- Sunday morning – Invited into relationship
- Sunday night – God is up to something good
- Monday night – Spiritual friendship – loving our brothers and sisters in Christ
- Tuesday night – Sharing God’s life
- Wednesday night – Speak Lord for your servant is listening – hearing God
- Thursday night – Where is the Spirit leading?
This morning I want to look at a couple snapshots of how we are invited into relationship with Jesus.
We start in the garden of Eden. God created Adam and Eve in his image (Gen 1:26-27). As beings created in God’s image, Adam and Eve were created for relationship with God. We know from Genesis that Adam and Eve walked together personally with God in the garden. However, with the fall into sin in the garden, the relationship was damaged. Ever since then people have been looking for love in all the wrong places. We were not capable of finding our way back into right relationship on our own, but God had a plan to restore the relationship between himself and people. This plan consisted of Jesus coming to earth in human flesh. We just finished the Christmas season and were reminded that the name for Jesus, Immanuel, means God with Us. What does it mean to be invited into relationship with Jesus?
Last fall we went through the 7 I Am statements of Jesus found in the gospel of John. Let’s return to the gospel of John 10:14-15.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
The picture of Jesus as the good shepherd is all about relationship. We are all looking for relationship because we have been created for relationship. The church father Augustine said: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” All our restlessness and cravings can only be satisfied through a relationship with Jesus. We are invited into relationship. The good shepherd is calling. Do you hear his voice?
Continuing to look at the gospel of John let’s look at John 15:1-5 and 9-11.
Jesus says: ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)
And jumping down to verse 9: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11)
This is one of the 7 I AM statements of Jesus and in it Jesus teaches that he is the true vine and his followers are branches in the vine. In verse 10 we learn that as branches in the vine, we are invited into the fellowship of God the Father and Jesus the son. We are invited to be part of the vine, interconnected with Jesus into the Trinity. It is an amazing privilege to be part of Jesus, the true vine, in fellowship with God the Father. We are invited into relationship, to have the lifeblood of the vine flowing through us.
Finally, let’s spend a few minutes looking at Ephesians 3:14-19.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:14-19)
In the first three passages we see that we are invited into relationship with God the father through Jesus. Here we see explained that it is the Holy Spirit indwelling followers of Jesus that allows believers to experience relationship in the Trinity as they respond to the invitation of relationship. “It is the constant assumption, or specific emphasis, of the teaching of the New Testament, that strength for the Christian life comes by the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” The purpose of this relationship is that we know the love of Christ, which leads to the fullness of God. “As Orthodoxy says, though we are created in the image of God, we have still to attain the likeness of God. We are always on the move and never wholly satisfied. The finite world cannot satisfy us completely, because we are spirit and directed towards a goal that lies beyond the world.’ As God’s kindred spirits, we find our hearts restless until they rest in him. Our goal is to participate in the filial relationship between Father and Son.”
Going right back to Genesis and bringing it full circle we see that we are created by God for relationship with him and we cannot find satisfaction apart from him. We are invited into relationship. As we enter this week of prayer, our theme is ‘seeking the heart of God.’ Let’s begin the year with minds and hearts open to what Jesus is inviting us to.
 Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1.
 Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 315). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 109). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit, pg 75