If Following Jesus is about Relationship, Why does He Seem so Distant?

10 Lies Men Believe about PornThis post has been adapted from the chapter, “Lie #7: God Can Set Others Free from Pornography Addiction, but Not Me,” in my new book, 10 Lies Men Believe about PornThis post is part 7 in an 8-week series on life-changing faith. If you would like to begin at part 1, you can do that here.

why is Jesus distantI can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the saying “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.” I’ve even used it myself at times. In a lot of ways, it’s the foundational truth that this entire book is based on. But have you actually stopped to consider what that saying is trying to communicate? It’s the idea that following Jesus is not about living up to some moral standard or performing certain rituals—it’s about actually getting to know Him and about spending time with Him. It’s about having a relationship with Him.

But what does a personal relationship with Jesus actually look like? For that matter, what does a relationship with anyone look like?

In order for any relationship to develop, you must spend time with each other. You must seek to know each other on a personal level. Most importantly, you must trust one another. If you remove any one of these elements from the relationship, it will never grow into a meaningful friendship.

It’s the same with a relationship with Jesus. You can spend time with Him in prayer. You can seek to know all about Him by reading the Bible. But if you don’t trust Him, you will never experience a true relationship with Him.

The moment I came clean about the full depth of my sin was the moment Jesus became real to me. Before that moment, if I was being honest, I called myself a follower of Jesus. But I didn’t know Him personally. I didn’t have a relationship with Him.

Sure, I knew all about Jesus. I had grown up in church and had even gone to seminary, so I knew all the answers to the Bible trivia questions. I even spent time with Him—sort of. I prayed to Him on a regular basis, but it was only when I needed something, never because I just wanted to hang out with Him. As soon as He asked me to do anything that pushed me or required me to trust Him, I would find an excuse to ignore Him. I was fine trusting Him with most things, but I didn’t want to trust Him with everything. I still wouldn’t trust Him when He asked me to bring my sin into the light. I was only holding back a small percentage, but it made all the difference.


I was fine trusting Him with most things,
but I didn’t want to trust Him with everything.


Unless you trust Jesus with everything—100 percent—it shows that you don’t really trust Him at all. I may have been calling Him the Lord of my life, but by picking and choosing in what areas I wanted to trust Him based on my own feelings, I was still controlling the relationship. I was functioning as my own lord.

The more I look at the Scriptures, the more I wonder if I was even saved before that moment when I put my full trust in Jesus. I acknowledge that this is an extreme view, but look at it this way: if we are saved by grace through faith, and I wasn’t trusting Jesus (my faith wasn’t in Him), how could I have been saved?

I recognize now that my faith was still in my own ability to make the best decisions for my life. By choosing not to trust every word Jesus said, I was trying to pick my own path to salvation and refusing to trust Him about the path He had clearly lined out for me. I was more interested in maintaining my temporary happiness in this world than trusting what Jesus promised would lead to eternal happiness and life. I wanted to receive all the blessings of faith without changing my life or acting in a way that would cause others to label me as odd or extreme. I wanted a relationship with Jesus, but only if I didn’t have to risk anything to receive it.

But that’s not the life of faith Jesus calls us to. He makes it clear that true faith will change your life in a way that no one can deny. For example, look at a few of the verses that tell us what the everyday life of a Jesus follower will look like:

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:35).

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).

If my faith had been in Christ, then love, kindness, and all the other fruits of the Spirit would have been flowing out of me. Instead, my life was marked by selfishness, apathy, and manipulation. These were not fruits of a Spirit-filled life; they were fruits of a Steve-focused life.

The verse I think concerns me most—because of the possible implications for so many others who are claiming to be followers of Christ but are still functioning as their own lord—is Matthew 7:22–23:

Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:22–23).

Eternal life in heaven is about Who you know, not what you do. I’m sure I would have been one of the guys standing at the gates of heaven with my résumé of all the great things I had done for Jesus. In reality, because I had never trusted Him, I didn’t even know Him. I was in church, but I wasn’t in Christ. Because I still believed it was my résumé that saved me—all the stuff I supposedly did for Jesus—and I never put my faith in Him, it makes me wonder if I would have been turned away.


I was in church, but I wasn’t in Christ.


Compare all of that to what happened immediately after I chose to trust Jesus fully. Instead of being worried that others would find out about the depth of my addiction, I found myself looking for opportunities to share the story of how Jesus had changed my life. I felt like Peter when the Holy Spirit came upon him and he instantly went from denying his faith to a servant girl to boldly proclaiming Jesus to anyone who would listen.

I felt as if I had a direct line of communication with Jesus and couldn’t stop talking to Him. For the first time ever I felt like I had an actual relationship with Him. He wasn’t just some imaginary being in my mind; He was the most real and intimate friend I’ve ever had.

Honestly, I became the crazy Jesus guy, and I wasn’t ashamed about it. The change in my life was undeniable and shocking.

And best of all, because of the relationship I’ve experienced with Christ, I’ve had no doubt whatsoever since that moment that I’m saved.

Continue to Part 8: How Does Trusting Jesus Help Me with Porn?

10 Lies Men Believe about Porn Preview

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