Question: I’ve been pondering a question that only leads to more questions: “What should I expect from a relationship with Jesus?” Some would tell me that the sky is the limit when it comes to God. Not only does He want to take control of my life and guide my every thought and action, but He will heal me of my sicknesses, make me prosperous, and protect me from all harm. And yet, when tragedy strikes, a loved one dies, or the paychecks just barely cover the bills, these same individuals are left searching for explanations. At the other end of the spectrum are those who would say that a relationship with Jesus is all about matters of the heart. I should set my mind on things above, think in spiritual terms, and not be so concerned with physical needs and wishes. But, based on what I’ve read in the Bible, this hardly seems like the complete picture of a relationship with the Lord either. When it comes to believing in Jesus and His offer of salvation, I know that I cannot prove His existence, and I accept Him by faith. But when it comes to understanding a relationship with Jesus and His interaction and/or intervention in my daily life, I find it more difficult to just accept everything by faith. For instance, I’ve met Christians that like to “name it and claim it,” who are quick to say that “God did this” and “God did that” in answer to prayer. Maybe He did. Maybe He didn’t. How are we to know? And what should we expect?
Response: First of all, we can prove that God exists, that the Bible is God’s Word and that Jesus Christ is the true and only Savior of sinners, that he died for our sins and rose the third day and is in heaven, soon to return. Faith is not a leap in the dark. I must have proof for the basic elements of faith, which are those I just listed. Otherwise a Muslim or Buddhist or Mormon, concerning his religion and holy books, could “take it by faith” as well and be lost.
Consider Acts:1:3, 9:22, 18:28, etc. where we have Christ proving himself alive, and Paul and Apollos proving that Jesus is the Christ.
There is also much that I can’t prove and must take by faith, such as the Lord’s daily guidance. Oh, He gives much evidence (I could tell you hundreds of encounters the Lord has given me that could not be the result of chance, but which I could not prove were of God). Fellowship with the Lord is a matter of the heart and mind, but should bear visible fruit in godly living (love, joy, peace, etc. - Gal:5:22).
“Name it and claim it” is the pathway to disaster. We don’t tell God what to do or what to give us; we submit ourselves to His holy will in everything. There is nothing so thrilling as to be in God’s will and see Him at work in and through us. There are trials as well as triumphs. Paul longed to know Christ better and prayed that the Ephesians would be inspired to know the “hope of his calling” (Eph:1:18).
Meditate on the Word of God, tell Christ frequently that you love him and want to love him more, get to know him better, and give living for him everything you have and are—and you will have plenty of evidence of his reality.