For a long time I have been thinking of putting down in words on how I personally relate to God in the person of Jesus, people and myself. When I have the correct perspectives for these three persons, I find life so exciting, meaningful and forward looking. It helps me to be strong and puts me on so strong a foundation that nothing can shake me. I pray that my spiritual life model can become a reference not only for my children and grandchildren but for other disciples of Jesus and friends also.
This model of my spiritual life is based on the Bible: and is foremost, the foundation stone for my life. The Bible reveals the word of God, the creator. Secondly, this model is according to my personal experience with Jesus. As I practise living out the word of God, I develop strong convictions. Thirdly, this model is also about how I relate to people of all nations (races) biblically, how I accept people as Jesus accepts and loves them. Fourthly, this model also tells about how I come to terms with myself and how I deal with myself based on the word of God, how I relate to myself in relationship to Jesus and other fellow human beings. Fifthly, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, is very much my role model, and his teachings contribute to this model of spiritual life.
I would explain about my attitude towards the Bible and then, I will show how it affects the other four points mentioned above.
towards the Bible
What is your attitude towards this ancient record of the word of God? Is it something like a book you can do without in life? Is it just a religious book? Is it merely just some fairy tales? To a lot of people, it is just a source of reference, for some good philosophy as Jesus is a great thinker that affects a great portion of the world population. May be some see it as just another book?
I will share with you my attitude towards it and I pray that my attitude towards it will be so infectious that you will regard it as the highest authority in your life.
My most foundational attitude towards the Bible is that it reveals the word of God that has the final authority about how I should live my life on earth and my ultimate destiny. Because it is the word of God, it is the book which the human race cannot overlook. Therefore, I have the mission to tell the world, at least, at where I am, the message and teaching that it contains.
Jesus Himself confesses He does not come to abolish the Old Testament but He comes to fulfill it. I agree whole-heartedly with what He says in Matthew 5:17, ‘Do not think that I come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.’ Jesus is the one of the Trinitarian God who revealed to the Prophets the Law that God had given to the Israelites. Now, in the New Testament, He comes personally to affirm that those God given laws are still relevant and He promotes them. However, He offers more than the Old Testament, as the Son of God, He offers love and grace. His love and grace are actually all contained in the Old Testament through all the laws. All the laws, for example, the Ten Commandments, if they were obeyed, the Israelites would truly experienced God’s love and grace. The Israelites kept missing the point by disobeying all the laws. It was repeated throughout the Israelites’ history.
Despite the hardness of heart of the Israelites and the whole world, God has not given up on us. He comes to show us His love and grace for the world in the person of Jesus Christ. He personally shows up so that we human beings could SEE Him in tangibility. Not only He lives among us and expresses His divinity through miracles, healing of sickness, demonic deliverance and teaching, He is willing to die on the shameful cross (designed for the greatest criminals) to express His obedience to God the Father that He is to do it as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind. He is so willing, so humble to die a death of expiation for the sins of mankind. He wants the whole world to know His love and grace for them because in the past they could not see God, and now they could see His tangible love and grace for them. We human beings should not have any excuse not to turn to Him and repent from our sins.
He offers to forgive us of our sins by His sacrificial death. It is a death that deserves our attention about how serious He is in saving us. I am convinced of His death, sacrificial death, death that pays the penalty for my sins, and a death that saves me from my eternal destruction in hell. I cannot find any other person or god who could do that for me. I cannot find any god who is willing to take the place of my punishment and suffer for my sins. I should in fact suffer for my own sins. Why should He die for me? Yet, out of His great love and grace for me and you, He does it.
Jesus has so powerfully shown His great love and grace for me. So, He has everything to do with my life. Since He saves me from eternal destruction in hell; purchases me with such a huge price, He is now in my life, giving me all the strength, power, wisdom and all the resources I needed to transform my life to be like Him. Therefore, as long as I submit my life to Him and live according to His desires and will for me, I know my life will not go wrong. Instead, I know I am on the righteous path to eternity.
Also, Jesus has long proven He is God through His death, burial and resurrection from death after three days and He promises He would come again. This gives me a reality of eternal life I will spend with Him one day I leave this earth. If He is such a powerful God, there is no reason why I do not obey Him in His word, the Bible, the revealed word of God, the creator. If I do not take the bible with such serious attitude, then, whatever other attitude I have towards it cannot justify Jesus is God, the creator of the universe, savior of mankind.
My attitude towards the Bible is my conviction that He is God, my savior. Therefore, I have every reason to allow Him to be my master, my Lord, and to have the final say about how He uses my life. I must not be in control of my life anymore. He saves me; His will for my life must be the number one priority of my life. I must not miss His will for me. His will for me is the entire Bible. I dare say I experience all the anxiety, worries, and fears of all kinds because I have insisted on my own will and desires.
Such attitude towards the Bible as the authority of my life definitely affects how I see Jesus Christ, people and myself. For in certainty, I know my standards are far beyond Jesus’ standard for my life. As I obey His teaching and standard, I find that I have all the answers in dealing with others and myself.
My Attitude towards
the Bible Affects My
Relationship with Jesus
In the first place, Jesus is the universal truth I pursue on earth. Whatever He has taught is the truth. All the truths will bring me to head for eternal life. With this as the bottom line, I find that this personal attitude affects my relationship with Him in these ways.
