I used to think that having a relationship with Jesus and being intimate with Him were the same thing…
I read a part of Father Larry Richards’ book and listened to a Lighthouse Media CD that he had. He said how he would hold these retreats for young men and his opening line was, “Men, can you prove to me Jesus is God?”
Finally one person raised his hand and said. “Well father, it’s in the Bible that Jesus is God.”
Father Larry responded, “Well there is the Torah, the Islamic Bible and all sorts of books. Couldn't they be right too?”
The next raised his hand and said, “ Father, Jesus did all sorts of miracles.”
Father Larry responded, “Well magicians do stuff like that all the time, like making people disappear. That's the same thing.”
Finally one more raised his hand and said, “Father, Jesus rose from the dead.”
Father responded, “That’s close, but that still isn’t it.”
Finally everyone was stumped and Father Larry asked, “Do you wanna know how I know Jesus is God? … Because I know Him. Because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and know that he is real.”
. . .
In the 6th grade, I began to run around with a bad group of friends. I was a cradle-Catholic, just like some of you, going through the motions of mass on Sunday and some morning prayers. I actually knew a lot about Jesus, but I didn’t know him. As junior high continued on I began to fall into sin since I was around some not-so-good influences. They weren't the worst people in the world, but it was enough to dig me into sin. I started to especially struggle with impure thoughts and actions. I began to start talking bad and cursing. I started to drink alcohol too. As time went on, it all got worse and worse until my freshman year. I was up in my bedroom one night struggling with impurity again, and all of a sudden a thought came to my mind…
“If I were to die right now would I go to heaven?”
This scared crap out of me. I was terrified of Hell. From that moment on everything changed. I began to start following God. It was a long process of healing from my sin. Every night I would go down to my mom and tell her all this stuff that I used to do because I felt so guilty that I had to confess it to someone.
Originally followed God out of fear. I was scared of Hell, so I followed God. But God doesn’t want us to follow him out of fear, but out of love. So as I began to follow God I fell in love with Him. I fell in love with the fact that He loved me. That He died for me. That His Mercy was always there for me. I finally actually knew Jesus. I knew Him like I knew my mom or my sister. I didn’t just know about him. And I think that is the mistake we make - we may know so much about God, but do we really KNOW Him? This brought me to fall in love with Jesus and truly know Him. After this, though, I ran into another hurdle I had to jump.
I began to struggle with the fact that God loved me. I always felt like He was disappointed in me and that He was mad at me. Then the summer going into my senior year, I went to a Steubenville Conference. At the conference they had all sorts of speakers and activities and on the last night they have intense adoration similar to Life in the Spirit. There was probably about 3,000 people in this arena, and they marched around with the Blessed Sacrament. This was when I finally realized God’s love. Before adoration a speaker went up there and spoke to us about the true love of God; about how he wanted me for who I was, not for who I was going to be. Then adoration came and it was an amazing experience. With worship and adoration we praised Jesus presence in our midst. I think I smiled about the whole time.
Jesus wants me, and you just for who we are. All of our sins, all of our burdens, all our pain, all of our joy and goodness. Finally I could walk with Christ without condemnation. This is where intimacy comes in. I didn’t learn much about intimacy with Christ until recently…
Father Mike Schmitz explained it so well. There is a difference between having a relationship with Christ and having intimacy with Christ. When a couple gets married they say their vows to one another and they devote themselves to each other and then they renew their vows when they give themselves to each other completely in mind, spirit, and body through sex. That is true intimacy, when they give each other everything. Well God doesn’t just want to have a relationship with us. He wants to have intimacy with us. And how does he do this? Through the Eucharist. In the Eucharist He gives us His Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity. He pours out everything for us. The Eucharist is where we truly find Jesus and enter into a really deep relationship with Him because that is where we can have intimacy with Him.
A lot of people struggle with the fact that the Eucharist is the real deal, John 6 explains the Eucharist to us- Jesus multiplied the loaves and walked on water and then the next day everyone was listening to him speak. He says to them, “Amen, Amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”
Five times He said this. “Amen, Amen I say to you,” means He was giving a solemn oath meaning what He was saying was the Truth. After He said this, many of His followers left him because of their doubts. If He was saying it symbolically, He wouldn’t have let them leave.
It gets even better… He then looks to His disciples and asks them if they are going to leave Him too. When Jesus did this He gave His apostles the option to leave. If they would have left, the church never would’ve started. He risked it all for this one teaching.
Jesus wants so bad to be with us. When we mess up, we ask him for another chance, begging for his mercy. He simply wants an intimate relationship with us.