'What we love usually manages to get into our conversation. What is down in the well of the heart will come up in the bucket of the speech' [Vance Havner]

And this is Christmas

in Knowing God

One of our family’s favourite musicians is Steven Curtis Chapman. A few years ago we were able to take our family to one of his concerts in Brisbane. We arrived (very) early to be one of the first groups in the queue, managed to keep our (then) young kids occupied during the nearly two hours of waiting, and then were rewarded for our patience by getting seats close to the front. Brilliant. But also slightly loud. We should have realised this when a security guard brought over some ear plugs before the concert started, saying “the kids would probably need these”.

Anyway, after a few of SCC’s songs I turned to one of my sons and asked (well, shouted really) “How is it?” – he turned to me with a wide-eyed look in his eyes and replied at the top of his voice “It is awesome!”. And the concert only got better after that….

One of Steven Curtis Chapman’s previous Cds was “All about love”, a collection of songs mainly about the love he has for his wife and family. One song on that CD is called “11-6-64”. Apart from making sure every listener now knows his wife’s birth date (!!), the basic premise of the song is that on that day his wife was born, something changed. Even though he didn’t yet know her and wasn’t to meet her for many years, her birth was in effect the very beginning of their relationship. The day that their relationship, their marriage, became possible.

As this Christmas approaches I realise that we can think of Jesus’ birth in the same way – the day that our relationship with God started to become a possibility.

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We know that God is love, and I’ve heard it said that the Bible is a story of God’s love towards us. Yet in some way thinking about God’s love doesn’t give the full picture. God doesn’t just love us, He also wants that love to be returned. To have a relationship with us. He wants us to know Him. To have a relationship that is two sided.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

There are so many times when even the idea of having a relationship with God just blows me away. I only have to go outside at night (usually while taking out the rubbish bins) and look up at the sky and see the stars. And realise that God made each one of those. In a day. And that we can only see a tiny proportion of the stars throughout the universe.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:25-26)

This same God created each one of us. God thought not just about our overall bodies, but giving great attention to the smallest detail of each cell in our body, the incredible complexity of the DNA sequences. And creation is like we are just seeing the fingerprints of God – and even that causes us to bow down and worship. Our God is surely a great and awesome God.

And this God wants a relationship with me?

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Realising this tends to change my perspective of Christianity. Rather than talking about forgiveness our sin and repentance as the main outcome, Christianity becomes much more than that. There is a much more exciting goal. Its like we are carrying around a big backpack and see a narrow doorway in the distance. Are we reluctant to enter the doorway because of leaving behind the backpack? Or do we get so excited about what is behind the doorway that suddenly the backpack isn’t important?

The Apostle Paul recognised this when he said

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philipians 3:8).

Whatever “backpack” Paul was carrying around before his amazing conversion, he didn’t mind losing it all for the goal of knowing his Lord.

Rather than prayer and bible reading being a duty of being a Christian, or a way to be a “better” Christian, they are instead the way we can develop our relationship with God. We can learn about God’s character through the Bible, read about the experiences of other people who have met with God and been totally transformed in the process. People like Moses who went from a murderer to someone who needed to cover his face because he reflected the glory of God.

Do we treat prayer simply as a shopping list, a series of requests? Or do we realise that prayer is talking to God, meeting with God, and enjoying being in His presence. Building a relationship with God. As Mark Hall, the lead singer of Casting Crowns, suggests, “God doesn’t need us, but He does want us”. He wants us to meet with Him…. not just for five minutes in the midst of our busy schedule, but to take time and “Be Still and know that I am God”.

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One of the exciting things about a relationship with God is the effect it has on others. The more we meet with God, the more we have our eyes on God rather than ourselves, we cannot help but be changed. Other people will notice the change, a change that is genuine. As God fills us with His love, then that love will naturally overflow to others.

As I heard someone say recently, rather than trying to love your neighbour, learn to love God first and then we can’t help but to love our neighbours. The more we build a relationship with God, the more genuine our witness, and our impact on the community, will be.

However the most amazing thing about a relationship with God is that it will go on forever. I will never cease to learn something new and exciting about God. For eternity. This is not like going to a seminar, a workshop on getting to know God. This is something I can look forward to each day for the rest of my life. And further.

Its like I’m starting to read a new book that I know has received great reviews. I’m already engrossed while reading the first page, and I know its going to get much better. God will never change, His presence doesn’t depend on the mood I am in, or even the material things of this earth. God is someone who I can trust. Completely.

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And all this is possible because of Christmas. Christmas happened because God wanted a relationship with us so much He sent His only Son. Knowing full well what that would involve. The brutality, the agony of the cross. The (temporary) separation between God and His Son. And yet knowing all this would happen, God decided it was worth it. To have a relationship with us.

Incredible……

Let’s be excited about what Christmas represents. The opportunity for us to have an incredible relationship with our great and awesome God and to walk on this journey with Him. And realise that God wants us to meet with Him, to play our role in this relationship.

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Other links:
Your invitation
Knowing God
Our priorities
Trusting God
Worship of God
From bended knees




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