Friday, July 29, 2011

Who is Jesus? -IIIa

Generally, when I find myself thinking about how Jesus is my vital connection to God, to life, to purpose, to reality, and to love, I start wondering about the nature of this connection.

Obviously, when someone chooses to follow Jesus, he does not grow a magical power cord and inserts it into the cosmic power strip of the universe. There is no physical connection.

So, what is this connection like? It is real. It is vital to person's growth and well-being, and to God's purposes. (If people who follow Jesus are branches to his vine, then their purpose is to bear fruit which will glorify the Father and proves we are Jesus' disciples.)

The claim of Jesus is that a person can have a personal relationship with the Creator of all. Jesus declared those who follow him are his friends and his family.

There have been prescriptions for maintaining the health of this relationship since creation. Prayer opens a person's heart to God. And it allows God to speak back to that heart. God gave the scripture as a concrete way to help people understand God's heart, his purposes, his expectations, his design of creation and what pleases him. Worship, fellowship with God's family, obedience to God's commands are also ways of remaining connected to God. Each item mentioned above allows grace, and love to flow to people's hearts.

All these things certainly help. But there are people who have honestly followed all these things for 30-40 years, with no impact on lifestyle, attitude or effect on those around them. Is it because they are not coupled in the person's heart with faith, love, sincerity or seriousness? Or is there a mind-set of connecting on our terms? Or is there something we don't understand about connecting?

In human relationships, there is not one silver bullet to connect to another person. There are multiple things that bind one person's heart to another. People can share hobbies, talk on the phone, meet for coffee or job -- but perhaps all these things are just lenses as one heart focuses on another heart.

Paul encourages God's children to pray at all times. Is this just hyperbole? Or is it something we should really consider? If prayer is bound to a particular location and time, with particular words or methods, then this is impossible. We all have to eat, sleep and work at sometime.

If we focus our hearts through the things that we do to connect us to our friends, maybe it is the heart focus that matters. Then, maybe it is the heart focus through these spiritual disciplines that connect us to Jesus.

It does not seem humanly possible to focus our hearts on the Father 100% of the time. But consistent, regular heart focus can be done in most situations. And it can be coupled with a receptivity focus to what God may say.

Communication is always in multiple directions. A person can only truly communicate if he transmits and receives. Scripture testifies from cover to cover that God speaks and God listens. And a relationship must give from the heart and wait to receive. And attention or focus is required in both.

There are a number of people who have practiced to achieve almost continuous heart focus. Brother Lawrence is probably the most famous. People have told stories about Corrie Ten Boom concerning her intimacy with God and her ongoing connection.

We should not feel guilty because our connection is frail, tentative or weak. We should not worry if we seem unable to focus, minds are prone to wonder. Spiritual life and vitality lies in this connection. Jesus said it is necessary for bearing fruit. And the enemy know this too. It is worth the most to him to disrupt the connection. He will resort to all sorts of tricks and distractions. From weird thoughts, to painful memories, to temptations, to discouragement.

This connection, and the enemy's attempts to disrupt it, lies at the root of spiritual warfare. If the enemy considers it so important to break it, we should consider it equally important to maintain, pursue and perfect it. Take to heart to example of Brother Lawrence, who when he realized he had moved from God's presence, did not berate himself, or condemn himself, but thanked God that he was always there, and asked God for help to do better at turning his heart to him.

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