The first step in having a personal relationship with Christ it to admit that you are not perfect and that you need Him for your salvation. To admit that we are not perfect is to admit that we sin. A simple definition of sin is being self-centered rather than God centered. Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven Life begins, “It is not about you.” Our purpose in life is to glorify God. And the choice we have is either to trust in ourselves, to trust in Christ, or to trust in something else for our salvation.
Putting Your Trust in Him
So, to begin to have a relationship with Christ, you must put your trust in Him. One way to do that is to offer a simple prayer to God: I admit that I have sinned and my sin separates me from you. I believe that Christ paid the penalty for all my sins when he died on the cross. I receive Your free gift of eternal life now, and thank You for loving and forgiving me.
Steps to Build the Relationship
When you pray that you need Christ and put your trust in Him, He will begin to transform your life as long as you seek to continue the relationship with Him. In some ways our relationship with Christ is not unlike other personal relationships. We have to work at it for it to continue to grow. How do we do that? The simple answer is to spend time with God. Here are some steps you can take to do that:
- Prayer — Prayer is simply a conversation with God. One way I like to think about prayer is with the acrostic ACTS.
- “A” is for adoration. Spend time praising God for who He is and what He has done for you. Reading through the many praises in Psalms (e.g., 103, 145, and 150) is one way to do that. Another is to read or sing some hymns or songs you hear in church. I try to remember praise songs I like and put them on a playlist.
- “C” is for confession. Think over things you have done which may be contrary to what God would have you do and ask for his forgiveness. Repentance (i.e., turning away from the sin and toward God) should follow confession.
- “T” is for thanksgiving. Having an attitude of thankfulness is an important part of our relationship with Christ. Think of all you are thankful for and pray that to God.
- ‘S” is for supplication. Supplication is the humble way of asking or petitioning God to help with your needs. For many of us this is the focus of our prayers, but it should not be our only type of prayer. Adoration, confession and thanksgiving should also be part of our prayer life.
- Meditation – Meditation is a form of prayer which is sometimes neglected but a good way to build a relationship with God. One way to meditate is to find a Bible verse which is meaningful to you and meditate on that. Another is to meditate on a certain characteristic of God (e.g., omnipotent) or a promise of God (e.g.,” I will be with you always, even to the very end of the ages,” Matthew 28:20).
- Bible reading – The Bible is the Word of God. To understand God, it is essential to understand what He says. I suggest daily reading. One way to begin is by reading both a Psalm and a chapter of the New Testament starting with its first book, Matthew.
- Daily devotional – A good practice is to have a time for daily devotions. A good way to do that is to have a devotional book to guide you. This is typically a small book with readings for each day. One of my favorites is My Utmost for the Highest by Oswald Chambers. There are many others. For me, I have a time for devotions, prayer and Bible reading the first thing in the morning.
- Weekly church attendance – Find a Bible-believing church which you can attend weekly. It is good to be able to worship with others, to be inspired by music and to be taught through sermons.
- Small group – It is always helpful to get involved in a small group with fellow believers. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions, get feedback and to have a group of people to pray for and with you.
- Baptism – Consider baptism. Baptism is a public affirmation of faith. Baptism symbolizes a commitment to Christ and the washing away of your sins.
- Resist backsliding – This takes discipline which comes from practicing the above. Consider having an accountability partner or partners – perhaps a close Christian friend or your small group to encourage you and keep you on track.
The steps above are a form of discipline. Discipline takes time and commitment. When starting out, however, don’t feel that immediately you have to take every step above. Building a relationship with Christ happens takes time and happens over time. The more you engage Jesus, the more He will engage you. As that relationship grows, you will conform to the way He would have you live. In doing so, you will experience a deeper sense of joy no matter what challenges you face.