Tag Archives: Relationship

I believe in Jesus Christ

Say what you will about the state of our culture.  Personally, I think that one we have going for us is that—for better or for worse—people do not take the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” lightly.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” implies much more than an affirmation of the existence of an historical person.  It implies a whole set of beliefs, a certain lifestyle.  To proclaim belief in Jesus Christ is a bold statement.

Why?  Because “belief” means more than you might realize on the surface.

You can’t believe in a dead person.  Many admirable men and women have gone before us, and we can certainly acknowledge their achievements and seek to emulate them, but we would not say, for example, “I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.”  It sounds weird, right?  We could certainly say, “I believe in what MLK Jr. stood for,” or, “I believe we should all try to be more like him,” but to say “I believe in him” today sounds odd to us.  And it should.  You can’t believe (present-tense) in a person that is not alive.

So when you say, “I believe in Jesus,” you’re saying that you believe Jesus is alive today.  That’s huge; and that by itself would be enough to make you pause and reflect before speaking, but it goes even deeper.

When you profess belief in Jesus, you’re professing belief in a living person, but this belief means more than acknowledging the existence of a living person.  Think about the people you know in your life today.  I have a close friend named Jaclyn.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn,” of course implies a lot more than if I were to simply say, “I believe that a person named Jaclyn exists today.”  We all know this from experience.  For me to say, “I believe in Jaclyn” means that I have confidence in the person that Jaclyn is.  It means that I know her on some sort of deeper level; and it means that I trust her based on my relationship with her.

Apply this to the claim, “I believe in Jesus Christ” and you will spend your lifetime realizing the implications.  Do we have confidence in the Person of Jesus Christ?  Do we know who He is and what he stands for?  Can we trust Him?  Can we really say we believe in Jesus Christ if we only half-heartedly believe in His teachings?

The bottom line of all of this is that you can’t claim to believe in somebody you don’t know.  This should be a wakeup call to us all, because there is always room to grow in our relationship with Jesus.  If we’re not growing in relationship, our confidence—our belief—will start to fade.  So let’s boldly proclaim belief in Jesus, but let’s make sure that claim constantly reminds us of our need to grow in deeper relationship with Him.

 

The 30-Second Hug

In these last three weeks of class, my schedule has become somewhat busier than usual.  And typically when that happens, instinct tells me the first thing that ought to be crossed off the schedule is some prayer time.

I know, I know— prayer multiplies our efforts; it needs to always be priority number one.  No argument there.  But a few days ago, I found myself at my bi-monthly confession appointment (and, wouldn’t you know it, I was late).  After I sat down and guiltily explained to the priest my missed (or cut-short) moments of prayer, he gave me some advice that I thought was worth repeating.

It is so important to have time set aside for regular, daily prayer.  It’s something we all need even more than the very air we breathe.  But when schedules get a little tighter for a time, or unexpected events happen that thwart our daily plans, we shouldn’t necessarily allow a missed rosary here or there to rob us of our peace.

The priest likened it to the difference between a long conversation between friends and a hug that lasts for 30 seconds.  30 seconds doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you think of a hug that lasts for 30 seconds, it’s a pretty long and meaningful hug—and sometimes you need that more than an hour-long conversation.

The point is of course that we need both.  A relationship built only on hugs is…well, kind of creepy actually.  But one devoid of the kind of emotional connection you get from things like hugs is missing something as well.

So we don’t always need to beat ourselves up if work or school won’t necessarily allow for that hour of adoration today.  Prayer isn’t supposed to be a holy time card; it’s about building a relationship.  And like any good relationship, hugs are mandatory 🙂

4 Rules to Live By

When I first began to truly understand that prayer was a conversation between me and God, it was a pretty exciting thing.  However, the whole “listening” to God thing was difficult, and frankly, I didn’t know how.

My grandfather always taught me that God speaks to us in the same voice that we speak to ourselves.  This is good advice, but I remember it being difficult to discern my voice from God’s (who am I kidding?  Often it still is difficult for me).  My grandpa gave me a few guidelines to help in the discernment process:

1. Without fail, the first thing God will say to you is “I love you”.

The true Father that He is, God never begins a conversation with us without making sure we are as aware as we can be that He loves us.  Don’t rush over this part of prayer.  Let Him shower you with His love for as long as He wishes to.

2. God will never tell you to do anything contrary to His Law and His teachings.

Since a lot of prayers are prayers for direction, this rule is very important.

I recently saw “Eat Pray Love” with Julia Roberts.  There is a scene in the beginning of the movie in which Julia Roberts’ character hears God speak to her in the middle of the night.  She is on the floor crying and calling out to Him, asking for Him to tell her what to do.  She hears Him simply say, “go to bed.”  So she does.  However, she goes to bed and then proceeds to tell her husband she wants a divorce, assuming that this is what God wanted her to do.

We often confuse our warm and fuzzy feelings during prayer for the will of God, but that’s not always the case.  I really do believe that Julia Roberts’ character heard God tell her to go to bed.  After that, though, she was likely listening to her feelings.  This is why we have the teachings of God and the Law of God–so that our feelings don’t become our guide.  Usually, our feelings guide us to do what we want to do, and unless we are perfectly holy, that may not be the same thing as what God knows we should do.

3. God is persistent.

The good news: If you didn’t hear Him, or had your doubts that it was in fact Him, God will keep saying what He is trying to say to you until you hear it.

The bad news: If you didn’t hear Him, or had your doubts that it was in fact Him, God will keep saying what He is trying to say to you until you hear it.

Our own emotions and feelings will eventually pass away.  God’s will for our lives never changes.

4. God will never put you down

Read that again.  That little voice in your head telling you you’re not worth anything because of x, y, or z— some mistake in your past, your situation in life, etc.— that’s not God.  Remember rule #1: God starts with “I love you”.  It would be inconsistent for Him to end with, “you’re worthless”.

However, this does not mean that God won’t push us to be the best version of ourselves.  If God is not challenging you in your prayer, perhaps you need to take more time to listen.  None of us will ever be perfect in this life.  We will always have things we can work on.  God gives us the grace to conquer one sin in our life and then opens our eyes to see another.  This is a good thing!  He is perfecting us so that we can experience a deeper level of happiness.  The voice you hear that says, “You will never amount to anything because of ____,” is your own.  The voice you hear telling you, “I love you so much that I need to tell you that you need to change ____ part of your life,” is the voice of God.