Developing an Intimate Relationship with Jesus Christ

Developing an Intimate Relationship with Jesus Christ

Last week we heard God’s proposal to us to become the Bride of Christ. If we accept His proposal and choose to follow the Holy Spirit, He will prepare us for the Bridegroom.

In the meantime, how can we develop a close, intimate relationship with Jesus? We can’t see Him. There are times when we can sense His Presence, but that is not intimacy. Intimacy includes knowing Christ’s thoughts and feelings. How do we learn those things?

Philippians 3:10-12 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

We “press on” or pursue ardently the things we desire. Synonyms for “desire” are: burning, longing, craving, hunger, yearning, appetite, passion, and love. Developing an intimate relationship with Jesus is a process that begins with a desire; in other words, with a passion for Jesus.

Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

Desire drives people to seek fame, wealth, romance, success, happiness, etc. Desire drives people to make choices and changes in pursuit of their goal.

Desire is at the heart of following Jesus. If you have that desire, you are on the pathway of pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus. It is a life-long pursuit.

Luke 9:23 Then he [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Unfortunately, some, who call themselves Christians, simply lack a sincere desire to FOLLOW Jesus. They do not want to deny self or take up a cross daily. That does not appeal to them. They are satisfied with their belief that they were baptized and are going to Heaven, so they make no effort or sacrifice to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Unconsciously, they risk hearing this response from Jesus when He returns:

Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you that work iniquity.’”

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me…” This means we have a choice. It is a calculated decision to follow Jesus—not an emotion, but a deliberate choice.

The same is true for love. Love is not an emotion, it is a deliberate choice to deny self, to take a more difficult path of life, and to sacrifice your own wishes for someone else. A mother’s love is a good example of a self-sacrificial love.

It is one thing to express love to someone we can touch, see, and feel, but how do we develop an intimate relationship with someone we CAN’T touch, nor see, nor feel? How can we show the LORD that we really love Him?

Psalm 116:12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?

The psalmist is saying "How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? How can I show him how much He means to me?"

If you have ever been in love, then you already know the answer to these questions. Think about it. What do lovers do?

For one thing, lovers talk, sometimes all night. Do you know why? Because they are building their relationship on something deeper than physical involvement—something far more intimate than physical love.

And that’s the kind of relationship the LORD wants with us. He wants us to go beyond the superficial. Talking to the LORD is called prayer. He’s not only interested in our concerns, He’s interested in our companionship, our trust, and our love. He knows all about us and He wants us to know all about Him. Prayer is a conversation, which also includes listening to the Holy Spirit all day long and doing what He says.

Deuteronomy 7:12-15 And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.

As they talk, lovers also repeatedly express how much they love each other.

We can tell the LORD we love Him for who He is, for how He watches over us, and for all the blessings He gives us. But, the greatest blessing of them all is the blessing of having Him in our life.

We can express our love for the LORD through praise, thanksgiving, singing, meditation, and by dedicating our life to serving Him! This is our act of worship.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Lovers also write love letters. They keep the letters and reread them often. Many of the Psalms are expressions of love for God. We can use them as our letter to God, and read them out loud during our time with Him. But the whole Bible is God’s love letter to us. Read it and reread it. That is how we get to know God’s thoughts, character, commands, purposes, promises, past dealings with people, future plans, and His love for us.

Lovers also do things together. God wants us to walk with Him. He walks in the light and in Him there is no darkness. Therefore, we also must walk in the light to be with Him.

1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light; in him is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

When we walk in the “light” with God, we walk in obedience, and we experience the same things He does. We share the intimate things Jesus experiences—His joys, His suffering, His rejection, and His comfort.

Therefore, we can express our love for the LORD by living for Him. That’s how the writer of Psalm 116 answered his question, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?”

He went on to say in verses 16-19 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

In other words, the writer of this psalm says, "I will fulfill all my vows to the LORD. I am going to be his servant forever. I am going to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to Him in all circumstances. I will not be ashamed of my desire for God. I want the whole world to know that I am going to live the rest of my life for the LORD!"

However, expressing love for Jesus is more than confessing it with our mouth. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Just as important as what Jesus said in this verse is what He did not say. Jesus didn’t say, “If you keep my commandments, then you love me.” You can’t turn a cause and effect statement around without changing its meaning. “If you keep my commandments, then you love me” means that love is produced by obedience or love flows out of obedience.

Some relate to Jesus that way. They obey Him, not because they love Him or His Law, but because they think obedience will prevent them from being punished in Hell.

Jesus said, If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” In other words, love produces obedience. It is the result of genuine love. It is possible to obey Jesus words and not love Him. But it is impossible to love Him and not obey Him!

The Apostles had a three year intimate relationship with Jesus. They were saddened and dismayed when He told them He was going away. But Jesus also said, that when He left, He would still be with them in a more intimate way than they had experienced. The Father would send the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Christ—to be in them! He would lead them, comfort them, and bring to their remembrance everything Jesus had said.

The same experience is promised to us. The Holy Spirit is the Lord Jesus Christ in us. The Holy Spirit, gives us an ever-conscious walk with Christ. He gives us spiritual direction (leading, guiding, comforting, correcting). We are to love and obey the Holy Spirit. Then our actions will take on a deliberate Christ-like look because all of our thoughts, words, and deeds are brought under the penetrating light of His truth.

Therefore, to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ desires to fill us with Himself, but we must be a willing participant. Don’t be afraid to ask the Father for His Holy Spirit. You are seeking and asking for and intimate relationship with the LORD, not a supernatural gift, as some teach (although a supernatural gift may be given, too, for the common good of the Body of Christ).

1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13 "What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

I find that I need to ask God every day to fill my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with Himself. I need Him to rule over my soul (my mind, will, emotions). I need His grace to deny myself, to take up my cross, and to follow Him. I also need His power to be a witness for Christ. I need Him to produce His character, the fruit of the Spirit in me. For apart from Him, I can’t do anything but sin and fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

In summary, all of us pursue whatever or whomever we desire the most and choose to love. Loving Jesus is not a one-time experience. We must continually work at developing this intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, as much, or more, than we work at developing other relationships with our spouse, family, and friends.

As we serve the LORD in joyful, peaceful, loving ways, exhibiting all the fruit of the Spirit, people will notice we have been with Jesus because they will see Jesus in us.

Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Does this describe you? It should if you are filled with the Spirit and following Jesus.

Following Jesus, loving Him, being filled with His Spirit are all choices we make. We will not choose them if we do not desire them. If we love anything, anyone, or ourselves more than Jesus, our decisions and choices will center on whatever or whomever we love more. That is why Jesus said we cannot serve two masters.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…”

Is Jesus your master or are you the master of your life? Every day we choose whom we will serve. Our choice is based on whom we desire, whom we love. It is a daily choice to deny self, pick up a cross, and follow Jesus. What do you choose today? What will you choose tomorrow and the next day?