“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.” Eph. 3:8-10, MSG
Someone asked me one time, “So, what difference does Jesus make in your life?” Back then, I really had to think about it, and I am not sure I gave her a definitive or even adequate answer.
I might have said, “I have joy.” Yet, I have a non-Christian friend who is one of the most joyful people I know. “I am kind.” I have a co-worker who radiates kindness to everyone she knows and meets. “I serve others.” My neighbor is a highly dedicated volunteer in our community. The reality is that some of the non-Christians in my life are more joyful, kinder, and selfless than some Christians I know. One can be independently good and do good things without Christ. Outward behavior cannot be the defining quality of our life with Jesus.
So, how would you answer the question, “What difference does Jesus make in your life?” Take a minute. Really. This could be a great Lenten moment.
If you said, “I have a relationship with Jesus,” that would be accurate enough.
But, could you succinctly describe to someone else what that relationship actually looks like? In what ways is this relationship a reality in your daily life, and why does it matter? Could you explain your relationship in a way that offers someone else an irresistible picture of a life with God?
There are limitless ways of defining what a relationship with Jesus looks like. The biblical narrative certainly records the intent, chaos, ebb and flow, beauty, heartache, and joy of humanity a relationship with God. I am sure you have your ideas and experiences as well. The worst we could do, however, is to present Jesus atheoretical, conceptual, or in an impersonal way and make our relationship with Jesus appear obligatory, superficial, and inconsequential.
May I offer my limited hopes of what a dialogue and description of a relationship with God might include?
Instead of speaking of a sense of rational certainty about God in your thinking or making a one-time decision for a future reality, or arranging for a little more blessing in your life, I hope you speak compellingly of entering into a real life with God who is alive, active, and integrated in the daily, unfolding realities of your life.
I hope you speak of a way of living that is open and receptive to God’s gracious activity that is taking place within you and is charged with hope. (Eugene Peterson notes that God’s action in us is the most distinctive thing about us. As Kingfishers Catch Fire, 53.)
I hope you speak that at the center of your life lies the living person of Jesus Christ who dwells in you by faith.
I hope you speak of being invited into a greater, unfolding Story than your own and being swept up into a life of adventure, messiness, wonder, pain, mystery, meaning, and redemption.
I hope you speak of truly knowing God and being wholly known and deeply loved by him.
I hope you make Jesus, by your life and your way of being, so irresistible, that you offer an alternative Story to a skeptical culture, that invites them to see beyond their closed and temporal reality and touches on their human longing for something real, sacred, and beyond, and offers the possibility of making a holy connection with the same God who shapes and defines your life.
How do you feel about your definition of your relationship with God?
What feels awkward or incomplete? What feels authentic and inviting?
How could you rewrite your explanation or what would you leave the same?