We all long for a personal encounter. With family, friends and most of all our Savior. Emotionally we are drawn to stories or films that are a tearjerker, we want to feel, and experience being loved. Our heart is moved with compassion because we relate to what we are seeing, or memory is triggered. Maybe it reminds us of a childhood memory that we want to live over again or a painful experience that we are trying to forget that has changed us forever.
Our hearts can be a fortified bunker. Careful to “screen” who comes close or who we want to let in at all. Keeping things at a distance can keep precious moments and people impersonal. We can fear the reality that somethings bring. In relationships, we often learn more about ourselves in this process. Letting down our defenses to allows the right things to have a place and grow. The true reality is that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you in any condition. When we let Him in, He becomes personal.
His words were personal, peeling the layers back of the onion. We know the difference when it’s personal and when it is just mechanical. Often, we can move on “autopilot” to get things done, but Jesus moved consciously of his father’s will and not just with task orientation. Great care was taken because of great love.
He saw something and spoke from a place of strength and loved the one that was in front of Him. They were the most important person to him at that moment.
When it is personal:
- It is meaningful
- It has power in my personal life
- We want to share it with others
- We protect what is sacred seeing its value
- Exposes indifference
As part of God’s creation, we often idolize the creation over the creator. When we do this our relationship with God becomes impersonal. “Stuff” and our needs become magnified because that is what we are focusing on more than our creator. How does this change? As we walk with the Lord, He wants to bring us deeper into a meaningful relationship that touches every area of our life. Moving from a general understanding of information and facts into a personal revelation where we discover our purpose and value. When things are general and not specific then there is a lot of room for boredom and personal interpretation ultimately producing a mindset of Jesus on our terms.
Generation Y, this generation, has been somewhat resistant to the gospel and “taking it apart” intellectually and putting it back together as they understand it. Authenticity and credibility on levels of science and history as well as pragmatism are important. Generation X, the next generation, are growing up ignorant as well as little to no foundation of truth. The most sought-after desire in both camps is when coming to church, a personal encounter with God and building relationships.
In John 20:11-16 Mary was by the tomb grieving the loss of her savior. Jesus personal care moved Mary in devotion to following him. She had a conversation with who she thought was the gardener but when Jesus mentioned her name, she knew it was her Lord. She had a personal encounter with her Lord. Imagine Christ saying your name today. You are the object of his love and grace – you are highly favored.
In Ephesians 3:19 we read about a personal love that goes beyond knowledge. It is so much greater then what we can comprehend! John 8:11 These words that Jesus shared “Neither do I condemn you- go and sin no more” were words that passed the knowledge of sin and the Law and led her to life and healing.
A personal encounter shows us:
- He knew her and loved her where she was.
- He didn’t see her in her sin but ministered grace.
- She loved because she had been forgiven much.
- She had a future because of Grace.
- His promise depends on himself and not our response to it.
We may follow Jesus for different reasons: Religious obligations, fear or it is what is expected of you. Jesus wants to touch your heart with His reality. He wants to pierce through the dullness and infuse amazement. What is not personal one day we will walk away from it. In our day of divorce and remarriage and the “throw away” society, we must be vigilant to guard and care for what is sacred. How do we do this?
Here are a few meditations:
- Why do we value the things we value?
- Are we spending the time needed to guard what is valuable to us?
- Does it bring family and friends closer or keeps me from them?
- Is what I am doing bring my purpose alive?
Why we sin?
Often, we habitually sin because the knowledge of truth is not personal, and we lack the fear of the Lord. As Jesus “shows up” and ministers personally what he went through on the cross and the nailed pierced hands and feet we start to realize the tremendous price that was paid so that we are forgiven. As this penetrated our hearts, we start to understand the quenching and grieving of the Spirit.
Failure sobers us to the reality of:
- Our fallibility
- Our need for a god.
- What we depend on
- What we believe
Sin is destructive but Gods love doesn’t demand a change, it produces a lasting one.
Is it real?
Concepts can limit our spiritual experience. We may hear a verse or come to a familiar place thinking we know all that is going on. God has a personal ministry to you at this moment – healing, answered prayer or revelation could happen NOW. Our attitude of worship and asking God to teach it all over again as a child releases this personal encounter.
Take a moment and let this truth in Isaiah 49:15 -16 penetrate your heart. “I will not forget you…. see, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”. Jesus is speaking to you – He knows the end from the beginning, and he wants you and loves you. You are not your sin or how you feel you are known and loved!
The Psalmist shifted from a religious form to a personal exchange. In Psalms 18 1-2:
I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.
His faith was real and personal – he used the personal pronoun “MY” over and over to show relationship and trust.
God is with you! He wants you to see his fingerprints on His Word today all around you. Leave the general understanding of God as information and pray in specifics to see God answer personally. Fellowship with your heavenly Father today as a son or daughter that is highly favored.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)