[This article is part of the Can I Call Myself A Christian? series]
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.
– John 8:31
We spend quality time with the people we love and care about. And whenever we spend time with them, we intentionally converse with them – hearing them out and speaking to them. Simply, if a relationship matters to us, we will commit to find and spend time with the other person no matter the circumstance. But if a relationship does not matter to us, we will have all the excuse to not spend time with the other person.
See, no relationship will last long without a commitment built on trust and truth, trust and truth built in conversations, conversations built through time, and time built through intentionality. This goes the same with our personal relationship with the Lord. When we talk to God through prayer and God speaks to us through His word, a deeper trust and stronger commitment in the relationship and more so towards God are built. But that conversation may only be established if we spend intentional and consistent quality time with Him by faith.
Jesus Himself took time to connect with the Father regularly.
- “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
- “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray’” (Matthew 26:36).
- “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
Jesus’ personal time with His Father in Heaven was His utmost priority (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Luke 22:39-44) no matter what His circumstances were (John 5:30). Christians therefore should be and do the same. After all, living like Jesus publicly starts with living like Jesus privately.
Sadly, unlike Jesus, many professing Christians underestimate and ignore the importance of consistently reading and reflecting on God’s word. They imply:
- “Lord, I love You and I accept You. I also like talking to You but I do not really enjoy listening to You.”
- “Lord, I love You and I accept You but I do not want to get to know You more.”
- “Lord, I love You and I depend on You. I also like asking You for many things but I do not want You to tell me what I should do, where I am right now and where I should be heading.”
- “Lord, I want to be with You but only when I need to or feel like it.”
- “Lord, I believe you but I do not want to depend on You today.”
- “Lord, I trust Your truth but I already know what to do today.”
Such statements do not make sense. Spending time with God through His word is a natural response, not a pre-requisite, of being a Christian. Once a Christian gets a taste of Jesus, who He is and what He has done, that person will crave for His presence more and more (1 Peter 2:2-3). If a professing believer of Jesus does not have the hunger to spend a personal time conversing with the One whom he believes to be his Lord and Savior, we would have every reason to doubt the sincerity of his faith.
In John 8:31, God says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” In essence, a person who does not abide in God’s word is not a Christian to begin with.
More than God’s word being infallible (Proverbs 30:5-6; Isaiah 55:11), complete (Revelations 22:18-29), authoritative (Psalms 119:89), sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:28,165) and wise (Psalm 119:105,130), it is God Himself (John 1:1,14; John 14:6). So as much as the Bible is for us, it is not about us. Its books commonly and explicitly point to Jesus. Therefore, Christians are called to spend time with God not only because of what they can get out of Him but more importantly, what they will know about Him.
Satan will do all that he can to pull a person away from reading God’s word. This is because the more we personally read the Bible, the closer we get to God. The closer we get to God, the more our eyes will be opened to the truth (John 17:17) — the kind of truth that will set us free (John 8:32, Ephesians 6:17).
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Satan wants people to be blinded of the truth to keep us away from Jesus. So satan will use all kinds of distraction, doubt and deceit (John 10:10) so that any thought and truth of Christ will be quickly snatched away from us (Matthew 13:19).
In Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus came to a village, Martha opened her home to Him. Martha had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what He was saying. But Martha was busy doing all the preparations needed for Jesus. Martha was so distracted that she came to Jesus saying, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Many Christians today are like Martha. They know what to do to please God (e.g., make an effort to show up for fellowship, serve others, rush to share the gospel to people, sing songs of praise and worship, etc.). But they neglect what truly matters above all the doing – that is, being with Jesus Himself.
Again, Jesus tells us, “but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Just one: Him.
This is how personal God is to us. He does not want us to just go gung-ho for the Kingdom; He wants us to first humble ourselves before the King.
The more we spend time with God alone, the more we realize what we should and should not do in order to honor and glorify Him. After all, doing comes out of being and not the other way around.
Listening to our church pastors, talking about God’s word in Bible study groups, using daily devotionals as reflection guides and reading books about God’s word are good things, but these are not enough to get real and personal with the Lord. God wants us to privately come to Him (Matthew 11:28). He wants our relationship with Him to be sincere, intimate and personal.
Are you a professing believer of Jesus who is struggling to read through and reflect on God’s word faithfully every day? Have you neglected or belittled the importance of God’s word in your daily life? Have you gone through a day or two without meditating or memorizing God’s word? Do you desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus? Do you desire to know God more, deeply and truly as revealed in His Word? Do you desire to grow up in your salvation?
If you have answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, I would like to encourage you with this: God desires to spend time with you. God longs for your time and attention – not for His sake but for your sake.
Go read your Bible.