Maintaining your relationship with God…
Talk to God
In Mark 1:35 we read, ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’ Similarly, at one of the darkest moments of Mark’s account we find Jesus praying to God as ‘Father’, acknowledging that God is in control, and longing for God’s will to be done (Mark 14:35-36). Prayer is an expression of our dependence upon God. It is simply talking to God, telling him your hopes and fears, bringing him your doubts and troubles, and thanking him for all that he has done for you. And God hears and responds to prayers of faith (Mark 11:22-26).
Listen to God
Jesus’ teaching was saturated in ‘Scripture’ (the ‘Old Testament’, the first part of the Bible) he quoted it and alluded to it. Jesus regarded Scripture as the word of God (Mark 7:13), which has binding authority over our lives. He also regarded the message of the gospel, and his teaching, as something that should be adhered to (Mark 8:35, 38) – a fact that is confirmed by God who commands Jesus’ followers to ‘listen to him!’ (Mark 9:7). When we read the Bible we are reading communication from God himself. Because understanding is a gift from God, it is good to pray that God would give us understanding of his word and that he would help us apply it to our lives.
In Mark 5 Jesus turns up in Gentile (non-Jewish) territory, where there was no potential for misunderstanding his identity claims. Instead of urging secrecy for fear of people misconstruing Jesus' claims, here Jesus encourages someone to speak out. Jesus says, 'Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you' (5:19). The man goes away and travels around the Ten Cities, telling people how much Jesus had done for him (5:20).
Tell others about your new faith in Jesus. You cannot be a secret Christian (Mark 8:38). Speak to your family, friends and course-mates. Tell them your story, about your quest and your journey, but emphasise how you came to understand the good news about Jesus. Major not on yourself, but on all that Jesus has done for you.
Belong to God’s family
Jesus completely re-defined the concept of family. It is not a matter of biology, for Jesus said, ‘Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3:35). Jesus promised those who had lost everything to follow him that they would receive much, much more because (it is implied) they belong to the Christian community (Mark 10:29-31). Some people will be rejected by their families because of their faith – the Christian community will be a family to them. Some people will lose property and possessions for their faith – the church will provide for them. You belong to the global family of believers simply by trusting Jesus, but you show your family-membership by belonging to a local church. Find a church that believes the gospel, teaches the Bible, prays faithfully, and nurtures real community.