Pastor Victor G was born in Malaysia and is currently residing in Auckland, New Zealand. Called to travel the world to preach the Gospel and share the goodness of God through the preaching of the Word and self-composed contemporary Gospel songs, Pr Victor G is no stranger to many believers in Malaysia. Over the last 6 years, Pr Victor G has collaborated with over 100 churches around this region and continues to dedicate at least 8 months in a year ministering amongst churches in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.
In one of his recent visits to a number of churches in Malaysia, he shared about the essence of a personal relationship with God. He conveyed that for any relationship, in order for it to grow, strengthen and blossom, it will consist of at least two things at the very core. First, strong relationships are established when time are spent between two involving parties. It is during these times that are spent together that the relationship progresses beyond the superficial level. Through these ‘moments’ spent together, it paves the way for stories to form; stories that are cherished upon when reflected on. The more these stories accumulate, the more it defines the depth of the relationship. Similarly, our relationship with God can and ought to be filled with memorable stories a.k.a testimonies, enough to fill diaries.
Secondly, true relationships will always require hard work. Just like marriage, sometimes there are bound to be rough patches, times when we need to shore and build each other up, times when we need to be patient with each other, times when we need to share each other’s burden. In our relationship with God, there will also be rough patches. These rough patches are due to the fact that we as humans are very much forgetful and ungrateful beings. This flawed tendency is nothing new as we witness it from the very get go in the Old Testament itself.
Pr Victor shared an example from the book of Exodus about how the Israelites who were miraculously led by Moses to cross the Red Sea, took only 3 days to turn their back on God and began grumbling against Moses. ‘Many of us are like that. Even Paul the Apostle had his struggles (Romans 7:15). We are creatures of flesh; that’s why it requires hard work to work on our relationship with God. But God has given us His Spirit, and by His grace we find strength, wisdom and guidance to overcome areas we are struggling with’.
When it comes to relationship with God, there is much to learn from John the disciple. John’s intimate relationship with Jesus was evidenced through a series of events recorded within the Gospels.
Described as the disciple whom Jesus loved (on four occasions), he was the only disciple that stayed with Jesus up to the point when Jesus was crucified. ‘When courage failed in all the other disciples, John stepped up and was not fazed by the fact that his neck could very well be on the chopping board. In other words, he couldn’t care less what the Roman soldiers could potentially do to him. To John, Jesus who is his best friend, his saviour, now hanging on the cross, was writhing in agony and the least he could do at that point was to stay put and be with Jesus right till the end.
‘And just before Jesus died, he entrusted his own mother into the hands of John for him to care for (John 19:26). This was a mark of the trust Jesus had in John; as we don’t simply hand our mother to a regular friend or person unless it is someone who we are closely and tightly affiliated with. And this special bonding that John had with Jesus has inevitably influenced the way he constructed the Gospel of John. Therefore, to read the Gospel of John, one has to read it from a relational perspective which would help bring about a better appreciation on many of John’s intended messages.’
One of the Greek words that John frequently used was the word meno which has 8 to 9 different possible translations in the English language, subject to the context in which the sentence sits in. However, out of all these possible translations, it can be grouped broadly into three categories. The first category is in the context of a locality such as the word staying in a place, the second category is situational (caught in a traffic), and the third category is in the context of a relationship (Abiding in him). And a total of 39 times is seen in the NT where meno was used relationally. Of these, 38 times were found in the Gospel of John.
One of the popular verses we find this word meno occuring is in John 15:4 that says “Abide in me as I abide in you”. This abiding (or remain pending on the version of your Bible) is clearly presented when John uses the imagery of the vine and its branches to illustrate the nature of this relationship. As the branch is always connected to the vine, so should our relationship with Jesus be; a 24/7 relationship.
‘God is not someone that we visit in the church on a Sunday for two hours and bid farewell, only to return a week later for our next visitation session, as if the church is an old folk’s home and God is a resident there. For some nominal believers, their faith is only relevant on a weekend service. Apart from that, the rest of the week is lived out as an ‘undercover Christian’; with some even feeling embarrassed to share their faith while others who just couldn’t be bothered doing so.
‘Imagine if we befriended a major celebrity (Eg: Leonardo DiCaprio) or someone famous (Prince William), surely many is super eager to tell others about this new found friendship. Simply because we can’t wait to ‘brag’ about it. If that being the case, shouldn’t we be even more excited to tell our non-Christian friends about this amazing, caring and all-powerful Creator who actually loves every single one of us even to the extent of dying for us? We must be excited about our relationship with God. Every opportunity we get we must become the best ambassador for God. Giving people that are around us the opportunity to ask us about who this God is,’ Pr Victor conveyed.
There are three things that Pr Victor proceeded to highlight from John 15 regarding this relationship. The first is that Christ no longer calls us servants (verse 15). Instead He calls us friends, and furthermore, everything that He has learned from the Father He has made known to us. This is another part of the Scripture that is easy to gloss over its significance. We need to take a moment to reflect on this verse to better appreciate what an amazing privilege that God has offered to all humanity; a privilege that was paid with a hefty price but yet offered to us free of charge.
‘This is a great gift from an awesome and majestic God, made possible by Jesus Christ,’ highlighted Pr Victor. As we look into the OT, we see only 2 people who were ever privileged enough to be known as a ‘friend’ of God; eg Moses (Exodus 33:11) and Abraham (Isa 41:8). But since the arrival of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, the gap between God and us has been bridged. And because of this friendship, humans are now allowed to approach the throne of God and confidently address this Creator as our Father.
‘The Christian God is a relational God. He not only condones it but lovingly adopts us as His children (Gal 4:4). Hence it is so natural for any and every believer while praying to God, to call him our very own Abba Father. And let us be reminded that this privilege between any created being and his/her Creator is not evident or available in any other major religions in the world.’
NOTE: This is the first part of a coverage on a sharing by Pr Victor G about the essence of a personal relationship with God. To find out more about Pr Victor’s ministry, you may visit the website victorgee.com and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/victor.g.ministry]. All photos kindly provided by Pr Victor G.
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