Above all, God

I have been thinking about why I am a Christian.

Is it because of the benefits of being a believer? Or, is it because of my loving relationship with God which begins now and lasts forever?

If I’m honest, I have tended to focus more on the benefits – everlasting life, answers to prayer, God’s promises, a way of life that is sane and fulfilling, a supportive community of people who believe the same way I do.

Of course, I believe it is important to cultivate a strong relationship with God. Increasingly, that has been my focus in recent years. It has always been a thread in the tapestry of my life.

But this loving relationship is now moving into the forefront of my mind. I believe it has implications for the way I live. And I think it affects the way the church carries out its ministry to people.

Recently, a comment by John Piper, author of God is the gospel, forced me to think: What would heaven by like without Jesus?

Sometimes, we Christians talk about the wonders of heaven – we’ll see our loved ones, there will be no tears, there will be joy unlimited. These are great benefits. But what about Jesus?

We will have a relationship with God that will be at least as wonderful as it was between Adam and Eve and God in the garden of Eden. There they talked as friends.

Nothing in heaven will compare with the joy of being with God – our creator, redeemer, and friend. We will have continual access to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Joy will be piled on joy. No relationship on earth can compare.

The significant thing is that this relationship begins now – here on earth. We will see and understand God much better when we are with him in heaven. But we can begin understanding him now – through spending time with him in prayer, studying God’s ways in the Bible, and obeying his promptings in our daily life.

This thought has been reinforced by chats with a friend about the importance of focusing on God rather than ourselves. And this morning, the visiting preacher said that what we believe about God will influence everything we do.

Do I believe he is the most important person in my life? Do I love him? Do I know he loves me? Am I excited about this? Do I want others to know him the same way?

This should influence the way I talk to people about Jesus.

Escaping hell and having eternal life is important. But far more important is a joyful, loving relationship with God – a relationship that is almost too wonderful to contemplate.

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