Do You Have A Personal Relationship With Jesus?
ProLifeCorner.com – Frank J. Munda- 2-7-2016 – Often people will ask this most important question: Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? It’s a good question Do you have the right answer? Is the answer yes? By the very nature of someone accepting Jesus into their life we all have varying degrees of relationship with our Lord.
If you profess to be Christian the question is, what does it mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus? I came from a background that might seem strange to some; that is we were Catholic on my Father’s side of the family and Protestant on my Mother’s side. My Mom and Dad had four sons and I was the third born. My mother had a lovely singing voice and loved the old Protestant hymns. When we were small, often at night my Mom would sing the beautiful old Protestant hymns to us. “The Old Rugged Cross” was one of my favorites. Of course when I was real small I did not understand this Protestant – Catholic thing. As I grew up unfortunately the differences became more clear to me. My favorite aunt was a Baptist Christian. She was a good and kind person and I know she loved me as her nephew, but I had difficulty understanding how she could hate my Catholic faith. When my young wife and I had an opportunity to purchase our first home, it was my aunt who gave us the down payment. In her own way she had a relationship with Jesus; she was a good, kind and loving person to those around her. The only thing that I truly could not understand is how she could love Jesus, and yet take such a strong anti-Catholic position.
I tried all my life to break down this barrier that she had put up between herself and the Catholic church. I believe my aunt fits into a category of people who hated the Catholic Church not for what it is, but for what they believed the Catholic Church is.
I tell this story for a reason. Satan is having a field day; Satan takes great delight in the division amongst Christians. When we gossip and back bite each other in our own pews that is a terrible thing. It brings much pain to those around us and it brings great delight to Satan. When the Lutheran cannot get along with a Pentecostal, or a Baptist dislikes the Nazarene, it brings great delight to Satan. Ask yourself this: Am I here to bring delight to Satan, or bring delight to our Lord and sing praise to Him?
It hasn’t been that long ago I asked myself a very tough question: Is there anything in my life that I think of more than our Lord? I’m embarrassed to say our Lord was on the bottom of the list. Oh yes, I go to church on Sunday, I read Scripture, don’t watch filthy movies, try to walk and talk in a Christ like manner just like many of you do. And yes, I like to think I had a personal relationship with Jesus. But did I really have what I thought I had? I took into account all the things that I thought of more than Jesus. My thoughts were not necessarily these but let me give a few worldly examples: drugs, sex, rock ‘n roll, television, sports, drinking to excess and that doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol, we can drink soft drinks to an excess as well. As a young boy I was taught “all things in moderation.” As I grew older, I forgot that lesson and had many excesses in my life.
Here’s something to think about God gives us 24 hours in the day, times seven days a week equals 168 hours in that week. Many Christians will tithe 10% of their income to the church which is a good thing. Have we ever thought about tithing our time to the Lord ? To tithe 10% of my time for a week would be 16.8 hours. On a daily basis this would be a little less than 2 1/2 hours a day. I don’t know about you, but I fell very short of giving back to the Lord even a small portion of what He has so generously given to me. 168 hours a week and I’ve give back so little! Some Christians will say that on Sunday and on Wednesday I certainly meet that obligation. If so, praise God! What about the other five days in the week?
Let’s think about it this way; Let’s say a friend gave you $10 and asked for only one dollar in change. Would you shortchange him and return only $0.10? I hope not! If we wouldn’t shortchange a friend, why would we shortchange God who has given us everything? God has given us 168 hours each week. We know that through Holy Scripture God has asked for 10% of our earnings, it would be fair to conclude He would want the same with our time and talents. All that we have time, talents etc. comes from God, He who has loved you from all eternity. When we look at it that way returning 10% of our time sounds like a good and proper thing to do.
