- Who is this person?
- Why do you know this person?
- How well would you say you know this person on a scale of 1 - 10?
- How well would you say this person knows you on a scale of 1 - 10?
Before getting into the purpose of the exercise above, I told a story. My story:
When I was a kid, my passion was baseball. I started playing at the age of 4 and played for about 10 years.
On top of being absolutely obsessed with baseball, I was always a self-aware child. I knew early on that--even though I was pretty good at baseball--I never had a future playing professionally. However, my obsession was so deep that I dreamed of being a big-league scout. I collected baseball cards as a kid and memorized every stat. I knew the discrepancies between a player's stats on one brand of card against other brands. I was what you would call fanatical.
This lasted for years...until my second year of kid's pitch. That year, the coaches son--who was older than those of us on the team--pitched practice often. One day he pitched way too far inside on me and pegged me right in the kidney. I had a bruise that looked exactly like the stitches of a baseball and hurt for weeks. This one incident caused me to have some insecurity when going up to the plate. I kept it together for the rest of that year, but the next year I was playing with kids older than I and the fear took over. My ability to hit nose-dived and at the same time I was "blessed" with a coach who had no patience.
That year, my seventh grade year, I experienced for the first time the consequences of fear and insecurity. The coach benched me, only to let me play the requisite 1 plate appearance per game. Some games I didn't get that, especially if the score was close. Also that year I broke my toe in practice. Sliding in to home plate our catcher stepped on my foot and I felt my toe crack and couldn't walk for weeks. The coach saw me as nothing but a scared, whiny baseball wannabe...
I signed up to play one more year, hoping I would get on a different team...but I didn't. I "rode the pine" that whole year and the perspective of the coach began to take root in my identity.
What didn't help was that I assumed all of my friends on the team saw me the same way, and they were my classmates. So I spent from my eighth grade year through high school graduation living as though all of the people who called themselves my friends thought of me as worthless.
Two things started to change this attitude.
The first thing that happened was a mission trip to Brazil. After my tenth grade year I traveled with Focus on the Family to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for two weeks. While there we had tons of fun and experienced many different things, but two specific experiences in Brazil changed the course of my life forever. 1) I got to experience worshiping God with people who didn't speak the same language as me. We sang some songs that both groups knew, and hearing God worshiped in Portuguese and English simultaneously was opened my mind to truly understand what God meant when he said "all nations, tribes, and tongues" would praise Him. 2) We visited Rio de Janeiro's landfill.
This doesn't sound like it would be a life altering experience at all, but when we pulled in we saw 5000 people who called this dump their home. They ate what they could find. They drank the waste runoff. They couldn't bathe, and many had festering wounds. In fact we met a guy without an eyeball whose eye socket was an open mass of flesh and puss. We also met a man whose leg was missing below the knee--not a neat stump by the way but shredded hamburger looking flesh that was putrid and sickening.
But in the midst of this, a missionary had set up shop. In fact, she had chosen to live among these people. This opened up my mind to the possibility that God might have something crazy like this for me.
The second thing that happened was college.
In college I met and had friends who were genuinely interested in me as a person. I lived with some of them and worshiped with many more. One of those friends was my roommate, another was Melissa. Intense study of Scripture coupled with the fellowship of people who were without-a-doubt committed to me like I was to them created an atmosphere where I believed God could--and would--do anything!
Through these friendships and experiences I began to know Christ in a completely different way.
I also began to let Christ know me. In the development of this relationship is where and when I finally realized what it meant to live my life abiding in Christ as an vine abides in a branch.
Conclusion and Connection
For us, if we know Christ like we know Hillary Clinton or Hugh Jackman or Iron Man we don't know Him well enough for His character and life to abide in us. Even more, we cannot bear the fruits of the Spirit if we only know Christ as "some guy who lived in the past."
But, if we know Him intimately. If we are connected to His Word and cannot live without that relationship, that is when we can truly realize our purpose and live as we were intended.
How do you work on making your relationship with Christ that important?