Christian, are you experiencing Jesus?
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (ESV)
1 Peter 2:1–3
Have you tasted that the Lord is good?
I'm not asking if you are pious person, a religious person, or a Christian who is sinning less and less and doing good works. Maybe those thoughts went through your mind - they did with me. I'm not asking anything about what you are doing.
The question is simple: Have you tasted that the Lord is good? Have you seen that Jesus is good?
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (ESV)
Maybe you have a question conerning my question: how does someone "taste and see" the goodness of the Lord?
Taste and sight are parts of our senses. Our senses must interact with something if we are to experience something. A blind man cannot enjoy the beauty of the Grand Canyon. A freshly cooked meal cannot be enjoyed by someone who cannot smell or taste. The warm touch of your spouse cannot be had without actually, physically, touching them.
Peter is calling on the senses of this audience. "When is the last time you encountered the goodness of Jesus with your senses?" is his question.
So, maybe you ask, how do you encounter Jesus with your senses?
LEARNING TO ENCOUNTER JESUS
Some say that attending a church gatheirng is the way to encounter Jesus. This is absolutely true.
Some way that attending a small group enables you to encounter Jesus - in Christian community. This is absolutely true.
But - did you know that you can attend church services weekly, be in Christian community regularly, and still, on a week to week or day to day basis, not experience Jesus?
Christians are really good at learning the right lingo and vocabulary to express things to other Christians that they are doing OK with their spiritural growth. They may even be genuinely convinced that they are experiencing Jesus regularly.
But many are not.
LOVING JESUS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE
So how do we experience Jesus? We have acknowledged the real possibility that Christian actions in themselves, as hellpful and biblical as they are, things that every Christian must indeed do, are themselves not enough to encounter and experience Jesus.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (ESV)
You must love Jesus more than anything. More than anything in the world. More than anything in your life. More than anything else.
To love someone is to cry out for their attention. It is to serve them. To have conversation about them and with them. It is to learn more about them and explore who they are. It is to enjoy them. It is to be with them. To laugh with them, to cry with them, to celebrate with them. Things that get in the way of your love for them you will desire to remove in order that your love for and relationship with them will grow and grow
Love is the simple pathway to experiencing Jesus.
LOVING JESUS LEADS TO CHRISTIAN HABITS AND GROWTH
Love builds the foundation and correct motivation for participating in Christian activities. Now, because you love Jesus, you want to attend a church service. Now, because you love Jesus, you want to read, study and memorize the Bible, because it is all about him. Now, because you love Jesus, you want to sit with other Christians and talk about Jesus. Now, because you love Jesus, you want to talk to him, cry out to him, and worship him.
Now, because you love Jesus, your life and your habits will reflect this love. It is no accident that Peter includes the "putting away of malice and deceit" and "longing for pure spirtual milk" and "tasting that the Lord is good" all in the same sentence. You can't taste and see the goodness of Jesus if you don't love him. You cannot be longing to put away malice and deceit, the things that are not of Jesus, if you do not love him. You cannot long for the pure, basic milk of the truths of your salvation, if you do not love him.
As you see, they are all related. Cultivating a deeper love for Jesus is pathway for Christian growth.
So the question is rather simple: Are you experiencing Jesus?
Or maybe we can simply ask: Are you cultivating in your heart a deeper love for Jesus?