My first waking moments start with meeting him wherever I am, whether it's in a hotel room on the road or at home in my den. This is the time when I am most alert and alive. It's an acknowledgment of his presence and his sovereignty and his love, the time when I talk to Jesus eye to eye and worship the Father for who he is.
I read his word in Scripture and visualized him speaking the same words to me in a modern setting with modern language. I know that he is present in all of my activities throughout the day, so there is an acknowledgment that he will be a part of everything I do and everything I think. It's more than a relationship but a companionship. A relationship is on and off, but a companionship is alive all the time because he lives in me and walks beside me every moment of every day. I desire for him to enjoy my life, and that I would be a loyal friend to him wherever I am and whatever I am involved in.
As I come to situations, circumstances, decision-making, and meeting people, I desire to have an awareness of his presence and check in with him during the day. Some days I may go for hours without this actively happening. I just think you develop a mindset to look back and to look ahead in order to have the assurance that He has been a part of it and will be a part of the future whether you want him to be there or not. It's a lifestyle and the mindset that follows the Scriptures of “come to me,” “learn from me,” and “fix your eyes on me” so His joy may be in you. The truth is because of his presence he experiences our life with us, now that an incredible truth to ponder.
Q: Why do you think we too often see our Christian lives as performance-based rather than relationally-based?
We are living in a performance driven society where everything is based on the curve. You're constantly being graded and everything is achievement oriented. From the time you understand this force, it becomes more and more drilled into you. Relationships take time and, most of all, risk. It’s much easier to perform a task than to develop a relationship. God wants people to be involved in being real with each other and be in relationships that are genuine and filled with integrity. With Jesus and others, risk is the path to certainty. If you don't risk, then you'll never be sure that relationships are real and sustained. This is where so many opposites come into play. In order to be a leader, you must be a servant. To be a true follower of Jesus requires looking at life in a whole different way. You make choices every day to follow his lead rather than your own common sense or instincts. Jesus said my sheep hear my voice and they follow me. So as we live our life in this interactive companionship with Jesus, it requires looking at him and stepping out onto thin ice, or as Peter was encouraged to do, by walk on the water to Jesus.
Q: We often think of Jesus as being condemning, but He was nothing like that with His disciples, was He?
As I read in the Scriptures about Jesus’ relationship with his disciples, there was a tremendous amount of patience with these numbskulls. They were very numb to what was happening around them. Jesus was teaching a whole new way of life than what they were used to experiencing. Jesus lived an upside down life and was encouraging them to follow him in the same way. You have to go back and understand the culture that they lived in to see how incredibly upside down Jesus was turning everything. He wasn't condemning people except those who were religious fanatics or cruel to little children. He loved the disciples and corrected them, but he realized that they were not filled with his Holy Spirit yet, so their spiritual insights were not fully developed yet. When they got connected to Jesus after the resurrection, then the Holy Spirit helped them to see Jesus clearly and connect with him and live life on the highest level. So there is no condemnation, only corrective love.
Q: What do you mean when you talk about not only accepting Jesus as a Savior, but as a friend?
There is such a reverence to Christ and a loyalty to his sovereignty that some people like me keep him at arm’s length in the sky as a royal judge. They see him as a task master who requires them to shape up and get to work. They're not comfortable sitting at his feet and resting. They have no time to learn from him because they're too busy learning about theology and doing all kinds of benevolent things for others. They're becoming disciples on their own efforts and the have never been taught the first step of how to follow him as the living person he is and the friend that he wants to be.