I got acquainted with Jesus just out of high school. I’d grown up attending church and loved going to church but it’s hard to say I really knew Jesus till much later. I’ll never forget it, actually. I was reading the Bible late one night and happened across a passage in the book of James. The text said faith without works was no faith at all. Very suddenly, that passage made complete sense to me. I knew very clearly, and quite mysteriously the way to know Jesus was to take action, was to follow Him and do things. I’d spent my entire childhood learning about Jesus, learning about right theology and even more about wrong theology but I’d never once taken action in following Him.
So, I did. I went outside and started walking down the street. I needed to physically take action, I’m not sure why. It didn’t make any sense, I just needed to move. I felt like God didn’t really care what kind of action I took, I just needed to take action. I don’t think I went to bed that night till 5am. I just walked the streets, trying to follow Jesus.
And for the next two years, my life was a complete whirlwind. I poured through the Bible and the book was truly alive. Though I’d read it a million times, I’d only read it as a religious person, not as somebody who actually knew Christ. And as I read it anew, the text spoke to me in ways it never had before. The words were like food, like water. I parsed over them and underlined whole sections. I wrote passages on index cards and carried them around in my pocket.
I also kept taking action. I’d write a letter every day to encourage somebody, printing passages of Scripture at the bottom of each note. I started attending camps, began reading book after book, started teaching the Bible at a local church and so on and so on.
And more than this, I started talking to God all the time. I didn’t use crazy King-James language or manipulative emotion, I just talked to Him and I loved talking to Him. I believed He was listening. It felt like He was listening.
After about two years, the luster wore off. Today, I study the Bible and it certainly seems alive but it’s not like it used to be. I find the Bible fascinating and am still drawn mysteriously to Jesus but it’s more like being with somebody I’ve spent years with than with somebody I just met.
I read once that when a person falls in love the brain creates a chemical that bonds the person to their love interest. Sadly, after two years, that chemical subsides and another chemical is created that continues the bond (if nurtured and protected) but the bond is less passionate, less energetic and more thoughtful and familial.
I suppose that’s how I feel about Jesus now. I feel like He’s family. Or, more appropriately, I feel like I’m in His family. It’s almost like we once had a passionate thing and now we’re just kind of growing old together.
Often, when people try to get me worked up about Jesus, zealous and emotional, I don’t necessarily feel like it fits me. I’d have to fake it if I acted that way. To me, faith is about maintaining and protecting a solid relationship in which there is now about fifteen years of history, too many memories to name, lots of great, slow work to do and plenty of other people to introduce Jesus to so they can start their relationship as well.
What’s very cool and comforting to me, though, is I experienced the same brain chemistry that happens in an intimate relationship, only I experienced it with God.
The whole thing helps me believe He’s really there. Now that’s something to act on.