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Elements of Spiritual Growth: Making the Relationship The Focus

by Greg Baker  
6/05/2011 / Christian Living

Taking your spirituality to the next level requires certain ingredients. Without these, we can't achieve the level of spirituality that makes Christianity meaningful and profitable to both the Christian and the Kingdom of God. This element of spiritual growth depends on making the relationship you have with Jesus the focus.

Making the relationship with Jesus your focus is not as easy as some make it to be. I recall vividly a young man who became almost arrogant in his proclamation that he would love God with all his heart and never stray from it. Unfortunately, as long as we are encased in flesh, we have an inherent weakness that fights with our desire for spiritual perfection.

A young man came to Jesus in Matthew 19 and asked an interesting question, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" His question was based on a faulty premise. He wanted to know what good thing he had to do to get to Heaven. It is a very arrogant approach and makes Jesus' role in our salvation obsolete.

At first, Jesus tried to shake him from his supposition by saying, "There is none good." If this is true, which it is, the young man needs much more than a good thing to do. He will need Jesus. Jesus is the only way to Heaven, not a good thing we do. According to John 6:28-29 the only work that has any impact on our salvation at all is the work of belief and trust in Jesus Christ.

So Jesus proceeded to tell the young man that in order to earn eternal life on our own, we would need to be perfect. The young man, laboring under self-delusion, replied, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" He is wrong, of course; he hadn't kept all these things. But you can't convince someone of sin when they are adamant they have committed no sin.

But, for the sake of argument, suppose the young man had done these things perfectly. Suppose he was such a good man that he had never committed a sin even in the recesses of his mind. His question of, "What lack I yet?" now becomes very intriguing. Jesus' response was for him to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. The man turned away sorrowful, for he was very rich.

The problem wasn't his riches; the problem was his focus. His riches had become his focus. That is the main problem for many of us in trying to advance to the next level of our Christian life. Our focus is not on the most important thing: our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pastors, ministers, missionaries, business men, often lose sight of the main focus of our individual lives. The focus should be the relationship with God and Jesus more so than our possessions or the good things we do in the name of Jesus Christ.

Peter, a bit late in the chapter, remarks that he too had left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus reminded him that he did not do so because of the wealth or benefits that would result of his following Christ, but he had done so for the name of Jesus. It was for Jesus he had forsaken everything. It was because he wanted to follow Jesus. It didn't matter where Jesus went, what happened, or what the cost was. The relationship was more important.

Micah 6:8 tells us of the three things that are good and what God requires of us: First, to do justly, secondly to love mercy, and thirdly to walk humbly with our God. It is the relationship that should take precedent in our lives. It is our walk with God that should consume our desires.

Doing a great work, a good thing, is wonderful. But these good things can take our focus away from the relationship. Many good Christians find themselves meshed in a ministry and the ministry replaces their walk with God. This is a recipe for disaster. The Pastor must walk with God. The church leaders must walk with God. The Christian must walk with God.

Once the relationship becomes the focus, it becomes of no consequence to sacrifice for the relationship. We do good things, not because we are seeking a reward for them, but because these good things enhance our relationship. Those we love the most, we find little regrets in our sacrifices for them. We love them, so we give. It is about the relationship. It is about the person, the individual, not the 'good thing' we do.

Where is your focus? What is it that is most precious to you in your Christianity? It should be your relationship and walk with God and Jesus Christ. Once this becomes you focus, your spiritual growth reaches new and unexpected heights.

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