This time of year is tailor made for reflection, especially concerning our impacting relationships. We recently talked about how God tells us to prioritize our divine connections with other people by commanding us to use the spiritual gifts He has given us to encourage each other (read about this by CLICKING HERE). However, one relationship trumps them all and is the foundation for any other worthwhile action or strategy. Christ is our ultimate source and we need to be very deliberate about walking out our union with Him. To begin this consideration, look at this promise for everyone who knows Him:
Matthew 28:20 NASB
“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
One of the best ways to properly appreciate what we have with Jesus is to consider how He is in fact always a part of our lives. This boils down to Him giving us the ability to communicate with Him in real time and on an ongoing basis. When you track the lives of Christians recorded after Christ’s death, you know that they communicated with Him in every conceivable time and circumstance. The record of Church History up to the present day continues to reaffirm The Lord’s desire and willingness to literally lead His people, at all times, if and when they are willing to follow. In order to deepen our understanding of this dynamic look at John 10:27-30 NASB:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”
The interaction between the shepherd and the sheep places a big emphasis on listening and following. It should come as no surprise in our fast paced, modern society that we often survey Christians and find that very few of them make listening a consistent part of their prayer lives. When this crucial detail is omitted, we almost certainly end up being led in the wrong direction from the start! The thoughts from our minds, our own personal desires, or even our feelings are often our default rather than what God is saying.
Once we do have a sense of God’s leading for us in prayer, it is another thing to actively follow it! Some combination of our mind, will and emotions also competes against what God has already said. It is a difficult battle to get to the place that we trust the leading of God more than our own thoughts and conclusions. We find that the key is almost always to take that difficult first step without having to know the exact result before you take it!
Perhaps, in addition to considering our own personal connection with God, it is worth considering some of the implications of a larger population drifting away from a living relationship with Him. We have had the opportunity to work and survey The UK over the last 18 years and it is very obvious that the christian veneer is very thin. Though up to two thirds of the region identifies as “Christian,” research indicates that for every one Christian that believes in The God of the Bible, there are two who don’t! Further evidence is found in the emerging generation where now it is estimated that up to 70% of the youth in The UK identify with no God at all (read here for yourself)! It is pretty clear that the living word has very little to do with the christian ethos that has given rise to these statistics. It would be impossible to arrive at these places if people were actually listening to and acting according to God’s Voice!
While the challenge is daunting, Trina and I believe that this crisis of faith in The UK can and will change with the few basic adjustments we have already been discussing. We are encouraged by John 6:63 NASB:
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
The Greek word for life in this scripture is zoe and it has a special meaning. It speaks of God’s divine nature and when this is released anything is possible. A simple return by the ordinary Christian to the shepherd’s dynamic found in John 10:27-30, will fill the region with the ultimate change agent: His Words spoken through the mouths of His People!
It is very ironic that one of the most effective pieces of counsel to individuals and nations as a whole boils down to being sure that we are operating according to the basic steps of The Shepherd and the sheep. There is a lesson in this for everyone in 2021 if we are willing to examine how our communication with Christ has been compromised. A dramatic change in circumstance can come when we take a bit of time to wait and hear what The Lord is saying to do and purpose to follow whatever He is saying.