Basic Preparation for Transformation
Week 6, Email 2, Wednesday
Week 6, Email 2, Wednesday
Guide for a More Personal Relationship with God in Eternity: Part 2
[This paragraph repeated from Part One.] So, each of us must make a serious decision. Do we want to be able throughout eternity to have more heart-to-heart conversations with God about what He did in our sin-contaminated world? If so, we better get busy doing the Togethers more and more by yielding to the Holy Spirit and increasingly be molded into the image of Jesus Christ. We cannot do any of this in heaven - not without the environment of sin that makes the Togethers difficult. God worked in this sinful world. Therefore, if we want to have connections and conversations with God about what He did that required great mercy and grace because of sin, we have only a few years to gain them. Then, later after death, we can have marvelous conversations with our God about what He did, and be able to say, “I can somewhat relate, because Christ in and through me did something similar.”
Let me illustrate this disappearing opportunity using “correction tape”. Old enough at age 72, I remember many years of using little strips of paper with white powder on them to cover typing errors. When I typed the wrong letter onto the paper in my typewriter, I had to back the machine up and strike the wrong letter again with the strip between the “key” and the paper. Then I had to back up again and type in the correct letter. It was torture.
Those I tell this to fall to into 3 categories: (a) those who have never heard of correction tape; (b) those who have only heard about it; and (c) those who suffered with correction tape. While I like all three people, I only feel closer personally to those who have had the same experience and can empathize with my memory of “correction tape torture”.
The point of all this is that the opportunity to be able to “connect” or “relate” with me around correction tape is gone. We use computers now and it would be hard to get a hold of an old typewriter, much less correction tape. In the same way, when we die the opportunity to share with God in any way what He did in our sinful world is gone. The sinful environment will be gone just as correction tape is now gone.
Christians who do not want to miss opportunities to connect and bond with God in heaven will want to grow in obedience to the Togethers now before death takes those opportunities away. For example, let’s use the Together “Bear With One Another”. To become continually more and more like Jesus in bearing with others, each month or two find some Christian who is difficult to be around. Then let the Holy Spirit empower you to be comfortable around that type of person without judging them or putting unnecessary personal distance between you. Pray that you will run into a number of people with that characteristic until you find freedom in Christ and can be loving toward them - without restriction. Then find another insensitive or hurtful person and do it again.
This will allow you, when walking some road in heaven with God, to have a closer relationship around putting up with offensive people back in the prior sin-infested world.
To consider how a relationship with God might grow, think about building a relationship with a new friend. You begin by finding things out about that other person, where he or she lives, how he or she spends time, etc. That level of information is necessary for beginning a relationship and is gained in Bible study. But, we Christians should long for a much deeper relationship with God than that. To achieve this, we must go far beyond knowing about God and into relating to Him in a more personal way.
So, the next step in building a relationship with a new friend is to show you care by talking with the person, discovering and affirming the things that are important to him or her, and showing appreciation for that person’s qualities. We do this in our growing relationship with God by praise.
Next, it is important to spend time together doing things important to both you and your new friend. In developing our relationship with God, we can spend time doing many things together that is important to Him. The Togethers give us 65 types of activities to go deeper in our relationship with God.
Eventually, a friendship that will become truly close and intimate must pursue developing empathy with one another. Empathy is defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”.
We often use phrases like, “I’m with you” and “Been there, done that” and “I can relate to that” to establish a deeper connection with people. People grow closer in relationship whenever these comments are truthfully made because of empathy gained from similar experience.
For example, there is a great difference between understanding bull riding from watching or reading an autobiography of a cowboy than actually hanging on for dear life until tossed unmercifully to the ground by an angry bull. Only another bull rider can comment, “ Been there, done that” and “I can relate to that.” While everyone who just watches can admire the action, they can only honestly say, “I can’t relate to that.” They cannot enjoy a special bond with or have a deeper relationship with the bull rider.