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All is changed through a personal relationship with Jesus

One of the prayers I have for my sons is that Jesus will become relevant in their everyday lives. I don’t want them to just trust in him to get to heaven or call upon him when they are in a crisis situation, but that they will develop a deep, intimate, personal relationship with him.
That is the case of what happened with someone I’ll call “Chris.” Chris recalls he grew up like so many other young people in Holmes County, “being saved and knowing I’m going to heaven but not knowing what I’m saved from.” I like to term this “saved and stuck,” and it isn’t just specific to our area.
Chris did all the right things on the outside — went to church, followed the rules, tried to be nice to people — but on the inside there was an internal war raging. He struggled with anger, lust and other sins he kept hidden behind closed doors. He thought he was just going to have to spend his whole life struggling with sin. He was thankful he would get to go to heaven someday, but he didn’t see the relevancy of Jesus in the here and now to help him out of his sin.
When he was only 19, he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Something changed in him in that day. Although he still struggled with sin, he felt different, a kind of different that can’t be explained with mere words.
Shortly after he was challenged by someone to read the whole Bible in a year, and he took the challenge. He wasn’t doing it to try to earn brownie points with God, but he was diligently reading, hungry to know more. The more he read, the more the word began to change him. His fruit wasn’t immediately manifested, but he knew inside he was changing.
When he got to the book of Acts, he was blown away, coming away from it with more questions than answers. He questioned why he wasn’t doing the things the apostles did or living a powerful life like them. Either those things they did were merely for them and had passed away, or he was missing it somewhere. He truly believed he was just missing it and began searching for the truth to enlighten him.
One of his friends sent him a podcast from a preacher named Todd White. After 15 minutes of listening, he was flat on his face, bawling like a baby. All those years he felt God was fuming mad at him every time he sinned, ready to smite him down, and to hear that God wasn’t mad at him but was crying out for him, telling him there is so much more, created a dynamic change on the inside. It caused him to intimately pursue God because the fear of rejection and punishment was now gone.
Chris finally saw what the relevancy of Jesus looked like in the life of a Christian when he heard and saw Todd White. He had been searching for lives that mirrored the apostles’ lives in the here and now. He wasn’t just saying truths but was living it out, preaching the love of God and healing people as he went. This, to Chris, was true Christianity. This was what he was searching for.
The final icing on the cake for him was discovered while reading John 17:3: “And this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
He had always heard and thought of eternal life as getting to go to heaven when he died, but he discovered it is so much more than that. Eternal life is about knowing Jesus here on earth in a deep, personal way, not just knowing with our heads but with our hearts as well. It is about having a relationship that is not based on our performance but on what he did for us and his incredible love for us.
Chris has learned through all this that Jesus desires for us to receive his love, and he has grown to be able to receive that love in his own life in a personal and life-transforming way. Jesus is the express image of God, and so instead of believing God was putting sickness on us to teach us, he could see from the life of Jesus that he healed all that came to him. That was God’s will.
In seeing the life of Jesus and becoming deeply acquainted with him, Chris’s view shifted from an angry God to a loving and gracious daddy. Oh, and remember that sin he struggled with? Receiving God’s love and grace has broken those chains and made him a free man. Praise the Lord.
Amber can be reached at amberdeemiller32@gmail.com">amberdeemiller32@gmail.com and through her AmberRiceMiller Facebook page.

Published: October 23, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171019868