March 4 I Sunday
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
What exactly is the Christian life? How do we define it and what is its purpose? Some see it as a belief system that provides its adherents with moral standards, spiritual justifications and answers to life’s deepest questions. If the Christian life were simply a belief system like any other religion or philosophy, the most important thing we could do is dot our doctrinal “i’s” and cross our doctrinal “t’s.” We would be like the Pharisees, constantly brushing up on our systematic theology and making sure we fulfill the moral obligations of our beliefs.
Others emphasize the Christian life as an experience or a series of experiences. They can pinpoint specific times when God has worked in their lives and they depend on these times to give their faith meaning. This is absolutely part of the Christian life and we are right to praise God for the way He has worked in our lives, but the problem with experiences is they quickly become history. At best, we can enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling those memories bring, but a Christianity dependent on experiences will quickly grow stale.
A third option is to define the Christian life by feelings. There are those who think the point of the Christian life is to emotionally connect with God. They thoroughly enjoy the powerful worship services, the emotional highs and feelings of closeness with God, but there are two dangers here. Firstly, our emotions are fickle. Feelings fade, and because we feel something today does not mean we will feel the same thing tomorrow. Secondly, we can easily put our emotions on a pedestal and continually strive for that emotional high, which places the focus on ourselves rather than the God we are worshipping.
Theology, experience and emotion have their place in the Christian life, but they are not its defining features. We learn this from Jesus when He prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” What defines the Christian life is personally coming to know God and Jesus Christ. In other words, it is about relationship with our Lord and Saviour. Without the relational aspect, we miss out on the wonder and vitality that knowing Christ brings. But in a committed relationship with Jesus, we can anticipate meaningful experiences, packed with emotions that deepen our love, awe and worship of Him. Knowing Jesus is what keeps us grounded through all the perils and joys of life. He is our center of gravity, and in a word, He becomes our life!
Prayer: Almighty God, I am constantly amazed that You want a relationship with me. Keep me from being caught up in doctrine, experiences and emotions so that I may focus on getting to know You better. Thank You, Lord.