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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Knowing Jesus, Part 1

 11/30/09: I’ve been a Christian for 18 years, longer if my first salvation prayer accessed the reservoir of eternal life from God’s free gift. Thing is, my whole Christian life has been plagued with doubt, mostly because I know my own shortcomings. But also due to comparing myself to other Christians I know. Over those 18 years, I've met some extraordinary Christian brothers and sisters…people who, quite honestly glowed in the dark. But I wondered, do they really know Jesus like they say they do? Some of these great people spoke of Jesus like I would speak  of a best friend--as if they had frequent, actual contact.

So, long story short, I wonder about this whole Knowing Jesus thing. How do we know God? I can’t see him, I can’t feel him, I can’t hear his voice—I know some good brothers and sisters seem to have more intimacy with him. I just don’t know. Are all these other people liars? Are they misinterpreting their experiences? Is knowing Jesus a psychosomatic phenomena? Or, can we actually know Jesus like our best friend? There has to be a difference in the relationship--He is God. He is invisible to us now. But I wonder, am I missing something still?

So, how can I know Jesus? I pray sometimes…not as often as I should. But sometimes, when I pray, I feel like a stranger looking around in a big empty house. Anyone there? Hello? My words seem to bounce off the ceiling.

I don’t blame God, though sometimes I’m arrogant enough to do so, but I still just don’t seem to get to know Him through prayer.

Well, there’s one place I’m confident his word exists: the Bible, esp. the gospels. So, I’m going to reread all of them, but with a different approach. I’m reading to get to know Jesus, and for no other reason. Lord God, I am a broken, messed up, confused, and sinful man. If you may be known, let me know you. And please know me and remember me when I die and stand before God. I would wither without you. Amen.

Official disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert in Biblical matters. My theology might be stronger than some, weaker than others. I'm not attempting to teach anything to anyone. I'm just hoping to share the experience of getting to know Jesus. I welcome all feedback.

Matthew 3: 13-17

The Baptism of Jesus
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

15Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

This is the first scene in the NT where Jesus comes before the camera and speaks. John has been waiting for the Messiah, waiting for Jesus to come, but not waiting to baptize Jesus. John knows just who this is, he’s already reckoned himself unfit to tie Jesus’ sandals. John was blown away by Jesus coming to be baptized. In fact, John tried to deter Jesus. His motives were pure, but he was objecting to something he didn’t understand. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? How many criticisms of God are just that way? How many times have I growled at God as if there’s one thing in this universe I might actually know better than the Almighty?

But this isn’t about me. Back to Jesus. How does the Messiah, God in the flesh, respond to John? Gently, but with clear perspective. Let it be so now; it is proper—ie: in God’s plan, this is the right thing to do and will “fulfill all righteousness.” To John, it’s preposterous that he, a mere man, should baptize the Lord. But to Jesus, it was just as it should be. From this passage I get to know Jesus a little bit; I get a foggy window into His mind. Even from the beginning, Jesus had the plans of God on His mind.


everlastingscribe said...

Keep digging, Wayne. Push in hard, lay into the traces and pull!

Even those of us that have had phenomenal supernatural experiences, doubt. How do I know? Because I'm one of them. Most of the friendship I have with Christ, is because of what is in Scripture, not because of 'feelings' or 'experiences'. Because senses can lie, and my heart can be fooled. But Scripture is immovable, unchanging, and it is the truth. It is my refuge where I go and hide on days where my mind is so whipped into chaos I can hardly think straight.

Dig deep into the Scriptures, press them hard, and know that while you are doing so, you aren't alone. I'm in there digging and pressing and searching and longing for Jesus too. And so are thousands upon thousands of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

;) I suppose you could say, you're Never Alone, in this quest for Him.

Mackenzie said...

I've been going through something similar lately. Finally wanting to get to know my Savior more intimately, and not just knowing He's there. With me though, sometimes I step back, becuase I'm scared that I might just be hearing myself, and not God. (though the times I've been sure it's God have been really awesome!)

I'll pray he speaks to you, me, and all the rest of us seeking His face. God Bless, and can;t wait to read more posts.

Storyteller said...

Desiring to know Him is the first step to doing it! I am thrilled to hear that you want to draw nearer to Him. And I will be praying for you.

Thank you for sharing this with us. It is encouraging to hear of others pursuing God with their whole heart, something that I need to do more often.

Violinist4Christ said...

Knowing God is a never ending journey... I think it should be our aim to know Him more than we did the previous day. I think it definitely takes humility to get to know Him - admitting that we don't know everything, but that we're willing to spend time with Him to know Him more. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:7-8)

I've been reading a non-fiction book about knowing God more. It's called, "Hello My Name Is God," by Jeremy Pearsons (Kenneth Copeland's grandson, if that helps any). It's been really eye-opening so far. The author starts with the basics about God - and I like that because sometimes we need to be reminded about the basics and we can get a fresh revelation from them. It's a good help so far, in addition to my own study in the Word.

