Face-to-Face With Jesus
Ephesians 3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
If you are a Christian, the first thing that you would have learned about was the love of God. It is probably what drew you into salvation in the first place. I certainly hope that was the case, because it is the best motivation for being saved. It is the love of God, the love of Christ, dying for your sins that you accepted Him into your heart. You can pick up the Bible and anywhere you look you will see about the love of God. You will hear all about it. It is great to hear, "God is love. God loves you."
There is however a distinct difference between knowing of the love of Christ and to "know" the love of Christ through personal experience.
If you can just come to one step in your Christian walk and experience that love of Christ and know Jesus in a face-to-face relationship, all the ministries, all the gifts, and all the other fluff will come into line and make a full picture. It is then, that all the striving stops, and all the experience and the living and being in Christ begins!
So I am going to take you through a couple of steps along this journey, and the very first step is the step of desire. When you desire that love, what happens is that you start taking your eyes off yourself and you start putting them on Jesus. When your desire is towards somebody, immediately your eyes are focused upon that person. Do you remember when you were dating and you had all those butterflies in your stomach when you thought of your girlfriend or boyfriend?
All you needed to do was think of that person, and you would get excited. You didn't care about what was happening during the day. You didn't care about what stress was happening. Your vision was just filled with this person that you were in love with, and that you had feelings for. That is all you could think about. Your eyes and your whole vision were filled with them, and everything else just faded away. When you have that desire for Jesus, it is only then you can really put your eyes on Him.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it speaks about how you look at a mirror, and seeing the image of Christ and are so conformed to that image. But how do you get to that place of looking at that image? You do it by desiring, because when you desire, that is when you will see the image of Christ. You are looking to Him, and your eyes are turned towards Him.
Then, what happens? You start looking at Jesus and the Holy Spirit will come upon you and start chipping away a couple of things that are not so conformed to His image. This is the uncomfortable part. First comes the desire, and then comes the death. I am starting off with death here, and I will lead to resurrection after this. As we look at Christ, you see that there are barriers, and even as you come into a marriage relationship, there are a couple of things you had to change about yourself to fit in with your partner.
When you throw two people together to live together, there needs to come a change. You can't do the things you used to do. If you are a man you can't leave your socks lying on the floor. You now have to pick them up and put them in the washing basket! You can't get away with certain things anymore. You have to change. You have to start blending together, and a lot of the time you will find that there is a lot of conflict in the first year or two of your marriage where you are starting to learn to live together.
I remember when Craig and I were first dating. We each had our own problems, and one of the things Craig really battled with was sharing his problems with me. He was always the kind of person who would handle things by himself. If he had a problem he would just take it and go with it. He would be struggling with something and he would never come and share it with me. But you see, what would happen is it would bring a barrier between us, because I would think, "I wonder if he's mad at me? He's probably mad at me. I'm sure I did something to make him mad at me!"
I would start thinking and my mind would start racing and think, "I wonder what it was? Maybe it was this? Maybe it was that?"
In the meantime all he was doing was drawing into himself because he was trying to handle a problem. That was not however the way I saw it. I thought that maybe he was mad at me and maybe I had done something wrong. So now I was trying on my end to make him happy, and he was trying to sort out his problem on his end, and we were so busy looking at ourselves and our own situations that there came a barrier. There was no communication and no oneness and unity of spirit.
You know, we do the Lord that way. We are so busy with our own problems and we have so many hang-ups of our own that we can't communicate with Him. Perhaps we are used to doing things by ourselves and going off and handling it on our own. The Lord is sitting there waiting, but we are so busy handling this thing that there is no communication. There is no oneness of spirit.
Stripping Away the Veils
So the Lord has to start taking those things away. They are like veils, like the veil that Moses wore when he came down the mountain from being with God. They are veils in front of our eyes that block our view of seeing Him as He really is, so He starts pulling them off. He starts teaching you and saying, "Hey, if you have a problem you come to me." It was just like with Craig and me. We learned that if he had a problem he would come to me and share his heart and then we would tackle the problem together. It brought a unity and a love between the two of us. It is the same with the Lord. We need to come to the place where we are taking away those veils that are preventing us from really seeing Him.
Each of us has different veils. Perhaps you are used to doing things by yourself. Perhaps you have a problem with fear. Perhaps you are not sure if you can approach this big God. Maybe you see Him as your father who was dominating and controlling, and you are too afraid of what you are going to see. The Lord has to take that away though, because it is not what He is really like. You are seeing Him through the wrong veil. You are not seeing Him face-to-face. You are seeing Him colored by your fear, your prejudice, and your works.
