Encountering Jesus

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

On Sunday we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. A throng of people filled our sanctuary, many dressed in pristine Easter finery. Ushers scurried to find seats, busily lining folding chairs along the walls and aisles to accommodate the overflow. It was no ordinary Sunday.

How it must have delighted God’s heart to see the crowds uniting in praise of His Son. Voices rose together in worship, a beautiful melody lifting before the throne of the King. I felt my heart swell with love and gratitude in response to what my Savior chose to suffer for me. My hands rose heavenward involuntarily.

It was a good day.

Today, sadness pricks at the edges of my heart.

You see, I wonder how many of the faithful Easter attendees flooding our churches really know the Savior they came to worship. How many went out of duty for a distant God they hoped to appease by their annual presence on resurrection day? How many others rifle into church each week from that same sense of duty, with no thought of encountering the Living God?

Please hear my heart, dear one. I don’t say this in judgment. I say it because for 26 years I was one of them. I say it because I know the emptiness of being a church attendee who had no fellowship with Jesus. I say it because I want desperately for everyone to experience the transforming power of His unfailing love.

Beloved, do you know Him?

I remember the day I finally met Him.

I wasn’t looking for it when it happened. I was simply trying to finish my homework and get my blanks filled in before our home group met the next time for Bible study.

But my relentless, loving God had plans for this lost and wandering sheep. Four words stared back at me from the page in my workbook, seeking my response: Do you love Jesus?

The question was an easy one, and I lifted my hand to answer “yes” without even thinking. I knew the right answer.

But my hand began to tremble as a fresh revelation dawned. Conviction fell over me as the Spirit of Truth invaded my thoughts and allowed me to see what He saw.

I didn’t love Him.

I had thought I did. I’m sure I’d said it a hundred times in my twenty-six years. After all, I’d grown up in church. And I wasn’t just an Easter worshiper; I worshiped every week. I could quote Scripture and tell you all about Jesus’ life.

But knowing stuff about Jesus isn’t the same as knowing Him.

And that day, the Spirit lifted the veil so I could see the truth about myself. I realized I had been a pretender, living a lie. I couldn’t love Jesus because I didn’t even know Him. But I realized something else that day that was even more important: I wanted to. And so, undone by the Holy Spirit in my living room, I confessed my sin, exited the kingdom of darkness, and gave my life to Jesus.

I have never been the same.

Have you had your encounter with Jesus, dear one? Does your Christianity bear the marks of religious chains, or a transforming work of grace?

If you’re not certain, ask the Lord of Glory to reveal Himself to you. He will never withhold Himself from a seeking heart. In fact, He’s the One stirring you to seek Him. And when you do, He promises,

“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:14

He will lift the veil for you to see, piercing darkness with glory and disclosing your truth. And then, you have a choice to make. Will you step into the light and head toward Jesus? Or do you prefer the comfortable familiarity of the darkness?

Choose life, beloved. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and you will never see heaven without Him (John 14:6). To spend eternity with Him there, you must know and trust Him here.

He beckons you to life with the same invitation He gave the Twelve, “Follow Me.”

Will you follow?

 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

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