Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Does Jesus Make A Difference

Are we any better as a person with Jesus than we are without him? Christianity is not about knowledge; it is about relationship. Knowledge about Jesus is important but it amounts to nothing without relationship. It is the relationship that defines everything.

This is not a relationship like you have with a friend. Jesus said that he wants to be one with us. As he is one with the Father he longs to be one with us. He wants to be so intimate with us that he has chosen to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit. That is the most intimate relationship in our life. It makes intimacy possible but not if we don't understand, don't desire or decide to do our own thing.

This intimacy that Jesus desires does not leave us the same. It changes us so that we become like him; in obedience, in power, in compassion. We cannot be in Jesus and Jesus in us and remain the same. And therein lies the problem.

Too many of us are trying to conform ourselves on the outside with no real change on the inside. Before there can be any conformity of behaviour there has to be an internal transformation provoked by the intimate relationship we have with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. It is not something we can fake.

I always consider the outward expression of Jesus' love to be sign posts in our lives that we are on the right track. If they aren't there it means something is wrong with the relationship. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the Christian we discover the uniqueness of Yahweh's heart: Look at this from Leviticus of all places:

"If one of your fellow Israelites faces financial difficulty and is in a shaky situation with you, you must assist them as you would an immigrant or foreign guest so that they can survive among you. Do not take interest from them, or any kind of profit from interest, but fear your God so that your fellow Israelite can survive among you. Do not lend a poor Israelite money with interest or lend food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt to give you Canaan's land and to be your God." (Leviticus 25:35-38)

Compassion, generosity, kindness, concern, love are all great parts of our Yahweh's character. Jesus taught and demonstrated this to an even greater depth. Just consider this simple command to those who would call themselves disciples of Jesus:

"I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other." (John 13:34-35)

That sets the bar pretty high because we all know how Jesus loved us. Don't downplay this. Study and understand what Jesus commanded us and the example he set by loving us to the depth he went. This makes it a legitimate question to ask ourselves: Are we any better as a person with Jesus than we are without him? Do we know what it is to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord with that same love? Do we know how to reach out and heal the broken people of this world with the same compassion and power?

If you can live the same way with Jesus as you did without him there is a problem with the relationship. You should look into that today.

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