I was thinking today about different people from the bible who had a personal encounter with Jesus and what that looked like.
Jesus met a woman at a well one day. He asked her for a drink and when she commented on his request, he said if she knew who he was she would have asked him for the water he had. The conversation progresses and he tells her things he could not have known in the natural. She drops her stuff and runs off to the village telling everyone about ‘the man who told me everything I ever did. He’s the Messiah!” (John 4:29)
This woman had an encounter with God!
What about Zacchaeus? He was up a tree. Jesus came along and told him to come down and have dinner with him. Jesus doesn’t appear to rebuke him, but part way through the evening, Zacchaeus declares he’s going to give back the money he’s taken dishonestly.
There are so many people in the Word that had encounters with God, and we don’t know all their stories in great detail, but there’s a few things I notice.
Firstly, when people encounter Jesus, there is always a reaction to him – what I mean by that is that people either love him or hate him. People either respond to his love, or baulk at grace. Secondly there is always repentance, change. Not always because we’re doing something wrong, but because he instills in us the idea that we want to and are able to rise above where we are . Whatever happens, when we encounter Jesus we are never left the same way he found us. And finally, there will always be outreach. When we have a personal encounter with Jesus, we can’t help but tell people! No one needs to tell us to do that. We just can’t help ourselves.
I meet so many people who call themselves Christians, and yet I can’t see that they have truly encountered Jesus. I am not talking about being loud or demonstrative in our personality, but when we encounter Jesus there will be evidence. Sometimes you just meet them in a random encounter.
I love it when we meet people and their encounter with Jesus comes through in every aspect of their conduct and conversation. I don’t even necessarily mean that they talk about it all the time. A person who has encountered Jesus will be a wonderful servant, a humble help, a kind heart, a gracious friend, quick to pray and encourage, and slow to speak negatively or doubting. When we rub shoulders with Jesus, he rubs off on us.
I recently went to a big supermarket, and on the door was a man handing out shopping baskets. His manner was friendly and kind. He was very personable to each customer. We chatted for just a moment. As I came back out of the store, I asked him if he was a Christian. He hadn’t mentioned Jesus but the manner he conducted itself made it evident. He was, and we talked about his journey fo a few moments. Every customer that goes in to that store, meets Jesus when they are greeted.
When people meet us, do they find someone who has been turned around by our own encounter with Jesus. I’m not even meaning a Damascus Road deal, but just in our every day encounters with the Lord. Are we impacting others and telling them with our lives, words and actions about the encounters we have had with the Living God?
Today I want to challenge you, to remind yourself of your own encounters with Jesus. Rehearse them, remind yourselves, share them and continue to spend time encountering him! We don’t have to wait for a particular conference, speaker or event to encounter Jesus. We just have to take a moment to spend set our hearts on him and allow him to speak.
If you feel like you haven’t had an encounter with the Lord in a while, find a bit of space, worship him. He is with you! As we intentionally allow ourselves to focus our hearts and minds on his wonderful love and presence, we will be aware of those close encounters and we will change and others will see it in us.