Deal With the Issues
Perhaps you have a problem with bitterness. The Lord even had to deal with me on these issues, and before I could come into a face-to-face relationship with Jesus He had to deal with all the bitterness in my life. Bitterness is probably the thickest veil, because Christ is love. He is the essence of life, and bitterness is so far removed from love like the east is from the west, that you cannot possibly even glance at a nuance of His face with bitterness in your heart. It is alien to everything that He is.
So the first thing the Lord had to deal with me about was bitterness in my heart that I had towards my mother and towards people who had hurt me when I was growing up. There were childhood friends, teachers... you name it! And so it seemed like I was doing okay the one day, and the next day there was all this junk in my face.
I was saying, "Oh Lord deliver me!"
It just seemed like so much filth was all of a sudden in my face and I didn't know how to handle it.
You think, "Lord, I asked to go into a relationship with you here, and yet all I see is this junk. All I see if my failures, my weaknesses and everything that is wrong with me."
It is as though the closer you are trying to get to the Lord the further away you feel from Him.
You think, "I'm never going to do this thing. I'm never going to get to the place where I'm in that relationship!"
It seems that the more you are trying to draw near to Him, the more He seems to draw further away. If that is happening to you, all the Lord is doing is He is pulling those veils off one at a time. He is saying to you, "You think you're "there," but you are really "here." You think you are close to me, but there are actually so many things in between us and preventing us from seeing one another that you can't see me face-to-face. I need to take these veils away."
So you have made that commitment and said, "Okay Lord, this is what I desire. I truly, out of my heart, desire this thing."
You say, "Oh Lord, that's not bitterness. They hurt me!"
You can't look at Christ through the eyes of bitterness. He doesn't understand bitterness. You can't look at Him through the eyes of jealousy or anger or guilt or fear. He is none of these things. When you look at Him, you must see Him in the essence that He is.
Sacrificing Your Rights
So you are standing today and you have a scale and you are saying, "Okay on the one side of the balance I have my bitterness. On the other side of the balance I have Christ."
Which one are you going to sacrifice? Is your bitterness so important to you that you will sacrifice the love of Christ? Is holding on to your rights so important to you that you will sacrifice your relationship with Jesus? On the scale, which weighs heavier with you? If you truly want that relationship with Christ, and if the scale truly tips in His favor, then you will be willing to give up anything for that. Anybody can give up their material things.
You say, "Lord, I'll give up anything. Anything!"
You could probably do those things, but He says to you, "I'd like your hurts and your bitterness please. I'd like your guilt. I'd like your fear. I'd like your pride. These are the things I'd like – all the works of the flesh. I would like those."
They will guard it with their lives and say, "I deserve to feel guilty. I deserve to be afraid. I deserve to be bitter. It is my right to be bitter and I will pay any price to be bitter! I will pay my joy. I'll pay my love. I will pay my relationship with Christ, just so that I can hold onto my bitterness."
Does that sound so far-fetched? Yet, how many times do we guard the things with our lives that stand in the way of us entering into a relationship with Christ? We need to allow the Holy Spirit to point those things out to us. Sometimes when He brings that chisel it is not a comfortable pointing out. He sticks His fingers in places that you would rather He didn't stick them into. He goes into memories that you would rather have forgotten about. He pulls them out again and says, "This, this, and this. I need to deal with them. I need to deal with this hurt that you had when you were a child. I need to deal with this hurt that you had from your father, from your mother, from your sister. I need to deal with these things, because there is bitterness there. There is guilt and fear there."
If He is doing that in your life, it is a good thing. It doesn't feel like a good thing when you have that chisel coming down on you, but it is a good thing, because as the Holy Spirit comes and chisels away those pieces that aren't Jesus, that is when you start being conformed to that image.
As those veils are removed, one by one, you will see Jesus before your eyes. It is not that far away. You don't have to be in an exalted spiritual state to see Christ. You don't need to attain and strive and work, read your Bible every day and pray for an hour every day, because, "To see Christ I must run this race with fervor. I must push through to see Christ."
No, you don't have to do any of these things. We can look on Christ, beholding His image and be conformed to that image from glory to glory for one reason and one reason alone. That is because we are blood-bought. We are saved by His grace and His mercy. We look upon His face by His grace, His mercy and His blood, not by our works, our actions or our abilities.
It is something that you can have today. It is not something way there in the future that maybe one day you will see Him. No, this is something you can have today, but all you need to do is desire it and allow the Holy Spirit to take away those veils so you can look upon Him face-to-face, not as Moses, but as a blood-bought believer of Christ looking upon Him and knowing, "This is the one that died for me. This is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with."
Having the Fragrance of Christ
You can have a relationship with Jesus today. You don't need to wait. You see, what is happening is that the Holy Spirit is making you into something beautiful to present to the Groom.
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