We live in a time where much is made about having a personal relationship with Jesus. The ministry I lead is largely focused on helping people learn to relate to God in a very relational, intimate and experiential way. This represents a move away from more non-relational ways of relating to God focused on religious forms and the application of scriptural principle. Or rather, I should say, this represents a return to the very scriptural principle that our God is the Living God, that he talks to people, that he makes himself known in relational, experiential and intimate ways.
The danger in this is that we allow ourselves to become too familiar with God. Even our closest experiences of Jesus should never lead us to reduce him. God is not our peer. Jesus is not just one of our buddies. If any of us were to see him as he is we would fall at his feet as dead men. His glory, if even moderately revealed, would pin us to the floor. His eyes are like fire. His words pierce as a sword. His voice is as the sound of many waters.
He makes us his friends, yet it remains friendship with Almighty God.
Yes–he has made himself so accessible to us. He speaks to us in that still, small voice. He indwells us by his Spirit. We who know him have learned of his gentleness and of his joy. We know his hand upon our shoulder. We know his laugh. We know his wit.
Yet he remains King of all.
Our prayer begins “Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” The beginning place of intimacy is to turn our attention to his holiness in reverence. Though we draw near and experience his nearness in return, though his presence brings fulness of joy, though we taste and see that he is good, we never graduate from the intensity of knowing his grandeur. All of heaven cries out “Holy, holy, holy.” The twenty-four elders continually bow down before him.
In all of our pursuit of personal relationship with Jesus, let’s not neglect the reality of his majesty. Our personal relationship needs to live and breathe within a context informed and shaped by an increasing awareness of who he truly is. Scripture serves to anchor us in this way.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:15–20, NKJV)
To read this, reflect upon it, pray through it with thanksgiving and praise–to meditate upon Jesus, allowing these words to shape our thoughts of him: this kind of devotion brings our personal relationship with Jesus into right context. For we are beginning to see him as he is, as the image of the invisible God, not merely as the image we have formed of him in our own minds, the image we are comfortable with, the image we can understand and contain and perhaps even control.
Let’s think big thoughts about Jesus, thoughts informed and shaped by scripture. Then let’s pursue personal relationship by the Spirit with that Jesus.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah” (Psalm 24:7–10, NKJV)