Developing Our Relationship With God-Respond
This is the last lesson in the series Responding to the Call. In the previous blogs, I have discussed some keys to unlock a deeper, intimate relationship with God. Remember, I am providing this information as a guide. Your relationship with God is your responsibility. I hope to be a tool to assist you on the path.
Responding to God's call in our lives requires a relationship. Any valuable, trustworthy relationship requires ingredients that foster intimacy and trust. I have discussed communication and submission. Today let us look at responding.
Thoughts that come to mind when discussing responding is the perspective of the recipient of Christ's healing. Have you ever wondered about why Christ healed people? I have come to understand that the healing was a bridge to a relationship. The act of healing was not to put a band aid on a booboo or cure to a disease, it provided evidence of the truth of the identity of Christ and His presence on earth.
Let us go back to the perspective of the recipient of the healing. Imagine, you are blind, unable to see anything but darkness. You are out and about one day and you hear a commotion. Your senses tell you that there is a crowd or maybe something is happening, you are identified out of the crowd not because of anything you have done, but Christ sees an opportunity to make an example of Himself in you. You sense His presence as He comes closer. You smell Him, you hear His voice, and feel Him as He applies clay upon your eyes made from the dust of the ground and His spittle. There is no drawn out introduction of who He is, He just says to you to go wash and return and see me (John 9). Can you imagine the man who was in a world of darkness and now sees light and the first image he sees in the light is Christ. The man responded to his new gift of sight with such excitement, he ran through the crowd not identifying himself, but the one who gave him sight. Do you think that man ever forgot that life changing transformation? I doubt it. I would think that this man not only identified Christ as the savior immediately, but was transformed to a new being not locked in tradition or religious philosophy, but experienced the reality of Christ and freedom of sight. His transformation did not come without criticism. The Pharisees of the day questioned what happened. Why? They were bound by law, or steeped tradition of doing "church".
The blind man responded to what Christ called on him to do, to testify of the presence of the Messiah. What a wonderful call, or wake up call. How are you or I to respond to the call?Let us look at the scripture for guidance.
Let us take a look at the book of John. John was a fisherman. Many critics have looked at the book of John as lacking credit because the book is written in John's own words or personal experience. In the early church, the book was accepted but later received much criticism by scholars because it lacks "traditional" authority. Well, under who's authority would John have written? Of course there will be reflection of man in the midst of the discussion through Johns experience, but, it should not be held in contempt to the integrity of the scripture just because of that trait.
John writes about how the disciples grew closer to Christ and to the understanding of their call when Christ prepared for His departure from this earth and ascended into heaven. In John 14:9 John writes about Phillips questioning the presence of the resurrected Christ. In His dismay, Christ asked Phillip why he needed evidence, he should recognize Him after all the time they spent together. This leads me to think, are we so steeped in tradition in the American church that you are I might asked of Christ, prove yourself? Should I not have such a relationship with Him that I would recognize Him with my eyes shut, so sensitive to His presence that my inner most being would recognize Him immediately without asking for His credentials first? Of course. Christ explained that not only should my presence give sufficient evidence of His reality, but the works or fruit should provide the evidence of His reality, or presence. That is how Christ identifies His existence in you or I, not by the words we might say, that can lead to false witnessing, but the fruit that identifies, or gives overwhelming evidence of His presence in us. I must make myself available to Him. I make myself available by drawing closer to Him, not tradition of man. John gives explicit description of Christ warning to His disciples at the time of His departure from earth. In John 16, that He must go so that the Holy Spirit can come and lead them and that they learn to communicate with Christ not in the flesh as they have come accustomed with, but through the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine, when Christ ascended and went out of sight, the fear that overcame the disciples? Think of it, they are looking up into the sky and Christ is gone from sight. They look up into the sky in dismay, slowly bring their focus back to earth, look at each other and say, " Now what?". Who led the way? Well we learn later in the gospel that they did see Christ again through the Holy Spirit.
After Pentecost or descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples bore fruit. I must not lean on my own understanding, but that of the Holy Spirit obtained through a mature relationship with Christ. In John 15:16 the LORD tells us that we are chosen by Him to go an bear fruit, lasting fruit that after digesting, provides proper nutrition quenching the hunger of a lost people sustaining strength not provided by substituted means but supernatural means. How is your strength obtained or even sustained?
One "fruit" if you will is love. Not love defined by man, but defined by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In John 13:34, 35, Christ states that Love would identify His disciples to the rest of the world. Love as He loved us, unconditionally. This does not mean without accountability, but love not self serving. Read 1 Peter 3:18.
Responding to the call requires a release of self will and a surrender to God's will. We can understand that by following Christ's example and the example provided through many starting with the first disciples. Let us not put to shame their work by restricting "godliness" or righteousness to the defining characteristics of tradition but freedom in lives surrendered in response to the word of God, Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.