Today I want us to ask ourself, “Do I really know Him?” (Jesus, that is). This week I’ve rediscovered Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest,” a devotional my dear friend and former mentor Greta recommended to me years ago.
The question we’re asking ourselves today is rooted in the entry for October 20th, called “The Unheeded Secret.” It’s a simple, yet frightening question. And, scary a question as it may be, I think it’s a question worth seriously investigating.
Oswald Chambers declares that,
“The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament, but comes from the systems of the world. The work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God.”
Aren’t our lives consumed with endless energy and activities? Are we not always running from one thing to the next? Even when it comes to religious activities, like community groups and Sunday services, it’s so easy to get caught up in the religiousness of the activities rather than focus on the reason for our religion in the first place.
The question of knowing Jesus hits me hard because I find I often think about God much more than I actually talk to him. It’s reminiscent of a passage in Matthew.
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
It’s worrisome to think that we can get so caught up in doing things that we think are for God that we actually miss out on knowing Him. It’s possible (and common) to be religious without having true faith in the Lord and his will. In fact, it’s even possible to believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord God without ever knowing him personally.
My natural next question is, “what does it look like to know God personally, then?” I once heard a pastor describe that there are two ways that people approach the idea of obedience to God.
- “I’m doing all the right things, so God will accept me and give me grace”
- “Because God accepts me and gives me grace, I will do His will and follow Him”
Clearly, the second approach is the one that we should aim to live by. Our actions should be an outpouring response to the grace and love that God gives us. We have to grasp that grace and own it before we can really begin to serve and follow God. Sometimes, the reason we overload on good “things” and activities is to mask our inability to give up control over certain areas of our lives and submit them to God the Father. But that’s not the way God would have it.
He wants us to come as we are to Him and allow Him to give us His gift of grace, which covers a multitude of our sins. Once we can humble ourselves enough to receive that grace, and we pursue a personal relationship with the giver through prayer and studying the Word, those “things” we did before for religiousness sake will pour out naturally in response to the love and grace we’ve received and accepted.
Which way do you tend to approach the idea of obedience to God? Grace after obedience, or obedience out of grace?