From 1996 through 2000 I spent most of my time deep in the throes of academic study in seminary. We studied biblical languages, theology, Old Testament and New Testament studies and the practicalities of running a church and conducting ministry. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life and one for which I am deeply grateful.
However, I have since learned a very profound and important lesson: you can have all the Christian education in the world and still lack the power of God in your life and ministry.
In seminary we were constantly told to not neglect the “spiritual life” as we pursued our academic study. Routinely we joked about the danger of seminary becoming “cemetery” and killing our relationship with God. I took classes on spiritual disciplines and attended chapel. I served on the staff of a local church. I even had a quiet time.
But something very significant was missing. In my desire to serve the Lord and fulfill His calling upon my life I missed something. In the midst of my rigorous study I missed something. Even while having my “quiet times” I missed something. Unknowingly I had confused spiritual activity for time with Jesus.
Yes, time with Jesus.
It is a very easy mistake to make. But we often substitute the activity of the Christian life (whatever that means) for time with Jesus. Even my quiet times just became a “thing to do” rather than a time to simply spend with Jesus. If there is no time with Jesus there will be no boldness and power for Jesus.
In Acts 4:13 we read, “Now when the Jewish leaders saw the boldness of Peter and John and found out that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and realized that they had been with Jesus.”
Did you catch that?
Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples who had a great impact on the early Christian movement, were uneducated and ordinary men. They were average. They had never been to Bible college or seminary. These were working class men from working class homes. These were the kind of guys who had dirt under their fingernails and constantly carried with them the smell of their work. They did not have a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies and were not a part of the priest class. These were beer and pizza kind of guys.
And yet, in the face of arrest and persecution they were bold about their commitment to Jesus! Why? They had been with Jesus.
Listen carefully. They…had…been…with…Jesus.
This was the secret to their power and boldness. Ordinary men and women who spend time with Jesus can change the world.
Do you spend time with Jesus? When you come to church on Sundays, gathering with your brothers and sisters in Christ, do you come to spend time with Jesus? When you leave do people recognize you as someone who has spent time with Jesus?
Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you walk with him and talk with him? Do you listen to his voice in the pages of his Word? Do you speak with him in prayer? Do you look for him in the midst of gatherings with brothers and sisters throughout the week?
Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you “practice his presence” at work and at home? Do you acknowledge his presence even as you do the mundane and routine tasks of life? Do you greet him as you rise in the morning and before you lie down at night?
Do you spend time with Jesus?
Sometimes I am so busy doing things for Jesus that I forget to be with Jesus. Can you relate?
It’s like throwing a birthday party for one of your kids. You can be so focused on setting up, getting food, serving cake and punch and making sure that everything runs smoothly that you never get to spend time with your kid! If we’re not careful, we can do this with Jesus.
The fact that Jesus Christ died, rose and lives forevermore is perhaps the single greatest reality of life. He is alive. He can be known. You can spend time with him.
– Scott Eaton, Senior Pastor