Blessings - praying for you!

Justin B. said...

I sought out God for the past seven or eight years of my life, during the times when my self was encamped in darkness. Even though I had one miraculous moment that ultimately led me to confess my heart and accept God within my heart. I'm still the crippled, emaciated man that ambles about, searching feverishly for concrete proof of God's existence and promise of eternity.

Doubts awash within me all at times during the day and sometimes those doubts triggered intense fear and dread. Those singular fears about God not existing or my salvation being invalidated causes extreme panic within myself. In order to relieve that panic, I attempt to manipulate my surroundings enabling me to gain some sense of control of my world.

I apologize if none of this makes any sense, especially the last paragraph. I only began typing this a half hour after waking up. And I'm still waiting for the caffeine to react and give me some much needed energy.

Even without the caffeine, describing my faith struggle with relation to my OCD is challenging. My mind's shaped much like Jenga and instead of leaving the plastic casing on the blocks, as God had intended. I slip the plastic case off immediately since I hardly trust God. Without God, I'm always attempting to maintain equilibrium within my life by controlling my thoughts, fears, and obsessively cleaning my surroundings, and avoiding any circumstances that may trigger unwanted anxiety.

Inevitably, the blocks topple over because no human being can maintain their own weight, even with a crutch. Yet, the plastic casing that had been placed on the Jenga block's before seems to have vanished. My personal struggle in of itself is related to trust problems with God. I feel that with the pain and abuse of my past, and the foreknowledge of have of the hidden agendas of God's people; I cannot permit God (the plastic casing) to be tucked neatly back around the Jenga blocks.

Please, I encourage you to keep posting subsequent blog posts relating to your struggle of knowing Jesus. This post really spoke to me and I hope that with your doubts,you can possibly help lead others into aiding within your search as well. Maybe, one of the greatest truths gained through these blog posts are the number of followers who have similar fears and doubts about God. Even though some of us respond in differing ways, based on our predispositions to certain disorders.

This post was quite lengthy and hopefully it's at least understandable. The disjointed nature of this comment could very well confuse any readers. And again, it's very hard for me to distinguish the real core of my fears because my thought process is a maelstrom.

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

I too have had some . . supernatural experiences. Many times, actually. And yet, somehow it never helped me overcome my doubt.
I have never doubted that God is there, that Jesus died for us. That is certain. I doubt myself. I wonder, if truly, at the very bottom of my heart, I am not who I think I am. That perhaps, I really haven't been saved yet.
I like to blame this on the fact that I became a Christian at very young age, too young to have any idea when, where, or how it happened.
Anyone else have his problem?

ElizabethMarieKauffman said...

I know that feeling. I often feel it as well. The truth is, we can't feel him, we can't see him. Although some people have been blessed with the ability to receive glances of His glory, and sometimes I imagine that the breeze I feel against my skin is His arms wrapping around me and pulling me close to Him, while the sound of it rustling through the trees is Him whispering to me that He loves me.
But most of the time you can't have those times when you almost feel you can hear His voice. And like you said, it's like your prayers bounce right back to you. But what I've come to realize, is it's not whether we feel Him or not, it's that we KNOW He's there, because He promises to always be with us, and that we have faith that He's going to fulfill that promise. And if you hold onto that, eventually the darkness and doubt fades into hope, and you can feel Him once more.
Often, when I feel like I can't feel God, and He's not there. I find that the best thing for me to do, is go and spend some time walking through the nature which He created for us. I'll watch the sunrise, and worship Him for it, or just lay in the grass and listen to the birds sing. All the while, praising God and thinking of these things as His gifts to me. As His love offering to His child. :)

Assr vísa ykkarr or∂.


NatetheGreat said...

I really belive God is real. I dont have really any doubts on that point. I'ts the whole forgiveness thing that messes me up. THere are so many times that i confess stuff to God, and i dont really feel forgiven! I know god loves me, and i try to be as open as i can, but its really hard to tell for me. He has healed me of past sicknesses, and some other awesome stuff, i know he's there, i just dont feel forgiven all the ttime. i'm working on being more open to it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so open about your walk with Christ. It's encouraging to hear someone striving to live for Him too.
You are in my prayers.
In His-Story,

Anonymous said...

Jesus said to the Twelve something like this. "You believe because you have seen but blessed are those who haven't seen me and still believe." And Paul words it as "Faith isn't seeing." Yes, God does show Himself to us in some amazing ways but be honest that's rather rare in our lives,don't you agree? More often He reveals Himself to us through His word. So read the Gospels to learn about the Jesus you serve! And enjoy your search for God!