Seven Ways to Increase Intimacy with Jesus Through the Word
by NR JOHNSON
Relationships are not microwavable.
You can’t expect to have a deep and meaningful relationship with anyone in under five minutes. Relationships take time, investment, intentionality, and … well … more time.
The same is true in our relationship with God.
If you desire greater intimacy with Jesus and long to know Him better, you need to spend time with Him. While prayer and being in community within a local church can be helpful ways to spend time with Him, I want to focus on your time in His Word.
Simply put, Scripture is essential to our growth and maturity as Christians and critical for our understanding of and intimacy with Jesus. Authentic Christian discipleship hinges upon God’s Word. And the primary reason we spend time in Scripture is that we want to grow in intimacy, oneness, and relationship with the Author.
If that is true, then how do Christians interact with the Word for growth? How do we build our lives around Jesus Christ by getting into His Word?
I’ve found seven key ways to interact with God’s Word, leading to greater growth and intimacy. If you do them to know Jesus Christ (and not out of obligation or duty), they will lead you into a greater relationship and closeness with Him.
1. Read — God’s Word
Most of us treat Scripture like a textbook in high school — it’s there when we have to use it for homework; otherwise, it makes a great doorstop. But God’s Word is not science, Shakespeare, or sociology; it is the very words of our King. And His Word says that it is living and active and that we should delight ourselves in it because it is sweeter than honey. (See Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 119:16, 24, 103; Psalm 19:10.)
Charles Spurgeon, the great prince of preachers, once declared:
True Bible-readers and Bible-searchers never find it wearisome. They like it least who know it least, and they love it most who read it most. They find it newest who have known it longest, and they find the pasture to be the richest whose souls have been the longest fed upon it.
Do you read God’s Word? If not, I would encourage you to develop a daily habit of basking in the richness of His truth. Even if you are a slow reader, you can read through the entire Bible in a year if you’ll commit to about ten minutes a day.
2. Retain — Memorize God’s Word
Many of us cringe when we hear the word “memorize.” I admit it is not one of my favorite words and memorization has been difficult for me throughout the years. But one thing I’ve found is that when I write God’s Word upon my heart, it transforms my thinking and daily living.
We live in a time when memory isn’t needed. We have Google, Evernote, and our smartphones to do the hard thinking for us. And yet, while we may not use our brains as often as we should, they have incredible power to think, reason, and memorize. God made our brains capable of storing information and quickly retrieving it when necessary.
We can all memorize, but we typically only memorize things we deem important and valuable.
If you value Scripture, ask God for help and create a routine where you work on memorization, you’ll be amazed at how much Scripture you can memorize.
3. Ruminate — Study God’s Word
Reading God’s Word is not a substitute for studying it. Or, as it is said, we read for breadth and study for depth.
One of the most rewarding and transformational things I do is study Scripture — it increases my understanding and love for truth and gives me an increasing passion for Jesus Christ.
It is important to remember that studying the Bible isn’t for mere academics (or head knowledge) but greater intimacy and relationship with God Himself.
While how to study the Bible is a different subject, you can find additional help and resources I’ve written to get you started at www.deeperChristian.com/Bible.
4. Relish — Delight in God’s Word
God declares that we are to delight and find joy in His Word. Reading and studying the Bible is not supposed to be a punishment; it should be one of our greatest joys.
The Psalmist explained this concept using the sweetest thing he knew about: honey. But if I may take the liberty to turn it into 21st-century chocolate language, the Psalmist says:
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than [chocolate] in my mouth!
When we have a proper understanding of God’s Word, we discover that we are to relish it. It is our delight and joy because it reveals Truth (Jesus Christ) and thereby gives us life.
Jesus declared in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and the Word of God points us to the Way, Truth, and Life (Jesus Christ).
Do you treasure God’s Word? Do you come to Scripture with joy? If not, ask God to give you a hunger and passion for His Word.
5. Recite — Declare God’s Word
When you read, study, and are transformed by the truth of God’s Word, you can’t contain it! Scripture creates a volcano within your life and has to come out.
When we behold an incredible sunset, a “wow” escapes our lips. We don’t have to try, it just comes out. The same is true when we get into Scripture — when we see Jesus and His Word transforms us, we can’t help but share it.
Regardless of how you “recite” it, declaring God’s Word gives language for what God is doing in your life and often becomes a means God will use to encourage and challenge people around you. Our lives as Christians are not to be as a bottle kept on a shelf, a candle hidden beneath a basket, or salt left in a salt shaker. Truth is contagious and should bubble forth from our lives — not because we are forced, but because we can’t help ourselves.
6. Rest — Build your life upon God’s Word
If we want to build a house, we first set the foundation. If the foundation is weak, the building is weak.
Scripture is our foundation, our bedrock, for living. It is the truth we boldly stand upon. It is the standard the Holy Spirit uses to measure our lives. It is the very words of God, which all point to Jesus Christ and His work upon the Cross.
As we rest upon His Word, walking in faith and obedience, we discover that our lives are being built upon an unshakable and unmovable foundation.
7. Respond — Be transformed by God’s Word
The Holy Spirit desires to conform us to the image of the Son.
A key to Christlikeness is to respond to the Word and allow the Spirit of God to transform us. We must approach the Word with arms wide open, willing to respond to the truth, desiring the Holy Spirit to do His work within us.
Will you approach Scripture with the desire to “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”? (See Ephesians 4:13.) Will you allow the Word of God to be the measuring rod in your life against which the Holy Spirit tests you? Will you rest upon and respond to Scripture so He can transform your heart and mind? (See Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 3:17–18; 5:17; 1 John 2:6; 3:2–3.)