At the close of Sunday morning's sermon, where we talked about the truth that Jesus Is the Good News, someone suggested the beautiful analogy that rather than Jesus being someone we simply read a biography about, he is more like a pen pal that we engage with. I think that is a wonderful picture, but as I've thought about it I'd like to suggest that because Jesus is the Good News - an actual person we relate to and find our hope in - there is another step in the picture we can explore.
For most of us, even many of us, our introduction to Jesus is like reading a biography (or it is actually through reading the biographies as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Their hope is that this introduction will lead to an actual relationship with the one who changed their lives and changed the world. That relationship may begin like a pen pal relationship - conversations back and forth with a growing depth of personal discovery and disclosure.
But what if you could meet that pen pal? What if you could know their presence and actually remain in their presence as you grow deeper and deeper and deeper in your connection? What if you could discover, in that pen pal, someone so compelling and wonderful and able and good that you never wanted them to go. And, at the same time, they never wanted to leave you! God's desire (and his invitation to you and me) is to find in Jesus and in his Spirit a deep relational intimacy - that the very real presence of God would be known and would "be with you forever."
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I pray that you will start by being introduced to Jesus. Spend some time reading the biographical introductions to him recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Ask friends of yours, who know Jesus, to introduce you to the one who has made all the difference in their lives. Discover, through the Bible and the stories of others, the good news. And prayerfully open yourself up to his Spirit as you do so. Begin talking to him. Begin listening to him through the Bible, through friends who share in a similar relationship with Jesus, and through his own quiet voice in your heart. And open yourself up to that pen pal kind of relationship developing into a deep and genuine friendship with an intimacy.