In the Gospel of John Jesus is having a conversation with the Jews and it is quite a lengthy conversation (John 8). Like most good conversations it goes back and forth. They say something and Jesus responses. They then either offer a rebuttal or switch subjects and try again to convince Him that they are of good quality stock as they are Abraham’s descendants and they are in right relationship with God. Jesus loves them as He discusses many root issues with them – responding gently and lovingly because He sees them as lost sheep without a shepherd. They don’t realize they are “lost” but think everything is “good to go.”
Near the end of this amazing exchange Jesus gets to the root of the problem. Jesus states very clearly, “You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you are not in relationship with Him. I know Him intimately…I know Him, and I do as He says.” (John 8:54a-55)
As I read that the other day I realized that Jesus could say the exact same thing to many today who are church attenders and who call themselves Christians. They hold to the outward form of our religion but deny the power that brings life change. (2 Timothy 3:5) They have said all the right things and added all the right disciplines (prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, small group involvement) but like the pharisees “they are wrong, because they know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) They are reading the Bible but not coming to know the Author of the Bible. They have not had an encounter with the living God and thus also have not experienced the power of God that brings about a total makeover allowing them to be “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are cultural Christians going through the motions without the emotions (love, thankfulness, contentment, peace).
Jesus continues to speak today and He is saying to many, “…you are not in relationship with Him.” And, like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is inviting many who call themselves Christians to know Him intimately and do as He says. However, because many have been taught that they are right with God having said a Sinner’s Prayer they assume the message is for others. They miss the invitation and their opportunity. They have been deceived by the church that man has built. Their minds are blinded and they are holding to the letter of the Law without knowing the purpose of the Law. They have yet to experience true life and think that what they have is the “norm” and so are not looking for more. They are not searching for life which is, of course, only found in Him and an intimate relationship with Him.
If you are a church attender, a cultural Christian, and find yourself empty of real life – you are going through the motions and doing everything that you have been taught to do but find it unfulfilling and boring… If you are “plugged in” but there is no power in the plug – then it is time to take an honest look at your life starting on the inside. The starting point of everything the Christian faith and the true Church that Jesus is building is an intimate relationship with God the Father and fellowship with His Spirit. That’s the place to start. This is foundational to everything else.
God is speaking to the church and letting us know that life is available and eternal life (a personal relationship with Him – Romans 6:23b and John 17:3) is also available. Both are found only in a relationship with God our Heavenly Father – and that relationship begins when we are convicted of our sins, repent with godly sorrow and seek forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).