First John 1:3 reveals that a relational transformation occurs when we trust in Jesus as the saving word of life sent from the Father to redeem us. Such faith brings us into fellowship with other believers and also brings us into a new fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus. When we believe in Jesus, we enter into an intimate relationship with God whereby we can walk in communion with him in this life. We don’t have to wait for heaven. Most of the Christians with whom I counsel will often talk about God as if he is somewhere other than here. They talk about him as if he is sitting on his grand heavenly throne so distant from them. While understanding the transcendence of God is good from one perspective, we must also be sure not to abandon the reality of God’s imminence in and among his people.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to walk with God abiding in communion with him. While a lot can be said about methods for helping us maintain a close walk with God, I want to share four foundational practices over the years that I’ve found incredibly helpful.
- Text with God
Okay, that might sound strange but think about it. We are constantly texting people with whom we have a relationship. Literally, throughout our day, we are sending out the little abbreviated conversations with others. These are usually short sound bites of our day asking questions, sharing something funny, or just getting quick support when walking into a difficult meeting.
Why not do the same with God? This technique doesn’t replace longer quiet devotional times that are more intense, but all too often, we have time alone with God and then walk away from God versus realizing that he is here with us throughout our day. Also, notice that this point is “text with God,” not just “text to God.” We need to not only reach out to God throughout our day, but be open to receiving God’s “texts.” We need to be open to allowing his Spirit to gently whisper in our hearts in the course of our day and open to him interrupting the mundane with his precious presence whereby we simply acknowledge him. In all things, at all times, we should keep an open line of communication. Yet, be sure that the best and clearest way we can hear from God is by spending time in the Bible. This leads to our next point.
- Read with God.
We must not simply read the Bible for the sake of information; rather, we should read the Bible with God in mind. As we read, we can allow the text to provoke prayer to God. As we read, we can ask questions of the text. How does this text point me to Jesus? How does this text help me live for God? How does this text help me to adore God more? We should read the Bible as if God is speaking to us, and we should read for the purpose of obeying God.
- Watch Movies with God.
This idea impacted me years ago when I was reading a book called Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire, which my late friend and professor at the time Dr. Gary Greene assigned in my freshman English class. At the end of the chapter on watching movies, Gire writes this prayer,
Help me, O God,
Whenever I go to a movie, not to go just for entertainment but also for enlightenment.
Meet me there, I pray, and speak to me.
Tell me something I need to know that I may live my life more graciously, more compassionately.
Give me moments of transcendence so I can leave the theater in some way changed, even if it is a very small way.
Speak to me through a character, a scene, a line of dialogue, a musical score.Tell me something that will help me become a more understanding person, kinder and more compassionate.
Thank You for those moments at the movies that have touched my heart.
And for the fact that there is no place on earth that some echo of Your voice cannot be heard for the one who is listening.
What I loved about Gire’s chapter and prayer was that it helped me acknowledge that God is with me in the midst of all aspect of my life, that God wants to speak to me through all mediums of life, and that God wants to use all aspects of my life to transform me into a more accurate picture of his Son Jesus. All my recreation is to be done for the glory of God and I’m to enjoy God in the midst of my recreation (Col 3:17).
- Live with God
Walking in fellowship with God means living in obedience to God. First John 1:6–7 makes this point abundantly clear: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Later, John will continue and write: “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (2:6). To walk with God is to walk the path he has laid for us.
Can you imagine the impact we would have, the peace, the power, the perspective, the intimacy we would experience if we applied these four foundational truths and committed to walk with God in this way? Let’s make “walking with God” more than a 2017 resolution. Let’s make it a way of life.
Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 127.