God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
The 10 Ways
Last post from the book of Acts we looked at how Peter and John astonished a group of leaders. The high priest at the time and his supporters recognized the reason Peter and John were such amazing communicators and such remarkable human beings was because “they had been with Jesus.” (If you’re interested you can check out our previous post here: The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Become More Like Jesus?)
So as a Jesus follower I want that too. I want to communicate the love of Christ in a compelling and intelligent way, the way Peter and John did. I want to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus the way Peter and John were. I want the people around me to see Jesus inside me the way those leaders saw Jesus in Peter and John.
For that to happen, I need to do what those leaders recognized Peter and John did. I need to be with Jesus. The more I can be with Jesus, the more I’ll become like Jesus. The more I’ll be transformed into his likeness, the way Peter and John were transformed.
Of course I can’t be with him physically, but I thank God He has provided ways for me to be in his presence. Below you’ll find 10 ways you and I can be with Jesus.
- To be with Jesus connect with people who resemble Jesus: As much as you possibly can, find the most Christlike people you can, and connect yourself to those people to the greatest degree you can. This is so important that I started to write this list in the last blog post but stopped after number one. Because it’s so important, I asked you dear readers to just focus on finding and connecting with people who resemble Jesus, and nothing else. As I said, if you didn’t do anything else but this, you would be on your way to becoming a changed man or woman. Changed more into the likeness of Jesus.
- To be with Jesus take Communion: Taking Communion is a way of communing with Jesus. When we partake of the Eucharist we connect with Jesus in a profoundly intimate way. Also praying to Jesus in the presence of the Eucharist can be an amazing way to connect with him. So to be with Jesus, take communion often.
- To be with Jesus read God’s Word: In John chapter one we see that Jesus is God’s Word. So when we engage with God’s Word we’re engaging with Jesus. In Drew Dyck’s excellent book about self discipline, Your Future Self Will Thank You, he offers this great tip on how to form the habit of starting your day with God’s Word: Leave your Bible on your nightstand next to your bed. When you wake up in the morning, reach over, pick up your Bible, and read it. It’s likely you’re already conditioned to consume content (from your phone) when you first wake up in the morning so if you’ll just pick up your Bible first thing, you’ll read it. Do this every single morning. Even if you only read a verse or two, do it every morning and you’ll find yourself in the habit of receiving from Jesus daily.
- To be with Jesus pray: Pray. Pray every day. Pray while you read your Bible in the morning and make it a two way conversation with Jesus. Pray after you read your Bible in the morning. Pray the way Jesus instructed us to pray: “Our Father . . .” Pray “The Way of Jesus Prayer” from 1 Corinthians 13. Pray as you go through your day. Check in with Jesus often in the manner of Brother Lawrence from The Practice of the Presence of God. Pray before meals, give thanks. Pray in lonely places the way Jesus did. Pray inside your church. Pray in your closet. Pray out loud. Pray standing. Pray with your hands raised to heaven. Pray on your face with your nose in the carpet. Pray with your wife and your kids and your friends. Pray before you go to bed. To be with Jesus, pray.
- To be with Jesus study Jesus: If you read my book Love Like Jesus, you know about how the very intentional study of Jesus in the Gospels changed my life forever. I looked at his every interaction with another human being and each of his teachings and his life. I highly recommend a deep dive into Jesus in the Gospels as a way to be in his presence, as a way to be with him.
- To be with Jesus study the lives of those who have most resembled Jesus: In our recent blog posts we’ve looked at the lives of the Apostles Peter and John. But we can also look at the lives of the two disciples of the Apostle John, Ignatius and Polycarp. (If you’re interested you can read an epistle Ignatius wrote here: The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans.) We can look at the life of someone like Teresa of Avila. (If you want to, you can learn more about Teresa of Avila here: The Way of Perfection.) We can look at the life of a Church Father such as Augustine. Studying these people can inspire us in our connection with Jesus. Studying people who resemble Jesus can help us to enter into his presence.
- To be with Jesus serve with Jesus: When we want to be with someone and love them and have a relationship with them we learn about what they love. And Jesus loves to serve. He has a heart for the poor. So help the poor. Find Christlike people who are helping the poor, and do something to help them help the poor. Ignatius, the leader of the ancient church of Antioch, wrote that one way to determine if someone was a false teacher was to find out whether or not he helped the poor. And you can connect with Jesus by helping orphans and widows too. James tells us that God loves it when we help orphans and widows. By serving in these ways we’re just doing things we know Jesus loves. That’s what someone does when they want a relationship with another person.
- To be with Jesus do everything with Jesus: If you want to be intimate with someone, there’s no substitute for history. I was on a streak for a few days of asking God to be by my side throughout every minute of the day. For significant periods, to my surprise and delight, He was! (Disclaimer: I’m early in the process of trying to establish this practice and it’s still very much a work in progress.) So here’s the way it works: In the morning I ask God to go through my day with me by my side. And before I begin to do anything, or as I begin to do something, or if I forget — halfway through doing something, I ask God if I can not do this alone. I ask Him if He will do it with me. If I’m alone in the car I clear the McDonald’s wrappers and phone charger cord off the passenger seat and ask Him to join me. Sometimes if I’m at the dining room table I’ll pull out a chair for Him to sit in. If I’m in a group I silently ask Him if He will join us. It’s a little streaky whether or not I feel His presence but I’ll take every minute I can get. Life is so much better with Him than without Him.
- To be with Jesus be vulnerable with Jesus: Think about your closest most intimate relationships. After time spent, and history experienced eventually you got around to being vulnerable with each other. You shared things that you wouldn’t share with anyone else. You shared things you didn’t want anyone else to know. Be that way with Jesus. Christ loves the humble person but humility doesn’t necessarily require another person (or another Person). Vulnerability requires another. So in a certain sense vulnerability is humility in relationship. Jesus wants you to give your whole self to him, including your vulnerable parts. (Hicks)
- To be with Jesus love the people around you: God puts certain people around you and around me, and sometimes those people sin differently than we do. And when people sin differently than we do, we find them to be obnoxious. I’m pretty sure that was intentional. Part of what God wants us to learn during our time here on planet earth is to love people who we find obnoxious. Like most things in life we learn about relationships through experience. If we’re intentional about it we can learn how to love people better through practice. And when we practice loving the people around us well, even when they’re obnoxious, we learn how to love Jesus better too. Not only that, but there’s a direct connection to Jesus here as well. At the judgement they asked, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And Jesus will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
I don’t know if you might have also experienced this recently, but I’ve become tired of me. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been a greater self awareness — and I’ve become aware that I need to become a more virtuous human being. I’ve become aware that I need to become less like me and more like Jesus. So to be transformed into a more Christlike human being, I, you, we need to be with him. We need to make our relationship with Jesus everything we can make it. We need to spend time in his presence.
Like Peter and John, we need to be with Jesus.
Unlike Peter and John, we don’t have his physical presence, but we still have these ten ways.
“Father, please be merciful to us because we’re sinners. We so desire to be transformed into the likeness of Your Son. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and inspire us to be with Jesus in every way possible. Bless us with Jesus’ presence. Make each one of us into a person who’s filled with the love of Christ.
“In Jesus’ name.
Drew Dyck, Your Future Self Will Thank You, Moody Publishers, 2019
Father Boniface Hicks, On Prayer and Intimacy with Jesus, Pints With Aquinas interview with Matt Fradd, 5/27/2021
Kurt Bennett’s book is now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.