Here’s the principle: the more you know a person, the more important that person becomes in your life.
The more you know a person, the stronger and closer your relationship with that person becomes; and if that’s true of our relationships with other people, then it’s also true of our relationship with God.
God deserves first place in our lives. And He wants our closest and strongest relationship to be with Him. But if we’re going to grow in our relationship with God, that means we have know more about God. We have to know God better than we know anyone else.
This fall, we’re taking our 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders about through a series called Knowing God Better. We’re looking at what the Bible has to say about the character of God. But the goal of this study is not simply to learn facts about God. The goal is to understand God in a way that deepens our appreciation and love for Him, that deepens our relationship with Him. The goal is to understand God in a way that motivates us to become more like Him.
Knowing God is a Big Deal
Paul talks about the importance of this pursuit in Philippians 3. He says…
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
You can tell that Paul placed a pretty high value on knowing Christ. But there’s a piece of information about Paul’s background that makes his statement even more significant—Paul was a Jew.
And you say, “So what? Big deal. Practically everyone in the Bible was a Jew.”
While that’s true, we have to think about it from their perspective. The Jews were God’s chosen people. They were the nation that God had chosen from among all the nations of the earth to be His special people to represent Him to the world. And the Jews were very proud of this fact. In fact, many Jews believed that just because they were Jews they would be going to heaven.
It would be the same as if we believed we could go to heaven just because we’re growing up in America, or just because your family goes to this church.
But Paul was different from many of the other Jewish people because not only was He a Jew, but Paul was also considered a “righteous Jew.” Paul obeyed the commands of the law. He even obeyed the extra commands that the Pharisees and rabbis had added to the law. And he lists all of the things that would have made him special.
“If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
Paul basically says that if anyone had a right to think that he had it “going on” spiritually, it was him. But even though he had all of these reasons to boast about who he was, the things he had, and the things he had done, he says that ultimately those things were nothing to him.
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
In other words, he says…
“When I found out about Jesus…when I found out about the truth that I was a sinner, separated from God, who couldn’t do anything about his sin…when I found out that Jesus had paid the price that I deserved to pay…when I found out that by trusting in Him, I could have eternal life…when I found all of this out, the things I valued became like nothing to me!”
Not only that, but Paul also goes on to say,
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Paul says, “Now that I know Christ, even the things that I don’t have, even the things I might want, even those things are worthless to me compared to the value of knowing Jesus better.” In short, there was nothing in Paul’s life that was more important to him than developing his relationship with God.”
“Great! Way to go, Paul!” What does that have to do with me?”
That’s an important question, and it’s one that Paul answers. He says…
“Brethren, join in following my example.”
In other words, developing your relationship with God needs to be the most important thing in your life too. The Bible commands it.
In our Children’s Ministries, one of the things we believe it’s important for every child to know is that God has one overarching goal for each of our lives. In fact, I tell kids that I ought to be able to wake them up from a dead sleep at four o’clock in the morning, and they ought to be able to tell me God’s goal for their lives. This goal is found in places like Romans 8:28-29, Colossians 1, and others. We say it like this: God’s wants us to become like Christ.
Don’t miss that. God wants us to become like Christ. That’s his top priority for our lives.
As you look at Jesus’ life, you see that there was nothing more important to Him than His relationship with God the Father. So, if it was important to Jesus, and if our goal is to become like Jesus, then developing our relationship with God needs to be the most important thing in our lives as well.
But what does developing this relationship look like?
Step 1: You have to begin the relationship.
To begin your relationship with God, there has to be a definite point in your life when you acknowledge that you’re a sinner who can’t do anything about your sins. You have to recognize that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for your sins completely and that his resurrection proved that His payment was accepted by the Father. And you have to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to be your Savior and Lord. If you do that, the Bible tells us that you can know with certainty that God will answer that prayer.
If you’ve never done that before, or if you have questions about that, let’s talk about that. Contact me, and we’ll set up a time when I can show you from God’s Word how you can know that you’re on your way to heaven.
Step 2: Spend time on your relationship.
If you’ve already trusted Christ as Savior, let me ask you a question. Can you really know someone unless you spend time with that person? Can you really know someone if you don’t talk with that person? The answer is obviously no.
Our relationship with God works the same way. In order to develop our relationship with Him, we have to spend time with Him. Of course, we can’t sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with God over breakfast. But there are other things we can do. It boils down to this: read and pray and then obey.
For as complex as our lives often are, the things you do develop your relationship with God are pretty simple. Spend time listening to God by reading His Word. Spend time talking to God in prayer. Spend time living out God’s principles.
Something amazing happens as we spend time praying and reading God’s Word. Not only do we come to understand God better, but we also come to understand ourselves better.
Let’s Get Personal
I’d like to ask you some questions.
- How are you developing your relationship with Him? Are you? What are you doing to get to know Him better?
- Are you spending time in prayer each day? Is it something you’re initiating or are you waiting for someone else to suggest it?
- Are you spending time in God’s Word regularly?
- What do you spend more time doing—reading the Bible or watching TV, playing video games?
- Are you taking the initiative to listen to God through His Word?
If you’re not doing these things, or if you’re not doing these things enough, what steps are you going to take to change? Let me make some recommendations…
- Talk to someone you respect and ask them to help you. Really, make a point of doing this.
- Ask them to help you set up a consistent time for you to read the Bible and pray each day.
- Ask them to help you spend more time with God than you do in front of a TV or a video game.
- Ask them to help you to grow in your relationship with God.
Based on the authority of Scripture, I can promise you that you will never be sorry that you did that. You will never be sorry that you chose to get closer to Him.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about some specific attributes of God that we need to understand and emulate better.
What action steps for developing your relationship with God would you suggest?