Matthew 3:8-9 says, “You must prove your repentance by a changed life. And don’t presume you can get away with merely saying to yourselves, ‘But we’re Abraham’s descendants!’ For I tell you, God can awaken these stones to become sons of Abraham!”

In our verse, we have John the Baptist speaking with the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew all about God but they didn’t know God. In the same way that we can read about celebrities online and we “know” all about them, but we don’t know them, it is possible to know all about God and not know God.

It is important that we get to know God. That we personally become acquainted with the God of the Bible until He becomes our God too. The Pharisees knew what the word said about God. They had the Torah which contains Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. They knew the God of Abraham but they did not go the extra step to make Him their God.

We have been talking about loving God but to love God you must first and foremost receive Him as your God personally. I love Bishop TD Jakes, I think he is amazing. But the way I love Bishop TD Jakes and the way I love my pastors Glenn and Esther Nurse is very different. My pastors know me personally and I know them. When I am in trouble or super excited about something, I call or text them. They are my pastors. In the same way, some people’s relationship with God is distant and impersonal. God is a personal God. He knows you and wants you to know Him on a personal level. Where you don’t just read about what He is like but you get to encounter Him in your everyday life. Where he becomes your God.

To be honest, it is easy to love someone from a distance. Bishop can preach an amazing message and I can hear it and never do anything about it. But with my pastors, because of our proximity, when I hear their message I am inclined to respond. Proximity brings accountability. Likewise, when we know about God but do not know God personally and have not received Him as our God, we can hear Him and do nothing about it. But once He becomes an integral part of our lives, He is pretty hard to ignore.

That is how we know that the Pharisees John the Baptist was speaking to didn’t have a personal relationship with God. Their lives remained unchanged even with what they knew. This shows us that simply knowing about God is not enough. We need to be in relationship with God. We need to be in covenant with God, fully committed to Him. That way, He can speak to us and we are more inclined to respond because of our proximity to Him. We are more able to repent and live changed lives not because we are so great but because He is so good and Him being personally involved in our lives means He empowers us to change. He empowers us to repent and to be better. He empowers us to become who He created us to be not just the best version of ourselves. Because for some of us the best version of us on a good day is still pretty messed up.

God helps us become who He created us to be, but that takes proximity and accountability. Whilst we need to have and maintain our relationship with Jesus, we need to have others around us who can come around us and help us be who God has called us to be. This is called a church. We need to be surrounded by other believers. We are part of the body of Christ. So don’t be an eyeball hanging out on the street by yourself. You will get squashed. There is protection in the body. If you haven’t listened already, the message Ready Steady from Maximize Church is waiting for you!

Love and blessings,

Melissa Tsingano.

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