Jim Gossweiler   -  

A sermon I heard recently had a profound impact and centered on the vital concept of walking with God and fostering a deep, intimate relationship with Him. In this message given by Pastor Drew Shofner*. In it he emphasized the significance of prayer and how God longs for us to engage in sincere, heartfelt communication with Him. Through prayer, we open the door to a dynamic connection with the Creator of the universe, a relationship that transcends religious rituals and formalities.

To underpin his message, Pastor Drew took from the rich tapestry of biblical teachings emphasizing that faith is not confined to the realm of religion or adherence to rules; rather, it’s a heart-to-heart communion with the Divine. It’s about nurturing a profound connection with God, one that enriches our lives with purpose, joy, and an unwavering sense of love.

The scriptures played a pivotal role in guiding his discourse. In John 10:10 we find where Jesus declares, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” This verse underscores God’s intention to bestow upon us a life that thrives, brimming with vitality and purpose. It’s a life imbued with divine abundance and here it is contended that this kind of life can only be found in our relationship with God.

Moreover, John 14:6 is referenced where Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This verse serves as a cornerstone of the message, emphasizing that Jesus is the very embodiment of life itself. Not merely a religious figure or a set of rules to follow, Jesus embodies the life we were created for, a life marked by authentic, depth, and genuine connection with God.

From here, the differences between religion and relationship is eloquently distinguished. It is asserted that religion is often intertwined with human culture and revolves around attempts to control God, circumstances, establish hierarchies, and create distinctions between insiders and outsiders. Religion can become a web of rules and appearances, devoid of the authentic, transformative power of a heart-to-heart connection with God.

Conversely, relationship with God transcends the boundaries of religious rituals and external observances. It is an authentic, vibrant communion with the Divine, characterized by a deep love for simply being in God’s presence. This was compared to the love we feel for close friends or family members, where our hearts are genuinely open, and the desire to be together is driven by love rather than obligation.

Mark 12:29 is also referenced, where Jesus underscores the most crucial commandment: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'” This scripture encapsulates the essence of a relationship with God—a love that emanates from the depths of our being and encompasses our entire existence.

The second commandment found in the same verse, is then elaborated on. This verse instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This underscores the interconnectedness of relationships, emphasizing that love for God should naturally translate into love for our fellow human beings. It’s a holistic approach to love and relationship that encompasses both our vertical connection with God and our horizontal connection with others. The core of this relationship is love. Love for God, love for self, and love for others. This love is not transactional; it’s not about earning or following a set of rigid rules. It’s about experiencing God’s love and allowing it to flow through us, transforming our hearts and the way we relate to the world around us.

The sermon exposits the biblical narrative of Abraham to illustrate the concept of a “call out.” Abraham, at the age of 75, received a divine call from God to leave behind everything he knew, loved, and cherished and embark on a journey into the unknown. This pivotal moment in Abraham’s life signifies a radical departure from the old life and an embrace of the new life God had in store for him.

Drawing from Genesis 12:1-4, God’s words to Abraham are highlighted: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” This command speaks to the essence of faith-a willingness to leave the familiar, step into the unknown, and trust in God’s guidance. It’s a call to abandon the old, comfortable ways for a life of adventure and purpose in God’s divine plan. This underscores the absence of a pre-approved plan in Abraham’s call. It was not about knowing every detail of the journey; it was about knowing and trusting the One who called him. This highlights a fundamental truth about faith-it’s not about having all the answers; it’s about having unwavering trust in the One who does.

Furthermore, it is emphasized that our security doesn’t reside in our understanding or our ability to comprehend every aspect of God’s plan. Instead, our security is rooted in a relationship of love and trust. Just as Abraham trusted God’s call, we are called to place our trust in God’s unfailing love, even when faced with uncertainty. He underscores the fact that there is no excuse for rejecting our “call out.” Abraham’s response to God’s call impacted not only his life but also the lives of those around him. In the same way, our decision to follow Christ and heed our divine calling can have a profound impact on those we encounter.

The sermon concludes with a powerful invitation for individuals to surrender their old lives and embrace the new life offered by Christ. We are called to a tangible commitment, symbolized by individuals coming forward to declare their surrender and their desire to walk with God.

Drawing from the wellspring of biblical wisdom, it is emphasized that faith is not a mere religious observance but a living, vibrant connection with the Creator. This connection is built on love-for God, for self, and for others. Through the story of Abraham, it is illustrated that the concept of a “call out,” where God invites us to leave the old behind and embrace the new, trusting Him even in uncertainty.

This message serves as a clarion call for individuals to prioritize their relationship with God above all else, surrendering their lives to His transformative love.