Our Close Relationship
I want to summarize what’s been discussed so far. The question I’ve been trying to answer relates to spending eternity in heaven. Jesus will one day judge us worthy of heaven or condemn us to hell. What will be the basis of His decision? What will Jesus look at in our lives when He makes His decision? Will He look back to determine whether we made a decision one day to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, to repent of our sins, to say a prayer acknowledging Him as the Son of God and Lord of our lives, to receive Him into our hearts and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Will He judge us based on whether we did this transaction once upon a time? Or, will He judge the quality of the relationship He has with us, how we lived, and how we worked our faith into our lives? Will Jesus look not only at whether we did the transaction but also at what we did with our lives afterward? Will he base His judgment on more than just whether we received Him into our hearts one day? Is it really true that, once saved, you’re always saved?
It seems to me that Jesus will judge whether we lived our lives as His followers, whether we lived faith-filled lives according to the Holy Spirit and brought His power to bear in our circumstances. He will determine whether we lived our lives as He instructed. When Jesus returns, will He say that He has a close, personal, and intimate relationship with you? What does it mean to have such a relationship with Jesus? Here’s something to think about when considering your answer.
Let’s say you were interested in someone who is very popular and you have followed his life. Let’s also say that there is much information available about him. Maybe this person is a great leader, like the president of a great nation. Because you want to know him, you have read everything written about him and watched every video and movie about him. You believe you know everything there is to know about this person. But would you now conclude that you have a relationship with him? If you walked up to that person on the street and shook his hand, would he know you? Could you really consider yourself to have any kind of relationship with him?
We can all agree that knowing everything about someone is different from having a relationship with him. So if you read the Bible, attend church, participate in a Bible study, behave with the highest of moral standards, and serve the poor, does that mean you have a relationship with Jesus? Maybe—but then again, maybe not.
I guess the real question is whether you do these activities with Jesus. When you do these things, do you at the same time consider Him, follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and enjoy being in His presence? Do you listen to Him and for Him as you do these activities? If you do, it’s starting to sound more like having a relationship with Him, rather than just having knowledge of Him. If, during all your activities, you are not doing them with Jesus, then you may be doing a whole lot of good things, but you aren’t developing a relationship with Jesus.
Let’s say you decide to spend a week with your best friend from out of town. You spend the entire week with him (physically in his presence), but never talk to him, interact with him, or introduce him to anyone. You know your friend exists and that he’s with you, but if you’re not interacting with him, you’re certainly not developing a relationship with him. This would be weird behavior, indeed. But in fact, is this how you sometimes treat Jesus? You know Jesus said He would always be with you, but are you failing to pay attention to Him, interact with Him, and introduce Him to anyone? I have days like that, and I hate it. I don’t like admitting this, but it’s true. And yes, it scares me. It makes me want to run back to Jesus and ask for His forgiveness and repent of my evil ways.
Maybe you’re thinking, I go to church and am in a Bible study, so that’s good enough. It’s not a question of good enough, however, but of whether the Holy Spirit is alive in you and working in your heart, and whether the things you do are manifestations of God’s love in you. You may be doing good, but if you’re doing so with your own strength instead of the outpouring of your heart, it’s possible you’re just doing good but not developing a relationship with Jesus.
I believe Jesus is calling us to a deep, close, and personal relationship with Him, in which He doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone. He expects us to keep our relationship with Him number one. I think most Christians understand this, but we’re taught, “once saved, always saved,” which suggests there’s no risk or consequence to intentionally ignoring Jesus and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. But what if Jesus said that the consequences of not developing a personal relationship with Him are that you cannot go to heaven? Would you then change your walk with Him? Would you live your life differently?