Jesus cares about our friendship with Him! "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).
Is your personal devotional life characterized by shoulds, oughts, and good enoughs? These guilt-tripped, performance-oriented, legalistic perfectionisms are negative motivations. It is much healthier spiritually to view our devotional life as a natural result of a deep, intimate, transparent, and candid relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes when I'm home between revival trips, my wife, Vickie, bakes wonderful chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies. She sets the oven temperature at 350 degrees and then sets the timer for 15 minutes.
But she has never set a timer for her conversations with me. We are best friends. And our times of personal communication grow naturally out of our relationship. It's not something that we have to do. It's something we get to do.
In personal visits or phone conversations with my friends I've never timed the duration of any obligatory communication. It's a natural result of my desire to be with them and talk to them.
That's the way I view my daily conversations with the Lord. They are not chummy, disrespectful, or irreverent, but intimate and personal.
Does this suggest that we throw away self-discipline and setting priorities in our time of prayer and Bible study? Does that mean we become lazy, negligent, apathetic, and nominal? No way.
It all boils down to this:
- Jesus calls us His friends.
- Friends develop their relationship by voluntary, uncoerced communication.
- It's unhealthy to be loaded down with shoulds, oughts, and good enoughs proceeding from legalism or perfectionism.
- The motive and attitude of "I get to spend time with the Lord and His Word" contributes to a maturing personal friendship.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me"(Revelation 3:20).
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself - it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:4).
These verses clearly show that the Lord cares about an abiding relationship with us. What's a healthy perspective of our personal devotions? It's something that we get to do. It's not a chore to accomplish. It's a privilege to enjoy!
Norman Moore is a tenured evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene.