We’ve all had the experience of trying to get a hold of a friend, and after calling, the number is wrong, the number has changed, or when you finally connect, the signal is so weak that you can barely hear what the person is trying to say. This is a great picture of how our relationship with God is. Sometimes there are attempts, but they just end up unsuccessful.
I’ve been meditating on what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Fellowship is such a christian word, and has many uses. If I’m hanging out with my friend, I’m fellowshipping. For some fellowship means singing songs, playing games, or eating together. But you can eat together and not necessarily eat together. Sometimes you can be in the same house, eating at the same time, but not really in the same room, or even looking at each other. I like to use one of my wife’s favorite words in regards to relationship, and that word is connecting. Connecting is an intentional effort to spend time and communicate despite what is going on around you.
As believers it is easy to have problems connecting with Jesus. We gather together to fellowship with Jesus but a lot of times we go to church and we forget that Jesus is there. I mean we see the pastor, we see and hear the worship team, we see the random church guy that we don’t know. Its impossible to know everyone when you have multiple services and the church is large. You just never know who you are going to sit next to. With all of the programming, announcements, and activity it is easy to get lost. Sometimes church can be so distracting. I go to a really big and an awesome church with a lot of activity however distraction is not something that only occurs at large churches; this problem can happen anywhere.
So how do we see Jesus with all of the activity? How do we see Jesus sometimes we go through the motions at church. We go through the motions with Jesus.
Is Jesus really always with me? That really depends on us right. Jesus promised he would never leave us or forsake us, but that doesn’t mean that we would not leave or forsake him. I want to stick on this point because the biggest problem that I have and I believe we as christians have is that we are so earthly, that we fail to see Jesus.
Often we fail to recognize Jesus when he is right in front of us because he comes in a form that we don’t expect. In one of the judgements in the book of Matthew,Jesus condemns and rewards his servants based on whether they treated him well. When they ask Jesus, ‘when did we see you?’, he answers, ‘as often as you did it to the least of these you did it unto me’. Jesus underscores that he is always there always watching and expects us to serve those who we see as burdensome or who cause us inconvenience.
Sometimes we have connection problems with Jesus because we are disconnected at church and or home. We need to be plugged into a local church. God commands us to. There are no lone ranger christians. I know church can sometimes be trying, and there are people who can be off putting. This is why church is so important because even in the brokenness, pettiness and sin we find in our church, we still find Jesus is there using it to conform us unto his image. When our wives are nagging or arguing with us, we are supposed to see Jesus. When our husbands as being dry, inconsiderate, indifferent or harsh we are to see Jesus in them. When your children are being rebellious and mouthy we need to see Jesus. It is not that it’s Jesus who is harming you but rather Jesus is calling you to exercise patience, forgiveness, kindness and love to someone who doesn’t appear to deserve it. We need to see people in the divine image even when they don’t see it in themselves.
We are ambassadors of Christ who call forth the divine proclamation of reconciliation and of a new creation. Our message to the world is that “you don’t have to stay broken down and defeated but you can be born again.” If we make it our goal to focus on seeing Jesus in the mundane and unlikely people and places we will find that like those 3D brain teasers Jesus is behind the scenes in more places than we think. When we are conscious of his presence, we are able to enter a deeper worship and fellowship with him and can say, “I see you Lord. Thank you for your presence.”
Often our connection problems with Jesus come because we are looking at the wrong things. There are sins we need to repent of in order to be connected to God.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We cannot walk in the dark and then pretend to come in the light. We can fool people but we can’t fool God. If we confess our sins, God is able to purify us and connect with us again.
Sometimes in spiritual things we fail to see Jesus. Sometimes we focus on form but not substance, on appearance not on spirit, on noise and not the gentle whisper of the Spirit. Even when reading the Bible, we can miss Jesus. This is what Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of in John 5, reading without seeing Jesus. The same thing can more easily happen with prayer. There are times when I am praying and find my mind scattered and frantic, my body tired and drained. In those times I find it hard to see Jesus. Sometimes we just pray without even trying to hear what the Spirit has to say back to us. This futile process will cause us to miss Christ as well. We must realize that our flesh is in opposition against things of God, and that we must overcome it to see him. Connecting with Jesus is a challenge in subduing our flesh and focusing on the spirit. For where the spirit is there is liberty. There is liberty because the chains of the flesh have been broken and we are able to experience new movement with little restrictions. Here’s a passage in Luke 19 that illustrates this in an interesting way.
2And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
Zacchaeus knew his own physical limitations would limit his ability to see Jesus. He anticipated the obstacles and worked around his limitations so he could get a sight of Jesus. The devil will throw as many obstacles as he can to limit our encounters with Jesus, but when we seek to overcome them and wrestle with the flesh and seek a higher plane it is then that we will hear the master’s voice, Come down for I will dine at your house today.
Each day I must strive to connect with Jesus. I need to be able to see Jesus as he is passing by. I must connect with him and check in with him. I should submit my plans and have him give his approval or disapproval. This is the call of the disciple following the master where ever he directs. Where Christ is not present I must seek to bring his presence, not just as a vehicle but as a command post. Remember Gods command to Joshua every where the foot shall go I shall give you possession. We are to lay hold and build the kingdom and announce to all that this belongs to the Lord. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of.
Jesus promised us that he would be with us always, which is why he gave us his Spirit. When he commands us to walk in the Spirit he is telling us to be aware, to be focused, to be vigilant in our search for him. There is a great old testament image of this found in Numbers 9. After the Israelites escaped from Pharoah they were led by a cloud, which represented the presence of God. This is how Moses describes how the children of God moved.
15On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 16So it was always: the cloud covered it by daya and the appearance of fire by night. 17And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. 18At the command of the LORD the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the LORD they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
Where is the Spirit leading you? Where is Jesus taking you? He who has ears, let him hear. Keep your eyes on Christ.