Did you know that God wants to be friends with you? It’s why He made you! It’s why He made the entire human race: for relationship. Humans tend to turn Christianity into just another religion, but that’s because we’ve missed the point…
To go back to the beginning (you can read more about this in the Bible), God created the world and put man in it. The Bible doesn’t spell out exactly why, but we get a hint in Genesis where we read that God made a habit of coming to chat with Adam and Eve. God is love; He loves to express love, so he created people in His image (ie able to give and receive love) for a mutually-loving relationship.
It got complicated by God giving them free will – that is, the option to choose to love Him back. Without free will, their love would have been meaningless, like robots programmed to love without the freedom of autonomy (self-direction). So God wanted to give them the option to choose. He gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted in the whole of creation… except one tiny thing. He said not to eat the fruit of one single tree, and explained that if they did, they would have their eyes opened to good and evil… and that the knowledge of evil results in death.
Many people have wondered why God put that tree there – why allow them to be tempted? But that takes us back to the robot analogy: without giving Adam and Eve a choice, with an alternative to expressing their love and trust of God, their love would have been pre-programmed and not freely given… basically, meaningless.
So God gave them the choice, and tragically they chose to reject Him; chose to go the way that seemed more appealing to them.
Of course, death was the result, as He had tried to warn them. There were two expressions of death that happened that day. Firstly, their spiritual death, which was instant. The second they ate of the forbidden fruit and their eyes were opened to evil/ sin (which means anything that is not part of God), they died spiritually. Their spiritual DNA was corrupted, and they lost the purity that allowed them to live in God’s perfect presence (imperfection just can’t exist in the presence of perfect God). So they died spiritually, doomed to be separate from God Who is the source of all life. Physically it took them a lot longer to die, but the process of death entered the world at that point.
So they – and all the humans that came after them – were left physically dying and spiritually dead. Born in sin, they were all able to temporarily live on the physical earth and reproduce as God had originally blessed them to do, but were dead in spirit, unable to enjoy friendship with God any more. So God made a plan. He still loved His people and wanted to bring them back to life spiritually, to resume their relationship. As a perfect being, He had to stick to the laws of justice – He couldn’t just make it so their sin didn’t matter – that would allow evil to have free reign. The consequence of sin was still, and had to remain, death (separation from God). So He established a system that would teach mankind the concept of sacrifice. He chose Israel to be His family, an example to the world, and taught the Israelites that the death penalty for their sins could be paid by innocent animals. He kept calling the Israelites to come back to Him, to turn their backs on living their own selfish lives, and to obey His commands – the commands put on place for their own benefit, just like the first one. But mankind kept sinning (sin was now part of their DNA after all), and they had to keep on sacrificing innocent animals, and still kept on sinning.
So God revealed His master plan: now it was time to prove once and for all His love for his children – He loved the world so much that he sent His Son to live among us as a human, and to pay the ultimate price of death on our behalf – for all of our sins. Jesus Christ was that Son. As the nativity story tells us, He was miraculously born to a virgin, which is important because it meant that He was not contaminated by the sin DNA of an earthly father. Jesus was the only sinless human to ever live, so He was the only human who could die a death that He did not deserve. He willingly went through the most horrific death, taking all of our sins upon Himself, and endured separation from God, in Hell (the place of total absence of God – the inevitable destination for all who reject God). He did this so that none of us need to go to Hell, but can be restored to friendship with God.
And now, just like after the Israelites sacrificed an innocent animal, and God called them to turn back to a loving relationship with Him, now He is calling us to the same. This time we don’t need to keep sacrificing animals – Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice who has paid the price for our sins once and for all. All we need to do is turn our hearts back to God – to ‘repent of’ (which just means to turn away from) our sins, and commit to live our lives loving God instead of going our own selfish way.
When we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, and make Him the Lord of our lives whose love we trust, we become “born again” – ie born into new spiritual life. We are made spiritually alive through Jesus, and are restored back to friendship with God. Physical death is still present in this world, but we need not fear it, because now that we are spiritually alive, forgiven and made perfect in Jesus, our spiritual home is where God is. Hell is the place of darkness where those who are spiritually dead and have rejected with God must go – but He does not want any of us to go there because He doesn’t live there, so there is nothing good there – only pain, evil and suffering. It’s the home of Satan (a.k.a. the devil), God’s enemy, the root of all evil. No, God’s desire is for all of us to be restored to friendship so we can live with Him for all eternity, in His presence where everything good is – friends with Him, just like He intended when He created us.
