I once heard an amazing analogy. You can tell me that Mike Tyson hits hard, but unless I have experienced the blow for myself, you are only sharing with me someone else’s experience. In the same way, you can tell me that Jesus loves me, but unless I have experienced His love for myself, it is simply second-hand knowledge. In fact, experiencing God’s love first-hand changes your life forever.
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As a former theology student, I sometimes find it difficult to step outside of my “theological” mind to discuss more personal aspects of my daily walk with God. I think as Christians, it’s easy to think about God and to gain knowledge of Him and His Word without ever truly surrendering our hearts to Him in love. True revelation and life-changing power occur when we experience His love for ourselves.
When someone truly encounters God and His presence, their life will never be the same.
Filling our heads with knowledge about faith and religion is easy. It doesn’t require much of us to simply acquire knowledge. We can choose to respond to that knowledge or throw it away without a second thought. Encountering God and His presence, however, requires a response. When you have truly encountered God’s love firsthand, there is no going back. His presence invades your life and changes you from the inside out.
So how do we go from simply knowing of God to actually knowing Him personally?
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:19-22
I am reminded of the Sunday school song “Oh, How I Love Jesus.” It reminds us that we love Him because He first loved us. It is because of this love that we can boldly enter into the presence of God and have a personal relationship with Him.
I find it interesting how many of us keep God at a distance. Perhaps it is an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of thing. We can’t see Him so it’s easy for us to forget that He is always here. He’s with us through each and every moment of our lives. He knows us better than we know ourselves, yet we have trouble developing a deep and meaningful relationship with Him.
Imagine having a friend that you could literally share everything with. Someone who knew what you were going to say before you even said it. Someone who always had your best in mind, who would always be faithful, and would love you no matter what…even if you hurt them. God desires to be that kind of friend to you.
He didn’t create us to simply observe us or lord over us. We were created so that we could have a relationship with Him, and He still desires that relationship even though we have failed Him time and time again. He loves us that much…so much that He sacrificed His Son to make it possible for us to become His children.
God did that for us, yet we still have trouble understanding His love for mankind.
Because of Jesus, we can now boldly approach the throne of God. We can speak to Him directly and experience His love first-hand.
Before Jesus, we could not come before God the way we can now. Our sin separated us from God. We could not come before the King of Kings with blood on our hands. When Jesus died and rose again, our sin was forgiven. When we declare Jesus as Lord of our lives, our debt is no more and our slate is wiped clean.
Not only did Jesus make it possible for us to enter the presence of God, but it is through Him that we can access that presence. Jesus truly is the gate into the presence of our Creator. Because of Him, our hands are no longer dirty with sin. We can approach the throne of God with confidence. Our sin no longer keeps us from having a relationship with God. We now have open communication with Him, which is the way He planned for things to be all along.
Have you personally encountered the love and presence of our Creator?
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.