Last week I attended a conference in Levin, New Zealand. One of the speakers was Stuart Gramenz, who is one of the board members of 222 Foundation, and I had a chance to talk with Stuart at length. The thrust of his ministry is to emphasise that we all need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. In fact the whole Gospel should be presented in terms of relationship with God.
For example many know the wonderful scripture verse John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This truth is usually presented as something like, “If you decide to follow Jesus you will go to heaven when you die.” But what is eternal life? Jesus explained in John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Scholars tell us that the Greek word translated as “know” is not “know” in the sense of having information, but rather as in relationship, “knowing” a person, “knowing your wife” etc. So a way of paraphrasing John 3:16 could be “…..that whoever believes in him shall not be separated from God, but will be restored to a relationship with Him”.
What does a relationship with God imply? One key factor is surely communication, which must be two-way communication. If you were in a marriage where you were forever talking to your spouse, but your spouse never replied or spoke to you, wouldn’t it be a poor sort of marriage? Many Christians find themselves in this kind of relationship with God. They pray to God, but never learn to hear from Him, or recognise His ways of speaking to them.
The role of leaders in the church should be primarily to help believers new and old recognise the voice of God, lock into His agenda, and hear personally from him how to fulfil it. This is also called “being led by the Holy Spirit”. Growing in our relationship with God in this way is ultimate fulfilment for any human being. I have believed this for a long time. But talking to Stuart, who has been a great mentor to me over many years, refreshed my appreciation of the importance of this principle. I will make helping people to hear from God, and then training others to do the same, the central plank of our training and equipping in the coming year.
Do read Stuart’s thoughts on the topic in the free E-book available at this link: http://www.spiritledacademy.org/index.php?option=com_hikashop&ctrl=product&task=show&cid=6&name=are-we-preaching-another-gospel&Itemid=425