August 30, 2009

A Personal Relationship with Christ

"Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"

Many Christians ask that question. You may have been asked that question yourself. What does it really mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus? What are we being asked here?

God is unchanging. He is the "Father of lights", as James calls him (Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27) - the creator of the sun, moon and stars - and unlike those bodies that rise and fall, come in and out of our daily lives, God is constant. God's law is constant, too - as constant and unchanging as the Lawgiver. God is ever present in our lives, and we are meant to be ever present to God through obedience to His laws out of love. We are to be "doers of the word", according to James.

An intimate relationship - the kind of changes you, inside and out - is a relationship of constancy. Many of us have a bad relationship with God. We're sitting there on the couch, being asked "Where are you? It feels like you're not even here." And we're not. We've "checked out" of the relationship. We're inside our heart full of selfishness, pride, and unworthy desires and outside of that personal, intimate relationship with Him.

Christ warned us when he corrected the Pharisees and scribes (Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23). From inside us comes "unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly" - all of the things that offend God and hurt our relationship with Him. These are all things that break our connection, our intimacy with Him. They take us away and rob us of that constancy that makes for a good relationship.

So how do we get back? How do we become constant in God's life, as He is in ours? Compare Jesus' list from the Gospel reading today to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:2-17. Do you see the connection? Everything that Jesus warns defiles us - takes us away from the relationship with God - is something God commanded through Moses. That ten-point list is the ultimate relationship quiz.

Which of the items on Jesus' list is causing problems for you today? Find one way that you can overcome that problem today and bring yourself closer to God.

God, Father of Lights, ever-present creator, be always on my mind, at my lips, and in my heart.

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