Developing a Deeper relationship with God; Developmental Stages
Many people think that by acknowledging Jesus that they will have eternal life. But Jesus made it very clear that this is not what gets us to heaven. In Mathew 7 Jesus tells His disciples this;
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matt 7:21-23 (ESV)
There are many people who believe Jesus and preach His word, but this isn’t what He is looking for. Jesus said He will tell them to depart because “I never knew you”. Jesus doesn’t want just our belief and obedience, He wants to know us, He wants a relationship with us. Unfortunately many people miss this. And many who do understand, don’t realize the dept of relationship we can have and so aren’t as effective evangelizing for Him as they could be. Many people focus on doing things for Christ and not being with Christ. We all need to develop our relationships with Christ deeper, and as we do, we will become more effective Christians.
It all starts with accepting Christ, believing in Him, that He is God, and, that out of His love for us He became human and took the punishment for our sin and died on the cross for us, and that God the Father raised Him from the dead so we too can survive death. If you truly believe this, Romans 10:9 says to “believe in your heart”, you are saved. This is the beginning of our relationship, now it’s up to us to develop it and grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. There are several stages we grow through in our relationship with Christ, the first stage is Potter-clay. An example of this stage is in Jeremiah 18;
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jer 18:5-6 (ESV)
This is the first stage that all Christians have to go through. Although the bible says that we are wonderfully and fearfully made, once we get into the world, the world starts to shape us. So God needs to reshape us back to what He originally intended. Being clay isn’t fun. This process can be painful, we may need to give up some worldly things we enjoy, but when He has reshaped us, we can move on to the next stage, which is Shepherd-sheep
Jesus said in John 10;
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 (ESV)
Ok, being a sheep may not be much, but at least now we are alive, and this is another necessary stage in our relationship. This is where we learn to listen, recognize, and trust His voice. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can get to the next stage; Master-servant.
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35(ESV)
Being a servant may not sound like much, but if you are going to serve someone, who better than the all powerful, loving God of the universe! This is the stage where we learn to serve God and do His will. Unfortunately, this is as far as most people and churches get. They get stuck on this verse and try to be the best servant. The problem with this is it is not an evangelical relationship. Churches will teach that if we are real obedient, we can aspire to becoming a good servant. This may be good, but it is only attractive to people who have a gift for service or helps. This is why most churches can get people in and teach them salvation, but eventually many new Christians get tired of church. They are looking for more, they want something that they are missing in the world and although being a servant is nice, but it isn’t what they are looking for, what they need. But this is not the deepest relationship we can have with Christ. He wants more too. This is only the last of the developmental stages we go through in our relationship with Christ. From here we can go on to a more rewarding evangelical relationship with God. And through these evangelical relationships we are better able to serve God and bring others to Him.