It wasn't until my Junior year in college that I started to make a serious effort to understand my faith and why it was important to me. Long story short, I discovered Jesus as a person for the first time in the community that He provided me with at the Catholic campus center at KU. As I grew to know and understand Him and His will for me, I became more and more convicted to live out my faith in Him as the center of everything I do. Am I perfect at that even now as a missionary? Of course not! But its a decision I must make day in and day out, to love Him with all that I am because He loves me into existence.
This journey of coming to know Christ as a person instead of an institution has brought me an incredible conviction to help others discover it too! Naturally, through deeper exploration of scripture, God revealed a way to show others how to encounter Him as the person of Jesus Christ within the Gospels.
This revelation came in the form of a Bible study that specifically focused on passages that Jesus relates to us as a human being. These passages include things like His taking on human flesh, His Baptism, His temptations, His emotions, and His agony in the garden. By studying these instances in Jesus' life, He starts to become more real to the reader, because they can relate to Him (Heb 2:17-18).
Once the reader starts to relate to Jesus, they start to KNOW Him personally. Only then can they start to let His life and teachings take on new meaning within them, within the context of that relationship. One thing about scripture that is often overlooked is the fact that it is the LIVING Word of God. Its not just some story book thats a couple thousand years old. It is Jesus, coming to dwell in us, in whatever situation we find ourselves in life. Don't believe me? Go read John Chapter 1, and you'll see that the Word IS God! This means that every time we open scripture, God speaks to us personally. It applies to each one of us here and now.
A practical way I tell guys to pray with scripture in order to truly relate to Christ personally is to ask themselves these 3 questions:
1. Do I believe this is God speaking to me here and now?
2. What is He saying to me specifically?
3. How am I applying it to my life right now?
Coming to know Christ in a personal relationship is essential. As Pope Benedict said in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person(Jesus Christ), which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."
Often times people fall into the assumption that God is an abstract idea or being that is just on the fringe of the Universe, watching but not acting. More frequently in the Catholic church, people just think of the church as an institution with a bunch of rules. And we all know that rules without a relationship leads to rebellion. Do yourself a huge favor and get to know Jesus as a person, I promise it will change your life!