wedding of Christ and his Church, the Bride and the lamb.
The image used in Revelation is the Risen Christ saying “Behold I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him” -the idea of table fellowship is the highest form of human interaction and welcome in the Jewish culture, to share and break bread with someone was sacred and sacramental.
This relationship, is a real relationship, after all we have a God who know what it is like to be human, he’s not remote or distant and we don’t have to be either, flick through books of the Bible like Psalms or perhaps even Song of Song and realize that God does not want a polite functional, stand offish relationship with us, but a full, loving relationship with us where we share our entire lives with him.
I remember once re-writing the Parable of the Lost Son, where he came back and refused to come into the house of his father, instead he lived in the shed and ate compost, whilst night after night his Father begged him to come into the family home…
Tonight, lets re-think what it means for us, personally, to have a relationship with God… And ask the question, are we settling for the relationship he wants to have with each one of us.
I’ll leave us with Paul’s prayer for the Church in Ephesus.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come…
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.