Happy New Year! Today we celebrate the turning of the calendar to a new year, full of potential and new beginnings. Our Advent season and Christmas holiday were filled with a hope of looking both backwards at the birth of Jesus and forwards to Jesus’ second coming (more on this in our December podcast), and this practice of reflecting and anticipating continues throughout many New Years celebrations. Think of all of the New Years resolutions we have promised ourselves over the years—the workout plans, the diets, the saving money, the being kinder, the pursuing our dreams. How many of those resolutions have you kept? If you’re like me, you start with good intentions, but sometimes life gets in the way. Or perhaps, as I’ve found out as I’ve gotten older, that the things I promised to myself weren’t, in fact, God’s plan for me. Maybe I should have started with a resolution that really mattered and would spill over into the entirety of my life: my relationship with Jesus. In this post, we’re going to be talking about starting over. Starting 2022 with a new perspective and diving into a full-blown, no-hold-barred relationship with Jesus Christ that will give you a new start.
What is a relationship with Jesus?
Setting goals for the new year is an important sign that we are being intentional about our lives: work, school, at home, interactions with friends, and even interactions with strangers. Our relationships with others are directly impacted by how we define ourselves in Christ. In this month’s podcast, our guests talk a bit more about their identity in Christ, but before we find identity, we first need to have that relationship. So, what is a relationship with Jesus?
How can you have a relationship with someone that’s not physically here? That’s a great question! A relationship with Jesus is intimate, secure, and provides a feeling of being completely known, inside and out. The best part is, there’s no hard and fast rules about what we need to do to experience His love and grace. A relationship with Jesus can look like praying every day; it can look like talking to others about your faith; it can look like studying the Bible or taking a class or reading a book about faith; it can look like a combination of those things or other things entirely. What we need to accept to have a relationship with Jesus, though, are some basics:
1. God has a great plan for you and loves you
2. We are all sinners, and our sin separates us from God
3. Jesus Christ is our link to God because God sent Jesus to take away our sins through the sacrifice of His life
4. We must each have our own, personal relationship with Jesus so we can experience God’s love and live His plan
Sounds pretty simple, right? You might be thinking to yourself that you’ve been to church, you’ve heard the stories, so you already have a relationship and don’t need anything else. But have you considered why a true relationship with Jesus is so important? And that relationships take work?
Why is a relationship with Jesus important?
In Scripture, there are two verses that come to mind when thinking about new beginnings:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 18-19, NIV)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Okay, so again, you might ask why is a relationship with Jesus important? Well, my answer is found in these verses. Let’s take a look at Isaiah and add in a bit of framework: in this passage, we see the Lord is rebuking His followers for not doing what God has asked of them. “You have not wearied yourselves for me,” God says (Isa. 43:22). Yet even as he scolds His followers, he still shows them how he is creating new things in the world. He urges His followers to not remember the past (after all, He forgives sins, rather than keeping a list of them (Isa. 43:25)) and to look at the bounty of newness He is creating. He asks, isn’t this amazing? Can’t you feel it? If you’ve ever made a resolution, for New Years or otherwise, you’ll know the feeling I am talking about. The anticipation and excitement over possibilities to come. God is simply asking us to see how He creates this newness for us just by believing in Him. If we truly had a relationship, what do you think we could do with that newness?
Which brings us to 2 Corinthians. This passage is talking about the ministry of reconciliation. What is that? Well, let’s break it down. In Isaiah, we see that God is upset that His followers were not obeying Him or praising Him as He asked. So, this meant that in order to save us from ourselves (or reconcile the differences between us and God), He sent Jesus to die for our sins so we could be reunited with God in our faith. This took away our sins, yes, but what it also did was give us the power to resolve our own differences with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ (and taking that a step further, to help others reconcile their own relationships). So, in this letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul says whoever has a relationship with Christ is new. He or she is starting over. No more old you; it’s time for the new you! This relationship is the way to truly begin again.
We’ve covered what a relationship with Jesus is and why a relationship with Jesus is important. We’ve even briefly listed ways that a relationship with Jesus can happen. Yet, we haven’t given any practical advice on how to have a relationship with Jesus. That’s because we can’t tell you how to have a relationship with Jesus any more than we can tell you how to have a relationship with your friends, significant other, or your family. What we can tell you and provide for you are some starting points that will help you open your heart and mind to the possibility of this relationship, things that will open your ears to hear what He is saying to you. Some practical tips:
Read the Bible.
I was once told that if I wanted to get to know God, I should read the book he wrote. Scripture is a way to get started in knowing the history of the world and Christianity. In the Bible, you’ll get to know all of the key players from Christian history and you’ll get to know Jesus and God! Everything is laid out for you. Whichever version of the Bible you read, you’ll find what you need to get started. Another thing, the Bible is not like other books; it has a way of changing us that is mysterious. Read more about the Bible in our blog post here
Talk to Others.
Have a conversation! If you know someone who is solid in their faith and has a relationship with Jesus already, ask them questions and tell them what’s on your mind. The best way to know about relationships with Christ are by talking with others.
Listen to a Sermon.
Pastors have an amazing gift that helps them tie the messages of Scripture to real life. They go to school for it, you know. Listening, really listening to a sermon might help you begin to understand what God meant in certain passages of the Bible and how its applicable to your life.
Join a Bible study.
This combines our first two points: reading the Bible and talking to others. No explanation needed here!
Come to Church.
If you want to know more about life as a follower of Christ, we invite you to come visit us! Come to church live online
with us on Sundays at 11:15 AM to see our congregation in action. Or come visit us in person on Saturday Nights at 6:00 PM, and Sunday mornings at 9:00 or 11:15 AM. If we’re not in your area, look up a local church and check them out!
Look Up Resources.
One good thing is, there are a ton of different resources out there for you to start growing and learning. Check out RightNow Media
. This free resource has thousands of different Bible studies, videos, and learning material that will help kickstart your new beginning.