[Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of articles on the theme, “Being Transformed as Catholic Men.” Over the next several weeks, the articles will describe how we as Catholic men can be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Future articles will include the transformation of our minds, hearts, and families. Click here to read the first article.]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (1 John 1:1-2)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Has anyone ever asked you, “Do you know Jesus?” This question can make us feel uncomfortable, either because it seems very personal in nature or because we really don’t know how to answer it. After all, how can anyone “know” the eternal Son of God, the living Word of God (John 1:1-2)? Immediately, we sense that knowing Jesus involves more than an intellectual grasp of his teachings or a familiarity with the story of his life, death, and resurrection. To say, “I know Jesus” is more like saying, “I know Jack. He’s my neighbor and friend,” or “I know my wife very well.”
As daunting a question as this may seem, in reality it’s probably one of the most encouraging, hope-filled questions anyone could ever ask us. Why? Because Christianity, more than anything else, is about a person, Jesus Christ. More specifically, it is about having a personal relationship with that person. Knowing Jesus is not intended to be a hard endeavor. In fact, it’s very easy not because Jesus is so compatible with us but because he wants us to know him. Jesus longs to have a personal relationship with us. And as we deepen this relationship with him, we will find that he is transforming us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So how do we get to know Jesus? One of the best ways is through the Scriptures, the written Word of God. Scriptures do far more than convey information or tell a good, stirring story. It has the power to transform our minds from the inside out. Every time we read Scriptures, it is Jesus himself speaking to us if we let him. He comes to fill our minds with his truth and his promises. He comes to free our hearts from harmful desires, sinful enticements, and painful memories. When we read the Scriptures, Jesus will reveal his great love for us, but he may also ask us to re-evaluate our lives. At times, he may challenge us to serve others or to spend more time with him on a daily basis. Other times, he may point us to words of comfort for us or for a loved one. And more than anything else, Jesus wants us to read his word so that we can draw closer to him and so that he can draw closer to us.
Think about how much we all like bargains or “sure deals.” Well, God is making us an incredible offer here, one that we can’t afford to pass up. For our part, all we have to do is sit down and read Scripture prayerfully. For his part, God will open the eyes of our heart and reveal himself to us and this revelation will fill us with peace and joy. Jesus wants us to know him. He wants us to experience his presence throughout each day. So let’s immerse ourselves in his word every day so that his wisdom can make its way into our hearts and transform us.
Peter said that God’s divine power has given us everything we need “through the knowledge” of Jesus (2 Peter 1:3). Knowing Jesus and Scriptures doesn’t just make us friends with God amazing as this is. Knowing Jesus transforms our lives forever. So what can possibly hold us back? We can if we hold on to fears, sins, or frustrations. Spend time with Jesus each day in prayer; spend time with Jesus each day reading the Bible. Let his words soften your heart and strengthen your mind. He came to call us to a deeper life with him, and this invitation brings with it a call to a change of heart (Mark 1:15). As you respond to his call, you too will become a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
“Lord Jesus, I know that your gospel is meant to transform lives. Come, Lord, and let your words penetrate my heart, so that I can see your love and tender care. Lord, help me turn from sin and embrace your life. My heart is open, and my spirit is willing.”
“Lord Jesus, let me hear your voice as I read Scriptures. I want to know the power of your divine nature working in me, drawing me closer and closer to you. I want to know you more deeply as a friend, even as I learn to submit to your authority and lordship. I want to know the hope that is in you and the Scriptures. Let your words move powerfully within me.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
(Maurice Blumberg is Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men. This article is part of NFCM's sponsorship of the Catholic Man channel. Contact NFCM at P.O. Box 86381, Gaithersburg, MD 20886 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to make a contribution to the NFCM, just click here.)
Reflection Questions on Page 2
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. What would be your response to the question, “Do you know Jesus?”
2. Do you believe, as the article states, “Jesus longs to have a personal relationship with each of us?” Why or why not?
3. What steps do you believe Jesus wants you to take to deepen your relationship with him?
4. Do you believe that Scripture has the power to transform our minds and hearts (see 2 Timothy 3:16)? How important to you is spending time each day reading Scripture? How important should it be?
5. The article lists several things that can “hold us back” from knowing Jesus. What, if anything, holds you back?
6. If you are in a men’s group, pray together the prayer at end of the article.