If you want to be friends with God and have never been spiritually reborn, you can do it right now. Simply pray, telling Him that you believe Jesus is His Son Who died for your sins. Ask Him to forgive you for all you have done wrong – all your selfish decisions, all the things you have done contrary to His perfect ways, and then receive his forgiveness (He absolutely will forgive you when you ask – it’s a promise, sealed with the blood of Jesus). You may feel a relief as the weight of responsibility for your wrong-doing is lifted off you – but don’t worry if you feel nothing: The truth of His forgiveness still remains, whether we feel it or not. Finally, tell Him you choose to turn away from living life your own way and commit to living a new life His way.
Congratulations! You have been born again to spiritual new life in Jesus Christ! Restored to friendship with God!
There is just once more, crucial step that you don’t want to miss (if you’ve read my book you may remember it)…
After Jesus died on our behalf, Hell couldn’t keep Him (He was innocent after all). So having fully and legitimately paid the price for our sin, He was raised back to life, having completely conquered sin, Hell and spiritual death. He returned first to earth and revealed His victory to all His disciples… and then He told them that He was going back to Heaven but would send them a Helper to be with them forever. I am sure they wished He could stay there forever as He was, but His human form was too limiting. He had a better plan – a plan that would mean He could be with us all on Earth, all the time, in constant relationship. So after Jesus returned to Heaven, having told His disciples to wait for the promised gift, He sent his Holy Spirit at the festival of Pentecost, to dwell within all His disciples from that point onwards..
If you have been born again to new spiritual life through Jesus, with your life committed your life to following Him, you are His disciple, and therefore eligible to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He is the Comforter and Helper Jesus promised. who leads us to the fullness of life that Jesus came to free us into.
To be filled with the Spirit as Jesus intended, all you have to do is ask Him. Simply pray ‘Lord, please fill me with Your Spirit’, or whatever words you want to use – and then receive Him. It’s as simple as breathing in. Some people feel suddenly joyful, free, emotional, or even a bit drunk (you’re in good company – check out Acts 2:12-13). Some people feel nothing – and that’s also OK. Like I said before, God’s word is still true, whether we feel it with our natural senses or not. He promised to fill his disciples – and He always keeps His promises.
With the Holy Spirit now living inside you, you are full of the power and presence of God. You are equipped to speak in tongues – usually a heavenly language, or sometimes another earthly language that you don’t naturally speak. It may come spontaneously or you may need to practice.
I encourage you to find someone to pray with if you are finding any of this difficult, but above all, don’t worry about it. Just focus on getting to know God in your new relationship with Him – He’s looking forward to it!
If you have followed the steps above and/ or prayed to know God as your friend, I would love to hear from you! Please get in touch using the form on the ‘contact’ page so I can send you some free resources to help you get to know Him better.
For now though, there are three things you can do that will really help you:
1/ Pray regularly
Not as a religious exercise – just chat to God, any time. Just like a good parent loves their child to talk to them, so our Heavenly Father loves to hear from us. Tell Him about your cares and concerns, ask Him for help, and ask Him what He wants to show you too. Over time you will get used to sensing what He is saying back. Keeping a record of your prayers in a journal can be a real encouragement.
2/ Read your Bible.
If you don’t have one already, I recommend getting an easy to read version like the New International Version or the New Living Translation. Start in the New Testament (about 2/3 of the way through the book), in the book of Matthew, and keep going from there. Reading a chapter a day is a good habit to get into and really helps you get to know God better, but feel free to read as much as you like! It’s better to take your time and soak it in, than speed through it.
3/ Find a group of Christians to connect with.
This might be through a church, but bear in mind some churches are more used to religion than relationship, so look for one where the people are born again. Increasingly nowadays, some churches don’t meet in buildings, but in house groups, and those are usually good too. If you have no idea where to find one, do contact me – I’ll do my best to help you find a group near you!