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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Divine Meeting Places

I have always loved baths. Showers are nice; in fact, my college roommate can attest to my speed and efficiency in showering. But, relaxing in warm soapy water is just terrific. Until this morning, I had forgotten that one of my Christmas gifts was bath salts. After I cooled down from my workout, I took a handful of bath salts, and added it to the warm water waiting for me. I loved every second.

There is something else about baths though: I have grown more in my relationship with the Lord while sitting in the bathtub than I have sitting in a church pew. Isn’t that weird? In church, you might think that you’re closer to God or may absorb religiosity through spiritual transfusion or by osmosis. For Christians, that’s simply not the way it works.

I was a teenager when I started to realize that being a Christian is not about religion or statements of faith. It’s not about showing up at church, doing more right things than wrong, or understanding every mystery of the universe; being a Christian is about having a relationship with God.

In relationships, there has to be an introduction, a period of getting to know each other through dialogue. Commonalities are helpful to encourage the conversation. You talk, you listen, you think, and you consider. The offspring of developing relationships are credibility, trust, concern, and love.

Religion is different from a relationship. Religion is man’s effort to reach God through any variety of means: church attendance, a certain number of prayers each day, read the bible through in a year, etc. To be sure, these can all be expressions of the relationship; but, without the relationship they are empty and useless. Religious actions don’t satisfy our deepest inner need; trust me, I know.

People cannot enjoy a relationship with God—and there is a relationship to be enjoyed—outside of a knowing Jesus Christ and asking forgiveness of sin. Why? Because of our wrong actions, or sin, the words that we would use to talk to God simply bounce off the wall. Just like the juice from a bad orange is bad, the words of a sinner (like me) cannot reach God because he is completely unadulterated by sin. He is free from imperfection. Only through the cleansing process that Jesus Christ provides for sin, can we begin to approach God with our thoughts and words and actions.

This relationship with God is more than asking for favors: Lord do this…Lord bless this…Lord, etc. God wants the Christian to interact with Him; ask him questions and wait for answers. He wants authentic people to read the Bible with authenticity. We don’t have to put on a show for Him—boy, isn't that freeing.

While reading about God in the Bible, I’ve asked Him, “What are you talking about here,” or, “Lord, why is this in the Bible and what does it mean to me?” In spending time (in and out of the bath), I have laughed, cried, got angry, got sad, or blushed—all while interacting with God—just like I would in a relationship with you.

It’s politically correct to say that my relationship with God is personal; and it is to the point that I can’t tell you to have an authentic relationship with God. But, what a load of trash we’ve been dealt by politicians and cultural influencers who seek to save face in the midst of opposition, or who use the ‘god-card’ to their advantage.

My relationship with God is as intrinsic to my life as is my relationship with my wife. I can’t separate the two. I’m a happily married man. I’m not just ‘JR’. I’m JR+1. I have lost my individuality. I love telling people how happily married we are. I love telling people how terrific she is to me and how she blesses my socks off. I can’t keep it in and I can’t even lie to myself about it. When I see a female who I would otherwise view as attractive, I can’t deny that I’m married—it’s who I am. It is a defining relationship. My relationship with God is also defining.

There is nothing special about the bathtub, but for me it’s become more than just warmth and cleansing. The bathtub has become a divine meeting place. Because I have already been introduced, it’s not hard to pick up the conversation where we left off. Sometimes, I read the Bible; othertimes, I begin by praying or asking the Lord a question. I always have reasons to be thankful; and let me share this morning’s with you. For years, I have prayed for that a good friend would also come to know the Lord in a relationship. And, though I haven’t seen him in years, I have just recently heard of his faith. What a reason to celebrate and thank the Lord!!!

I am convinced that any person who genuinely and authentically asks everyday day for a few months, “Jesus Christ, if you’re real I want to know you; please show yourself to me,” will encounter the invitation into a relationship with God. I am certain that when sincere people ask to be sought by the Lord Jesus, they will be.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you know, or what you’ve done; meeting God is the most significant decision you’ll ever make. You can learn more about it by clicking here. It starts with an offer of forgiveness and the Lord is waiting to take you up on it. Soon enough, you can have your own meeting place with God.

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Thoughtful Readers Speak:

I am convinced that any person who genuinely and authentically asks everyday day for a few months, “Jesus Christ, if you’re real I want to know you; please show yourself to me,” will encounter the invitation into a relationship with God.

I reepated your experiment but I was unable to duplicate your results. Can you explain this discrepancy?
Let's consider the options:

A. I am wrong.

B. You're a liar. You really didn't ask "everyday day for a few months..."

C. You did ask and God answered by presenting an invitation for you to know Him; but, you were too distracted by something else, perhaps pride or selfishness, to notice. I mention those because they often distract me.

D. You did ask, God answered, but when He did, you convinced yourself that His answer wasn't good enough.

E. Perhaps, in God's plan, you asked, and finding me and this blog was His answer. If it is, well, God help us both.
A would seem to be the simplest. I understand that you might prefer B but keep in mind you have no evidence of that. Or of the others, really.
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