Saturday, November 14, 2009

Growing Through Daily Communion With God

In studying from the book of Leviticus recently, I came to understand, in a deeper way, what our salvation meant - having a God walking with us and dwelling in and amidst us. Many Christians have it backwards by thinking that salvation is all about being able to go to Heaven and living with God forever. To a certain extent, this statement is rhetorically correct but adopting it unthinkingly leads to a subtle misunderstanding about our faith. One may even begin to think that having gained one-and-for-all forgiveness, we are now free to live our lives as we like. Sadly, that is how many Christians self-sufficiently live; content to leave God on the shelf, until such time when he is needed again to resolve a problem.

The Bible teaches us that before Adam fell into sin, God walked with him and Eve. Sin led to a separation in this fellowship but because of Jesus Christ, we are now redeemed. The question is what does being redeemed mean to us? For one thing, it allows us access to God’s presence. But the access has a purpose to it – that we be changed into the image of man as he was originally created before the Fall. This image is exemplified by the life of Jesus Christ, who lived a life wholly pleasing to God.

God’s love for us is not limited to time in eternity where we spend heaven with him. God’s love for us means he is also very interested in the lives we live right now. He is very concerned that we be restored to the holiness he originally created us to be. That is what real freedom means – to be holy and wholly separated unto God through Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, in many Christians, the idea of personal holiness is being marginalized. To them, the concept smacks of self-effort, legalistic and Pharisee-like. The thought is that since we are forgiven, we just need to remember Christ’s love and we will be transformed. That may sound true but I would to clarify that to remain a passive receiver of the love of Christ will not transform us. Transformation comes through a Spirit-quickened response to Christ’s love.

Thus, what is also needed in our quest to become what God had created us will require what Adam did with God before the Fall – daily intimate communion. That means a regular pattern of communication with God. Applied personally, it simply means a daily pattern of prayer and reading the Bible. It also means to read the Bible as God’s Word thereby making it a personal encounter with God. This will help us to align with what God wants to do in our lives. His Word is many things to us - a mirror that reflects what is right and good; a seed, if planted well, reaps abundant fruit, a sword that slashes through facades and reveals God’s reality; a lamp to guide us through darkness and adversity; and bread that quenches the hunger of our souls.

Our failure to establish a pattern of communion with God leads to a lowering of our understanding of God and his ways. This, in turn, lowers our concept of God's holiness and our understanding of sin which simply means to miss God’s mark. We may find ourselves tolerating more than we should and becoming used to things that should repel us. By communicating with God directly, we will find ourselves growing in our appreciation of God's holiness. This will help us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, through prayer, to grow in righteousness and purity.

If we say we love God then this is what we should do. Our God does not expect a performance-based faith from us. Yet Jesus also did say “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). If we love him, communion with God through his word and prayer will not be a performance or a drag - it will be the most natural thing for us. If your love is golf, how hard it is to get going to play a game? If you love golf, would you call a game of golf work or a chore? I sincerely doubt that.

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