Intimacy with God
On Wednesday nights I have the privilege of teaching our “Christian to the Core” class. In this class, we’re exploring 8 core values that are essential in the lives of disciples of Jesus Christ. The first value, which is foundational for all others, is “Intimacy with God”: Disciples live life from an intimate relationship with God.
As I was preparing for the class, I stumbled upon this illustration a friend posted on twitter a while back–an illustration that captures our relationship with God in a very clear way.
Notice some key elements in this illustration:
1. God’s grace and the cross of Jesus Christ are at the center of the illustration. God’s grace–the unearned, undeserved, unrepayable gift of God’s love revealed to us in Jesus Christ–is the center of the Christian life and an intimate relationship with God. We can’t grow spiritually without God’s grace, which draws us to him, puts us in a right relationship with him, and enables us to grow in holiness.
2. As we encounter God’s grace, the proper response is faith–trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Even so, faith isn’t a one time thing. We’re called to have faith all the time and to strengthen it. We strengthen our faith as we participate in the “means of grace.” “Means of grace” are actions, sometimes called spiritual disciplines, through which God makes himself known to us. Prayer, Bible study, community with other Christians, sacraments, worship, service, fasting, and financial giving are just a few of these “means” by which God’s grace enters deep into our hearts.
3. Growth in intimacy with God involves overcoming obstacles that we encounter on a regular basis. Unconfessed sin in our lives causes us to turn away from God and seek to distance ourselves from Him and others. Our failure to prioritize our relationship with God can lead to a superficial and shallow relationship. And placing ourselves in situations that discourage, instead of encourage, faith can also prove challenging. They key to overcoming all of these obstacles is participating in the “means of grace” where our faith in Jesus Christ can be strengthened.
4. God’s grace flows from us to others. As recipients of the wonderful gift of God’s grace, we’re called to share it with others. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in this world showing and telling others of God’s great saving love. Sometimes this means giving people who are hungry food, like we do through The Pantry. Other times this means telling our friends how our faith in Jesus Christ helps sustain us during difficult situations. Still other times, this means being a friend who loves others unconditionally just like Jesus Christ loves us.
Where are you in your relationship with God? Is it as intimate as the relationship you have with your best friend or spouse?
Regardless of how you answered above, are you ready and willing to go deeper?
If so, recognize the great gift of God’s grace that He wants to give to you, identify the obstacles to God’s grace in your life, and begin practicing some of the “means of grace” discussed above. But a quick warning–do all of this only if you’re ready and willing to be transformed!
To learn more about God’s grace and practices that God uses to transform our souls, then check a great new book called “Awakening Grace.”