Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
Vermon Pierre said he has been asking himself a simple question lately.
“What does it mean, really, to have a relationship with Jesus?”
Typically, he said, that relationship falls into one of three categories:
- You know a lot about Jesus. You could pass a test.
- Jesus is like a hobby. Your most important hobby, certainly, but you have other things to do.
- It’s more like a job. You work hard for Jesus.
“That can work really well,” he added. “But the question I still want to ask is, ‘Is that it? Is that all that is? For something that is so important and so central, could it be more than that? Should it be more than that?’”
The key word, Pierre has decided, is devotion, demonstrated in Luke 10:38-42:
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The point of the story is that Mary was sitting as close to Jesus as possible even though women of those times usually were not allowed to even sit in the same room with such an important man.
In Pierre’s view, the story shows what it takes to have a devoted relationship with Jesus in these two ways:
- Personal commitment to Jesus. “Look, there’s always going to be stuff to do,” Pierre said, “but Jesus is not stuff to do. He’s not an item on the to-do list. He IS the to-do list. He is the whole thing, and everything that you want to do or dream about or be about should come out of that first thing – am I personally committed to Jesus?”
- Personal experience with Jesus, which Pierre considers even more important: “Mary could have stood in the back, on the wall, and just sort of listened in, or just maybe peek in from the kitchen and listen. … I think the Bible is intentional about mentioning that Mary sat herself in the closest place she could be in that room, at the feet of Jesus.”
And that’s exactly what Jesus wants us to have with Him – a close, intimate relationship in which, as Pierre put it, “your thoughts, your feelings, your desires – your body, even – experience Jesus to know Him at the fullest and deepest level possible.”
Pierre (his first name is pronounced ver-MONE) noted that Jesus didn’t teach with facts and figures, he taught with metaphors. Jesus said He is the Living Water, like a cold drink of water on a hot day. He said He is the Bread of Life, like the most satisfying bread you’ve ever tasted.
“All these metaphors, what we’re seeing, what I hope you’re noticing, (are) about experience,” Pierre said. “It’s about Jesus being real in a way that actually emotionally affects you and moves you and captures your thoughts and your desires in a way that, frankly, you can’t even explain sometimes.”
And you should feel that even though you can’t see Him, as explained in 1 Peter 1:8:
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy …”
Earlier, Pierre had talked about the relationship the slaves had with Jesus before they were freed by the Civil War, how they would risk a horrible whipping to gather together in worship of Jesus. He was more real to them than the harsh realities of their everyday lives.
“I want you to expect this from your faith,” Pierre said. “I want you to demand this from your relationship with Jesus. I want you to begin to see how the worries and the anxieties and all these things begin to creep up and crowd out what you could have with Christ, with Jesus. And I want you to say, ‘That’s what I will always go after. I won’t settle for something less than that.’”
Pierre closed by sharing some ways he believes we can experience Jesus:
- The next time you feel the warmth of the sun, it should remind you of the warmth of Jesus’ love.
- If you hike up a mountain, think of how Jesus gave you the strength to get to that high perch.
- When you meet up with friends, let it be an echo of how Jesus is willing to meet up with you daily.
“Read your Bible and pray in a way where you expect to meet with Jesus,” Pierre said. “You expect Jesus to show up in a way that makes you laugh, that makes you cry, that stirs you in a way that fills you with a joy that you can’t explain. …”
“He is present every single time you even whisper in His direction. He’s always ready to meet with you and be with you.”
● Chapel replay.
● Next week: No Chapel (Presidents Day holiday)
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or email@example.com.