DIVE DEEPER AND REACH FURTHER
It's all about relationship!
by Gareth and Nicole Agnew
W@W EASTER INSPIRATION
Dive Deeper and Reach Further…
Don’t you love how Easter is a time of year where we find ourselves reflecting on what the cross means to us – where we take the time to think about all that Jesus defeated on that cross for you and I?
I, Nicole, am 34 years old this year, which means that I have heard 34 different Easter messages in my lifetime. Surprisingly enough, with each year that passes God manages to show me something new and fresh about Easter – and this year is no different!
This year my husband, Gareth, and I were asked to write a special Easter inspirational message to our W@W family. We feel privileged to share what God has been whispering into our hearts over the past few weeks; and our prayer is that you will feel blessed and refreshed by this Easter message.
Gareth: I am not a huge fan of reading, so it was by complete chance that I picked up a particular book in a Christian bookstore, all because I found the title intriguing… “Not a Fan” which is written by Kyle Idleman. Little did I know how much this book will impact me! It had me questioning myself as a believer: I began thinking about my relationship with God, what I believed in and why…
The book started by discussing an Easter sermon which Kyle needed to prepare for – and this led to me asking the question: “Honestly, what is my relationship with Jesus like?” Kyle uses team sports to explain his message. In a nutshell, he describes what we see on the field versus what actually goes on in the background (which we as fans or spectators don’t see) – the hours of practice, the people behind the player, the sacrifices… and the faith required. However, he also describes how there are many fans who show up to watch their beloved sport and to support their favourite player – but who never actually play the game themselves…
As Gareth and I began discussing what message we could share, many Easter themes came up – by His stripes… by His blood… we are free… our sins are forgiven… All typical Easter themes that you would expect to hear on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. However, as we began praying and talking through our options for this blog, two things came up. Firstly, Gareth began to share on the recent book he has read: “Not a Fan”; and secondly, a word which kept coming up in my heart: Relationship!
As we began knitting together “Not a Fan” with the word “relationship”, we were both challenged by these questions:
How seriously are we taking our relationship with God?
Are we spending our Christian lives standing on the side-lines watching, or on the field playing?
What God has shown me this year, is that Jesus didn’t just die for us to receive life. He died to open a way for us to have an intimate and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father – by removing the barrier of our sin and leaving us with the Holy Spirit who is God within us.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)
How seriously are we taking that?
Let me say it again… Jesus hung on that rugged cross, a broken and beaten man; so that we could have a relationship with God – the creator of heaven and earth! That is no small thing, and I have been challenged in my own journey with God. How often am I His hands and feet? How much time am I giving into what I believe? Who am I receiving wise counsel from? How often do I stand on the side-lines rather than actually playing?
You see, “standing on the side-lines” could look like this: Frequently at Christian bookshops and making sure you are seen there; Ensuring that you have the latest copy of your favourite Christian publication on your coffee table; Displaying the cliché Christian bumper sticker on your car or the cross hanging from the rear-view mirror… All this to show the world that you are a Christian. But are we taking what we learn from the Bible, or what we hear on a Sunday in His house out into the world? Are we truly, with our whole hearts, bringing glory to God through our daily living?
‘Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvellous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes’. Romans 12:1-2 (TPT)
Being actively involved in a relationship with our Father means that wegrow in relationship with Him, carefully listening for His still small voice when we need guidance and direction. It means that in faith we trust Him even when we cannot see the end result. Being in a relationship with God means knowing without a doubt that He will not give us more than we can carry; and that He will never leave us nor forsake us! It means trusting the author of our lives, the One who set us apart before we were born.
Being in an intimate relationship with the Father requires that we actively seek His face and involve Him in everything we do, all the time. Over time and with practice, seeking Him will become as natural as breathing.
The more we grow in our relationship with God, the more the people around us (those we know and those we don’t!) get to experience our Heavenly Father through our lives, actions and words. This is what it looks like to share the gospel and be the hands and feet of Jesus: This is what it looks like to be blessed and to be a blessing!
This kind of relationship with God would be known as “putting some skin in the game…”
“And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to Himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God”. 2 Corinthians 5:18 (TPT)
So, to conclude, the ideas of not just “being a fan” but being active on the field; and the notion of an intimate relationship with God resonate powerfully! Let’s make this an Easter of intimacy and activation – let’s seize this opportunity to dive deeper into relationships and then to reach further to make a difference in our world!
From the team at W@W Online Ministries, we wish you and your family a blessed Easter weekend.