Eternal Life Now
I am come that they may have life and have it abundantly. ((John 10:10)
The essence of eternal life is for you to personally know God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. Knowing God does not come through a program, a study, or a method. It is the result of a vibrant, growing, one-on-one relationship with God. Within this intimate connection, God will reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways so you can know Him in deeper and profound dimensions. As you relate to Him, God will invite you to join in His activity where He is already at work. When you obey what God tells you, He will accomplish through you things only He can do. As the Lord works in and through your life, you will come to know Him ever more closely.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”(John 10:10) Would you like to experience life in its fullest and richest dimensions? You may if you are willing to respond to God’s invitation to enjoy an intimate love relationship with Him.
Anything of spiritual significance that happens in your life will be a result of Gods activity in you. He is infinitely more concerned with your life and your relationship with Him than you or I could possibly be. Let God’s Spirit bring you into an intimate relationship with the Lord of the universe “who is able to do above and beyond sallows that we ask or think- according to the power that works in you”. (Ephesians 3:20)
Would you pray and surrender your life to God so He may guide and instruct you in any way He pleases? As you prepare to obey Him, trust that God who has already begun a good work in you will complete it in His time(Philippians 1:6)
So say Henry and Richard Blackaby.
It is evident that we are living in a changed world. Nothing is the same as it was in early March. At that time we were going to work, the grocery store, visiting family and friends and attending church. Now all of these things have changed. As we hear reports we discover every day that everything is still fluid. In any case the old world and old ways are forever changed. The question is how do we find some sort of stability in a constant changing environment? Someone has said the only constant is change. I want to add to that that the only absolute constant is God. He alone has remained constant and consistent throughout every change that has occurred and continues to be so.
In Jesus’ day the religious were so locked into their norms of ritual and formality that they not only rejected this new dimension of relationship between God and man that Jesus brought but went so far at to try to destroy it and its author. They had developed their systems and the systems were more important than the people and their need to be connected with God. The problem with religious systems is that they do not have the capacity to flex with change. History is replete with examples of the resistance of these systems to change. The Puritans who came to Massachusetts in order to escape religious persecution soon began to persecute those who worshipped differently and banned Roger Williams who founded Rhode Island. In the early 1900’s Methodists who had been persecuted and actually were given the name for their strange “methods” excommunicated the Pentecostals with their new ways of ecstatic worship that included tongues and shouting. Brethren fled Germany so that they might practice Triune Adult Baptism without persecution.
We are going to be challenged in the days ahead to sort genuine worship and relationship with God from religious ritual that has its roots in humans and human habits. Every relationship, such as marriage for example, goes through stages and change. If that relationship cannot flex with change it ceases. If, for instance, you were to expect your spouse to never get older, get gray, or lose their 18 year old figure, you’re in for a surprise. In the same way, if you expect church to remain the same and your relationship with God contingent on tradition, you are in for a surprise.
As our bodies grow and change, so must our relationships grow and change. All truth is parallel. What is true in the natural is true in the spiritual. The external us is constantly growing and changing, but we are still us. Likewise, how we respond relationally to God and others must grow and change, but we are still us.
The beauty of relationship, especially the one with a God, is that it has the capacity to change without a minuscule of loss to the connection.
As we enter the new norms of life, especially church life, I urge us to focus on relationship instead of ritual. I have no idea what the future church gathering will look like. Whether we will ever go back to the old norm is doubtful. Our worship experiences and practices have been changed, at least for the foreseeable future. Certain activities/rituals will have to either radically transform or we must find creative ways to experience them. Most activities that include contact will have to change. The huge challenge for the church is that a vast majority of our ritual is based on personal touch. As I write this I think about things like Worship Service, Love Feast, Communion, Anointing, fellowship time, passing offering plates, bulletins, personal visits, Christian Education and choir. Each of these requires to some degree close personal contact. Maybe at some point in the future this won’t be an issue, but right now these are being restricted. Since relationships are built around ritual, we must ask how do we continue to grow the relationship if we can’t practice the old norms? I don’t know. What I do know is that this moment is a defining moment for us as the people of God.
I simply remind us of the words of Jesus, “I am come that they may have life and life more abundantly.
I must confess, I am looking forward with anticipation and excitement for the glorious future church that is rising from the ashes of the crisis. I invite you to join me for that future. What’s it going to look like? I don’t know, but I know who’s building it and everything He’s built is beyond description.
Dr. John Thompson