Recognition vs. Relationship

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

 Galatians 5:22-23

As we continue our discussion about the fruit of the Spirit, I’d like to focus on “Goodness.”  When I think of goodness, I’m immediately reminded that left to our own devices we can never be good enough.  After all, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  However, I truly believe that we can claim goodness because of our relationship with Christ not just because of our recognition (or knowledge) of Him.

“(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"Acts 19:15

The Jews who were trying to drive out evil spirits uncovered something very interesting; recognition of Jesus doesn’t make a person good.  Demons recognize Jesus and yet they remain evil.  There are people going around today talking about Jesus as a “good man” or a “prophet.”  They recognize that He was an historical figure who walked the Earth and had a tremendous impact, but they don’t have a personal relationship with Him.  They admit that He was a great man and His teachings are worthy of debate, study and review but they don’t claim Him as Lord in their lives.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9

In order for us to be “good” we have to have the Spirit of Christ living on the inside.  We can try to be good but that never works.  Just ask Apostle Paul who said, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).  Blame it on our fallible human nature.  It causes us to have thoughts, utter words and commit deeds that are anything but good.  Even the saintly among us has to struggle every day to “live right.” 

What does a personal relationship with Christ look like?

In answering this question, I would like to first focus on the word “personal.”  In order to be a personal relationship is has to be one that YOU experience.  It’s great that your mother or grandmother prayed and had a direct line to Jesus, but what about you?  The other important word is “relationship.”  In order for you to be in a relationship, you actively develop, nurture and grow it.  Think about your other personal relationships.  If you neglect a friend, eventually you lose touch and drift apart.  It’s no different with Christ.    But it’s far more than any other relationship we have.  Let's take a look at our relationship to Jesus:

He is our Master and Lord

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both LORD and Christ.”  Acts 2:36

Our relationship with Christ starts with our confession of His place in our lives. “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).   When we acknowledge Him as the priority in our lives, we make Him Master and Lord.  When we put Him first in our lives, we are in right relationship with Him. 

He is Friend

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” John 15:13 

That’s exactly what He did for us.  Jesus tells us that we are His friend if we do what He commands us (John 15:11-17).  Our relationship with Christ is defined by our obedience.  Good friendship requires that we spend time together and love each other.   In this same passage of scripture, Christ says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).

He is Brother

 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13

God is our Father and Jesus is the first born among many brothers (Romans 8:29). Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16) and because of God’s great love towards us, we’ve been adopted into His family.  Jesus also told us that doing God’s will and putting it into practice allows us to be related to Him (Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-20).  Not only do we have the same father, we are also co-heirs with Christ if we share in His suffering (Romans 8:17).

He is our Redeemer

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) but we have been redeemed through Christ (Ephesians 1:7).  We were “very good” at time of creation (Genesis 1:31) and even though we were lost because of the fall of man (Genesis 3:1-24); we have been restored because of Jesus’ blood (Ephesians 1:7-10).

Do you recognize who Jesus is?  But more importantly do you have a realtionship with Him?