Firstly, since the word that came out of Jesus is the truth, I believe and accept totally His promise for I know that His promises for me will definitely come true. Take for instance, Jesus promises that His Spirit fills and empowers me to make disciples of all nations in Acts 1: 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As Jesus has promised it, I truly believe the Holy Spirit empowers me as His disciple to be His witness in training people of all races to be His disciples. I have experienced His empowerment in preaching the word of God and the gospel; healing and deliverance.
Secondly, owing to my attitude, I stay close to Jesus in my personal relationship with Him by obeying Him and His word. Jesus Christ is the word of God became flesh. As long as I obey His word, I am in a personal relationship with Him. Take for instance, I used to be very scared of marriage and I even opted to remain single for life in my younger days because my parents had not shown positive modeling. As I reflected about remaining single, God’s word in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him,” actually transformed me as I decided to obey this verse and got married. I obeyed it because I did not have the gift of celibacy as owned by Apostle Paul or taught by Jesus.
Thirdly, as Jesus is the word of God, I expect to hear Him any moment in my life. As I stay personal with Him, I hear Him speaking to me in His still small voice. Take for instance, when I am not honest with myself and others, I hear Him telling me so. When there are pride and selfishness in my heart and there is no humility, His Spirit will awake me to it. When there is greed in my soul, I sense it. When I sense something is wrong in a person’s soul, he helps me to discern it.
Fourthly, as Jesus’ teaching is authoritative over my life, for I yield my life to be like Him. I pursue His godly characters like love, compassion, passionate, patience, sacrificial, humility, just, and righteousness. As long as my thought, perspective, conviction, attitude, and action are like that of Jesus, I am in a close relationship with Him. Take for instance, when I care for the sick and pray for them, and when I forgive someone, I am like Him. I may not be perfect like Jesus but He is my best model. Jesus says in Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Fifthly, as I am so convinced that He is the only true God whom I worship with my whole heart, mind and might, that I desire to be responsible to Him by preaching about Him and His word. I desire my life to represent Him and live according to His word. I want to live a life that is consistent to the teachings of Jesus. In other words, I exist on earth for the purpose of mission.
With all foundations set in place, now, I proceed to present my spiritual life model. It will involve three persons; they are God in the person of Jesus, myself and other people. This model is an integrated whole. It is three separate individual identities and yet we are related and influencing one another. Everything originates from God in the person of Jesus whom I cannot do without. He holds me and Him together in an intimate fellowship. He holds me and the others together in great fellowship. He holds the others and Him together in an intimate relationship.
My Spiritual Life Model:
My Personal Relationship With Jesus
This is one crucial relationship that is missing in a lot of Christian’s life. Once it is not there, we can hardly call ourselves a disciple of Jesus. Without a personal relationship with Jesus, our lives are not transformed to be more Christ like. Without it, there is no empowerment to serve Him at all.
I can have a personal relationship because Jesus is both human and divine person. The fact that He is a human person makes me feel that He definitely understands me. He understands all my strengths, weaknesses, needs, struggles and problems inside out. He is a divine person who has the wisdom, power and resources beyond my understanding to take care of my destiny as well as the destiny of others and the whole of universe.
If He is not human, I just cannot be personal with Him. I can hardly imagine how I can have communion with Him. It is because He is both a human and divine person, I can say I am in Him and He is in me.
With this personal relationship, I become very particular about how He sees me. On the one hand, He understands me as His human subject (created) who has my humanity (who sins against Him). On the other hand, I am created and saved by Him, He expects me to be like Him and obey Him. He expects me to think, see and act like Him in terms of His attributes, love, forgiveness, mercy, graciousness, just, peace, impartiality, purity, and holiness. He expects me to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit recorded in Galatians 5:22,23 “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
I have to be disciplined and work towards those attributes and fruit of the Spirit. I can never be like Him a hundred percent but in all humility I desire to be like what Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I … have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” I am not perfect like Apostle Paul, but I work towards the goal of Christ Jesus’ attributes. Then, perhaps at the end of the day, I may have the hope of what Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I should not be giving excuses that I cannot be like Him because that is His mission on earth for me. I will never get tired of working at the attributes. Not only I will do it, I will also teach others and disciple them to do them as He gives me all the empowerment to do so.
If Jesus sees me from His perspectives of attributes, then, I have to do the same to myself and others. This is how He measures me and so, I do likewise. Then, when I measure others in terms of their coming to Jesus or acceptance by Him, it is no more by their language, skin color, race/ethnicity/tribe/country, culture, surname, clan, academic qualification/education, richness and wealth, not even their strengths and all the worldly standards that one can imagine. In this way, it is so fair for everybody before God in the person of Jesus.
With this, I always believe I have a lot of corrections, and repentance to do when I face Jesus. Jesus desires me to measure against His attributes. However when I tend to look at capabilities, ethnicity, and culture, and not using the standard that Jesus uses, I deny people a chance to come before Jesus and be saved. This is because people may not reach those human standards. In fact, by using those human standards to measure them, I behave as if I am god. As a result, I become proud, and self-centered – not Christ-centered. Very often I come to realize this as the Spirit of Jesus reminds me. Therefore, the less proud and less self-centered I am, the more I will be doing His mission on earth.
I pray that you can see why my spiritual life includes such a dimension of a personal relationship with Jesus. I also pray that in your own spiritual life model, you will have one also.
By Rev Law Hui Seng
En Tao Methodist Church, Sibu