Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want!

What do we want out of a relationship with Jesus? Probably some security and assurance in our life; assurance that everything is going to be okay. Love would most definitely be at the top of the list; the unconditional kind. We could throw in acceptance for who we are, forgiveness, and understanding. If we get to the heart of it we are probably looking for the perfect life, all our wants fulfilled, to be able to do our thing with God's approval, to have all our mistakes fixed. The bottom line can probably be summed up in the word "freedom".

What do we think God wants out of a relationship with us? I think love would be at the top of the list. After all we are told that to love God with our entire being is the greatest commandment. Obedience would also be in the top five. Jesus went on a lot about this with his disciples during his last days with them."If you love me you will obey what I have taught." I would think fellowship with us along with adoration and worship from us must be his desire as well. But I think the fellowship is a greater thing than we realize because Jesus spoke a lot about "oneness" with him; him being in us and us being in him.

One of the big questions I get a lot is: How do we know we are where we are suppose to be with God? The answer to this is rather simple and we find it in Galatians 5:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)

There is a life-time of study and teaching surrounding this but let me simply say that when you are where you are suppose to be in your relationship with Jesus, the Spirit is able to produce these things in your life, not just for your benefit but for everyone who is in your sphere of influence. This is the character of Jesus and when you are one with him it is your character as well. Any disturbance in this relationship will affect this character.

There is no mystery behind what kind of relationship Jesus wants with us. In John 15 Jesus tells us that we are to him what a branch is to a vine. We are absolutely dependent on him. We are part of him, one with him, receiving everything we need from him, being nourished by him and having fruit growing on us because of what he supplies to us:

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:4)

Notice the fruit again. A right relationship with Jesus produces things; it is impossible not to. We don't produce it, the vine does through the branches and the branches only bear the fruit. That's us, the fruit bearers. But we need to understand that our God is not an object we worship at a distance but instead he desires an intimate oneness relationship:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20-21)

This is made possible through the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-21) which is another life-time of study and teaching.

This oneness with Jesus is God's great desire for us and, I believe, deep within ourselves, is our desire as well. But this oneness with Christ is disturbed when we get out of step with the Spirit. We desire something contrary to the will of God; could be a relationship, job, possessions, goals. We lose our focus and our motivation changes so what we do no longer has its purpose centered on Jesus. We begin to concentrate on ourselves, on our needs, wants and desires, making ourselves the center of our lives instead of others and God.

We know this but we are seldom honest enough with ourselves to accept the correct the Spirit brings. We know we are wrong because we start noticing the lack of fruit; our peace disappears, sleep is disturbed, our quality of love changes, our joy dries up. We see this but come up with all kinds of excuses of why things are like this, such as "I'm tired or "It's someone else's fault". The fact is, we are in the wrong condition to be one with Jesus. We need to examine ourselves, look at what we are doing, and make changes to get back into the proper relationship with Jesus. After all, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Jesus should be our entire focus and everything else will then fall in place. What do we want out of a relationship with Jesus?

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