Do you know Jesus personally?  I was in my twenties when I first heard this question.  I didn’t hear about the name of Jesus growing up.  I knew about a higher being but that was the extent of my faith.  At the most desperate point in my life, God chose to reveal his Son Jesus to me because I had prayed for a new beginning.  How merciful of God to honor my prayers by introducing me to Jesus, the one who came to make all things new.  Today, I know Jesus personally not because I prayed a simple prayer but because I invest time to pray and read God’s Word daily.  I used to follow the hollow rituals of religion, now I have a relationship with God through his son Jesus.

Before knowing Jesus personally, I didn’t know how to relate to people because I didn’t know that he is the author of relationships.  The closer I come to the heart of Jesus the more wisdom I gain to understand and relate to people.  Jesus was sent to earth in human form so we can have a personal relationship with God through Him and by doing so, we learn how to build and nurture healthy relationships.  The more intimate we are with Jesus, the more our earthly relationships are enhanced.  Jesus demonstrated this beautifully as he spent time with all kinds of people for the purpose of bringing them into a right relationship with God the Father.  Knowing God personally then should compel me to invest in relationships as well. 

However, pursuing relationships in a technological age has many challenges.  I find that people are more interested in casual, superficial relationships rather than personal, intimate relationships.  Social media and texting have replaced the need for personal contact with other human beings.  We live in a culture where deep and meaningful relationships are non-existent.  People don’t make time for one on one, face to face, heart to heart conversations.  Therefore, we no longer know how to communicate honestly and lovingly in spoken or written language.  Human contact is limited to short and quick exchanges with no depth or purpose.  When presented with opportunities to connect and engage with people in meaningful relationships, sadly most people decline the offer.  Not because their heart doesn’t truly long for it but because they haven’t learned how to accept the invitation.  It is messy, painful, and hard work to foster deep relationships so we choose the easier, more comfortable way to connect with no attachment and accountability. 

It isn’t that relationships can’t be enjoyed through the enhancements of technology.  The danger arises when we use these means as replacement for personal human contact.  My most intimate relationships were built on, developed, and are sustained through close connectedness.  And this is possible because I have a personal relationship with Jesus for he teaches me how to relate in an open, honest, and loving way.  God wants to relate to us in this personal way through his son Jesus (Ephesians 1:5) so that he can teach us the truth about himself and show us how to have healthy relationships.  If we choose to know Jesus casually, we will forfeit the rewards of a lasting relationship with him and others.

I am deeply grieved for the many broken, hurting, and lifeless relationships in our families, churches and world today.  There is a disconnect in our relationships because we are not deeply connected to God.  Until and unless we nurture a closeness with Jesus, our existing relationships will never prosper and there will be no desire from us to want to relate to others in a deep, personal way like Jesus.  Yet, we were created to be in relationship with God first and then with others.  This is where we will find our purpose and value.  Don’t trade this treasure for the shallow and empty life of casual, non-committal connections.   It isn’t enough to know of Jesus or about Jesus.  We must know Jesus personally to experience a passionately purpose-filled life now and eternally.  I pray during this Advent season and in the New Year you will seek to know Jesus personally because He is the infinitely perfect gift you and your relationships will ever receive!