Ours is a world of pain.
It’s a world full of suffering and hurt, desperation and despair. Sin has laid waste to our world, destroying our relationships, businesses, and everything in between. Humanity longs for a source of hope, a rescue from our toil, an escape from the endless cycle of seemingly meaningless events we know as life. In our natural state, we feel… empty.
We feel as if there must be more to this life than merely waking up each day and going to school or work before hitting our pillows to repeat the same cycle of events again. While humanity has looked for hope in a million different sources – including fame, alcoholism, substance abuse, and sex – there comes a point where it becomes exceedingly clear that none of these things provide mankind with a meaningful and purpose-filled life. For the Christian, the reason for this is obvious: There is only one place humanity can turn to find lasting hope, and that is in the person of Jesus Christ.
In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases the second chapter of Colossians this way:
“You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without Him. When you come to Him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything…”
When God created mankind, He did so with the intention of creating a being that would enjoy a lasting relationship with Him forever. Thus, there is no pursuit more fulfilling than the pursuit of an intimate relationship with our Creator. He is everything, and apart from Him, we are nothing.
Jesus Christ is our staple, our bread, the very air we breathe. Imagining life without Jesus is as absurd a notion as imagining life without oxygen or water.
Yet, as absurd as it is to imagine a life lived without Jesus, so many of us Christian teenagers still live the majority of our lives acting as if He doesn’t exist. Sure, we may attend church on a Sunday morning and sure, we may hang out at youth group on a Wednesday night, but this is the extent of our relationship with our Creator.
It is this attitude of carelessness that causes many Christian teenagers to feel almost as hopeless as their unbelieving counterparts. We claim to have a relationship with God, but we spend little to no time with Him and put little to no effort in getting to know Him.
Now, I don’t know how your relationships work, but every relationship I have been in has been two-sided. It has been vital to the success of every single one of my healthy relationships that both members invest time, effort, and energy into the relationship and into each other.
The same is true of our relationship with God. If we aren’t willing to spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, our relationship with Him will never thrive and we will never find any kind of lasting fulfillment in this life, because, as stated earlier, He is everything.
Understanding all of this, how is it that we actually obtain and sustain a meaningful, intimate relationship with our Creator?
1) We Pray
We start off with prayer. No attempt to get to know God better will ever succeed without His assistance, and His assistance comes only through prayer. Let God know you’re interested in seriously pursuing a relationship with Him, and ask Him for the strength to follow through.
2) We Read
Thanks to the generosity of our loving God, we have thousands and thousands of pages filled with His words in the Bible. There is no better way to get to know God than to dig into Scripture and to see what He says about Himself. If you’ve never spent much time in God’s Word, I would encourage you to start with the book of Romans. This is a beautiful book that lays out many of the fundamental principles of the Christian life.
Beyond reading Scripture, you will find it exceedingly helpful to read as many spiritual growth books as you can get your hands on. These books allow us to continually look at Scripture from a fresh perspective, highlighting key truths in God’s Word that we may not have seen in our personal readings. I strongly recommend “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer and “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain” by Matt Chandler. Both are solid books that have impacted the way I view my Creator.
3) We Apply
Finally, we apply. Our knowledge of God’s Word means absolutely nothing if we don’t apply the values and commands made in Scripture to our own lives. Each day, we face hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions and temptations. If we truly desire a healthy relationship with God, we must conform to the standard of living laid out by Scripture, making all decisions accordingly.
As teenagers, it can be tempting to put God on the back-burner, to live our lives the way we want and to promise ourselves that we will make God a higher priority when we’re older. I know this because I face the same temptation on a regular basis. But we cannot give in, we cannot give up. Trying to live this life without God is not living at all.
There is no source of lasting fulfillment or purpose apart from Him. Don’t waste your teenage years. Don’t procrastinate your relationship with Him until you’re older.
Pursue Him with all your might, and obey His commands, for this is really living.