I was recently asked, “Why do you so often end your public prayers with ‘we love you’ rather than the more formal ‘in Jesus’ name’?” And it’s a good question. I cannot count the number of times I heard Dad, at the beginning of a worship service, say, “If you haven’t told the Lord you love Him yet today, tell him now.” And so often, I hadn’t told Him. I needed the reminder, even sitting in a pew, that worship, church, serving, and even reading and studying scripture are all about Jesus. It is not that I don’t know Jesus, love Him, and want to please Him. It is, however, so easy to make Christianity an impersonal belief system, a series of steps to take, or an ethic to embrace.

We can even lose Jesus in the gospel. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, described the blessing of eternal life, and confronted her sin and need for a Savior, her mind naturally went to her understanding of religion. She basically asks, “Where do I go to worship, which temple mount? Where do I go to meet God?” In his answer, Jesus declares the end of ritual worship. “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” (John 4:23). I love her response, which basically boils down to, the Messiah (Christ) is coming, and He has all the answers. “I who speak to you am he.” A person you can meet, and know, and have a relationship with. A person who knows you and loves you. Remember what He said earlier? “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you…” The wonderful truth is that salvation is knowing Jesus.

Paul, of course, understood both the temptation to reduce Christianity to keeping the law (read Galatians), and the reality that Christianity is Christ. His ministry was characterized by his decision to “know nothing among you (Corinthians) except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1). Jesus prayed in John 17, “3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Read Peter and Paul’s sermons in the book of Acts and you will see they are introducing people to Jesus.

We are taking this whole year to look at the Life of Christ in the Gospels. We need to be sure that we don’t approach scripture as simply a handbook on how to make good choices. Remember what Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5, “39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” You have the scriptures that tell you who I am, but you don’t see. I pray that you, like me, will study the scriptures asking, what do I see of Jesus here? What about Him fills my heart and satisfies my soul? Which of His excellencies has captured my affections? How does His presence convict and humble me, while cleansing and exalting me?

Friend, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Let’s not settle for less than knowing Jesus. Don’t settle for His worldview, His ethic, or His counsel without HIM. He’s worthy. And if you don’t know Him, I’d love to introduce you.


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