Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Personal

                What does it mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? This is something I have been asked to explain, so I am going to write what the Lord showed me and spoke to me in answer to this question. First, however, to understand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we must understand what personal means. When I looked up the word personal in the dictionary, it listed off various ways that the word is applied. It can mean individual and private. It can refer to the private aspects of someone’s life, as well as the individual character traits and personalities of each person. Personal pertains to self. It is the individual person, the whole being from the inside out.

                None of us are alike. We are all individual beings who may have similar, but still very different lives. We have personalities, likes, dislikes, wants, desires, dreams, goals, etc, all specific to whom we are. There are no two people alike on this earth. We are like snowflakes, they may look the same, but each one is different and unique all to itself. God sees us the same way- different and unique all to ourselves. To have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we must understand this truth. When we can grasp that, understanding what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus will come. My walk is not your walk, my experiences are not your experiences, because we are two different people, and each one of us has individual lives.
                “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23
                Jesus speaks to us and shows us that if we desire a personal relationship with Him then we must do two things. First, we must deny ourselves. How does one deny themselves? Can I deny that I live and breathe and exist? Of course not, because I do live and breathe and exist. I am not to deny that I exist or that I have life, but I am to deny everything about myself that is not worthy of Him.  We must deny- that is we must forget ourselves. We must forget our own wants, desires, dreams, and interests and put them to death, which is the next step towards having a personal relationship with Jesus.
                When Jesus spoke these words to the disciples and the people gathered around, they would have heard the word “cross” and knew immediately that Jesus was referring to death. The cross was a symbol of death, then, and it still is today. To take up our cross means that we are willing to take upon death to ourselves. We die to all that is us, as individuals, and we deny any part in our own lives. We die to the whole way of life that we are living, and consciously make the decision to live the way Christ desires us to live.
When we take up our cross we are putting to death all that makes up who we are and take up who He is.
                Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is only possible if we are willing to die to ourselves. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ starts with the individual and ends with the individual. Christianity is not merely a religion; it is a way of life. It is a choice to no longer live for ourselves or to ourselves, but to die to all that defines us so that we may become the express image of Jesus Christ to the world.
                The experiences that each of us go through will differ. No one will ever experience things the same way that you do because no one is like you. You are a snowflake all to yourself. You are a unique creation set apart to be the image of Jesus Christ, and the only way to be that is to deny yourself and take up your cross. But notice, that Jesus says we are to do this daily. This is not a onetime death. It is a continual willingness to lay down who you are so that you can become who He wants you to be. Daily means daily. To have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we must make the choice to deny ourselves, and die to ourselves every day for as long as we are on this earth.
                Each and every day we are given a choice, we can either deny our wants, desires, dreams, goals, plans for the day and take up the death to self, or, we can choose to live as we desire and leave Christ to the side. If you want a personal relationship with Jesus, then you must make the choice to do what He asks of you- deny and die every day. There are some days when I struggle with this, because some days are about me and what I want to accomplish. But, because I have chosen to have this personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He always leads me back to His words- deny and die. When I do, I am lifted up and He is magnified in my life. I begin to understand Him in ways I never thought possible. I begin to experience Him in ways that I never imagined, and I begin to have the life that He intended me to have this day. All of this happened because I made the choice to have a personal relationship with Him today.
                Christianity is not an experience; it is not a religion that we practice. Christianity is a way of life. It is a life lived for Jesus Christ as an individual person who has chosen to deny and die to all that they are. It is a choice we make, not a religion. My personal experience, my personal relationship with Jesus Christ is just that- personal. Who I am, what I am, what I do, it all belongs to Him. He laid down before me the path that I needed to take to have a personal relationship with Him, the choice is in my hands, the choice is left to me- the individual.

                A personal relationship with Jesus cannot be put into a neat little box with directions, because we cannot put Him in a box. He wants to have a personal, individually designed, made just for you relationship. But the only way that can happen is if you make the choice to follow Him by denying yourself, and dying to all that you are. When we do this, we will begin to have that personal relationship. There really is no other way. The only way to have this kind of relationship is to choose to have one. I cannot tell you to take these five easy steps and it will happen, or say this prayer and it will happen. No, the only way to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is to choose it.

                I pray that no matter where you are or who you are that you will understand that having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ starts with you. You must make the choice yourself and you must then choose to deny and die to all that you are so that you can experience all that He is. I pray that through the Word of God you will daily make the choice to die and to deny all but Him. We all have a daily choice; it is up to us to choose which way we will go. In Jesus Name, to Him be all the glory, honor and praise, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.