Now this is eternal life: that they shall know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17.3
A friend tells the story of going for a walk with his six-year-old daughter some years ago, and as six-year-olds do so well, she began questioning him about all sorts of serious matters. He answered as best he could, and after a bit, she was quiet for a moment, obviously deep in thought. Then she looked up at him and asked, “Daddy, why did you marry Mommy?” He was stumped!
They walked on along in silence for a minute or two, and then he turned and answered, “because I like being with her.” As she mulled it over, his daughter seemed satisfied with the answer. For all the reasons he loves his wife, it boiled down to the simple fact that likes to be with her. On busy mornings, driving down the road, quiet moments together, it doesn’t really matter. He just likes being with her, in big things and small things.
In and around Christian life, there are about a million different things to get our attention: speaking nicely to a neighbor, going to the church picnic, helping with a mission project, reading the Bible, trying to behave well, teaching your children to be kind and not to lie. We are conscious of the role of our faith during the big moments of life, or we should be, but being a Christian impacts every area of our lives. Are we going to take office supplies from work? Do we let people cut in line? How are we to establish priorities and invest our time and money?
All of these things are important. I wouldn’t deny that Christianity speaks to every facet of life. But the main reason to be a Christian is to know God. We all want to go to heaven when we die, but here in John 17.3, Jesus tells us that eternal life is simply knowing God. This might be my favorite verse in the Bible. In this one verse, Jesus tells us the point and purpose of everything we do and of every breath we take. Our objective and destiny is to know God. That’s the whole point. Everything – the entirety of life – is contained in knowing God. Moreover, the fulfillment of all life and the conclusion of our faith are summed up by Jesus as ‘knowing God.’
It’s hard to be a disciple, hard to know what step to take sometimes, which direction to turn, how to respond to a situation. Choosing obedience is not always obvious. But if we choose to know God, if we make the choice just to be with God, we will not fail. I am not saying we will never make a mistake, but we will never be too far off the mark. Perhaps more importantly, if our choice is to be with God, then we are so much freer to live. If you make a huge mess of things at the same time you are with God, then neither you nor God is surprised. Plus, you never have to go back to scratch and try to figure out where you went wrong. God is right there to show you. If you don’t know which way to turn, it doesn’t really matter because, if you are with God, then whichever way you go, He’ll be there too. Like Isaiah wrote, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (30.21)
The other thing we Christians seem to miss is that it’s fun just to be with God. Nobody has anywhere near the creativity of God. When you are with God, anything can turn into an adventure. Plus, there is no safer place in all the earth to be than to be with God. In John’s first letter, he wrote, “Perfect love casts our fear.” (4.18) If you are with God, perfect love is your constant companion. All fear may not go away, but one look in the eyes of Christ can draw up wells of courage you never knew existed.
And the great challenge for every human being – pride and arrogance? Especially, religious pride when we think we are being good Christians? Being with God solves that. It is hard to be too puffed up when you are with God. Just how impressive do we really look standing next to the Author of life and Giver of every good and perfect gift? Yet, there is a freedom, a blessedness, a joy, a pleasure beyond words, that comes just from being with God.
As my friend continued his walk with his daughter, she looked up at him, smiled and said, “Daddy, I like to be with you.” When we know God well enough that we can look at Him with the same simple affection, we have begun to taste eternal life.
Go for a walk with your Father. Every day. Take His hand and smile; trust that He likes to be with you as well. Get to know Him well enough to say, “Abba, Daddy, I like to be with You.”
In Christ –
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