The reason I’m going into all this is I had to have an epiphany in my own life to make me realize, in spite of what I say about having a personal relationship with our Lord, He is getting a very poor return when it comes to time and talent. It has taken me over 70 years to arrive to this. Through the grace of God I hope you figure it out sooner than I did. Seriously, ask yourself how much time you put into sports, as a spectator or even a participant? Sports is not bad in and of itself. However, if there’s anything in life that we are thinking of or involved in more than the time we give to the Lord, we might be unknowingly, unwittingly practicing idolatry. “Thou shall not have strange gods before Me” saith the Lord. Certainly none of us would practice idolatry on purpose, but we get caught up in the ways of the world. Only by keeping our eyes, our mind and our hearts on the crucified and risen Lord will we be able to have a personal relationship with him.
I would like to issue a challenge to you as a brother or sister in Christ. First we must cease to judge people of different Christian denominations. I know many Christians who are not of my faith and yet I know they are walking in the light of the Lord to the fullness of their understanding. By the same token I know Christians within my own faith community who profess to be Christian and barely understand what their Christian religion is all about. I am asking you, no matter what your Christian faith is, to study the precepts of your church and walk and talk it as best you can. Issue a challenge to yourself to be a better Christian today than yesterday, a challenge I have to repeat to myself often.
Lent begins this year on February 10, Ash Wednesday.
Soon many Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic Christians will be entering into the Lenten season, a 40 day period of fasting and praying. Many Christian denominations practice this most holy season. These 40 days lead up to Holy Thursday, the Passion of our Lord and Savior, Good Friday (it is called “good” because that is the day of our redemption) then Holy Saturday leading to his glorious Resurrection on Holy Easter Sunday. If your faith community does not practice Lent may I suggest that you try it? I love lent because it really helps me build a more personal and intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The inspiration for observing Lent comes from Jesus’ forty days in the
desert, when he fasted, prayed, and resisted the temptations of the devil.
This took place after he was baptized by John (Mt 3:13-17) and before he
called his disciples and began his public ministry (Mt 4:12-25).”
Allow me to give you a few examples of how Lent helps me build a closer relationship with our Lord. Usually when Christians participate in the practice of the 40 days of Lent, they offer prayers, abstain from certain foods or drink, give up some simple pleasure that they enjoy and offer it up to the Lord. The beauty of Lent is you can tailor your personal prayer life, you can tailor abstinence to your own situation. A few examples, don’t eat between meals; don’t have that second cup of coffee; eat two light meals and one regular meal; if you normally don’t pray in the morning offer prayers to our Lord; if you don’t normally pray in the evening offer prayers to our Lord. This is between you and the Lord. How much more of a personal relationship can you have? Another suggestion: Lent doesn’t necessarily mean to abstain from something. Perhaps you have a friend or loved one in the hospital or nursing home, and as much as you love that person you find it difficult to go visit them because of the situation or surroundings. So plan on going to see that person and share your love with them and offer any inconvenience or unpleasantness regarding the visit up to our Lord and Savior. Trust me you will be building a more personal relationship with our Lord, a relationship like you have never had before.
Some people abstain from meat on Fridays and/or Wednesdays as well during this 40 days of Lent. If you offer prayers, visit the sick, give up that extra cup of coffee, etc. and do it because you love our Lord and offer these sacrifices up to Him, you will be building a more personal relationship with Him. Ask our Lord during this special time to give you the grace to continue some, or all of the things that you did during Lent and carry it into the remaining days of the year. If you do that I guarantee that you will have a more personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.
Please note I am not asking you to convert to any other Christian community. All I am asking is that you take some of the holy practices that have for centuries brought other Christians closer to our Lord in a more personal way, and embrace those practices yourself. A wise man once told me a good rule of thumb for those ‘what should I do’ questions: the answer is “if it brings you closer to Jesus it’s good, if it takes you further away from Jesus, it’s bad.” My dear friends following some of these Christian practices will bring you closer to the Lord, you will have a more personal relationship with Him than ever before in your life.
Ask our Lord to give you His grace, so that you can know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world so that you can live with Him in full and complete joy for all eternity in the world to come.
May the joy, peace, and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you, and all your family and loved ones.