I currently work with a program that is designing mini courses to introduce concepts of the Catholic faith to adults, especially new catechists. We have been struggling to write the course on Jesus of all things. You would think this would be an easy one, I mean he’s kind of a big deal and the cornerstone of our whole Catholic faith. We can’t screw this one up. The current draft has some wonderful information in it – notes about the culture, history, socioeconomic and political environment Jesus grew up in, how various characters in the New Testament related to him, a comparison of the 4 Gospels, an analysis of the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection, etc. All great things and so important to know and understand when learning about who Jesus is.
But something keeps nagging at me, like we are missing something. Gary Zimak’s new book Find a Real Friend in Jesus, is exactly what we have been missing. You can know a lot of theology, history and Church doctrine about Jesus. But if you want to grow in your faith, you have to know Jesus. Zimak offers “10 amazingly easy steps” through which we can not only come to know Jesus, we can actually begin to have a real relationship with him – dare I say consider Jesus a true friend.
Zimak isn’t lying. These steps are very easy. What’s the catch then you say? It’s all in the follow-through. It’s very easy to read the Bible when you understand the message and it’s uplifting. It’s not as easy to read passages that challenge you to change, grow, or adopt a new vision for the world. It’s very easy to pray to Jesus when we are in need of something. It’s not as easy to get up 20 minutes early to spend quiet time (and awake time) talking to our Lord about the areas of our life that need adjusting. It’s very easy to complain about our sufferings. It’s much much harder to endure them day after day, or, even more fruitful, embrace them as Christ embraced his own cross. Just like any relationship will fizzle and die if both sides do not actively talk and spend time together, your relationship with Jesus will be what you make of it. All Jesus needs is a little crack in the door to let his light and friendship shine into your life. Open yourself up to him a little and he will give you all of himself and more.
One thing that I really loved about Gary’s book is that I’m pretty sure in each step he mentions asking God for the grace, strength, courage, inspiration, etc. to accomplish the step. I think that this is key. Even with “easy” steps, we still can and should ask for the grace to fulfill them to their fullest. We can do nothing without God. Even the part of the relationship that deceptively appears to be ours is just another way that we can allow God to live and work through us.
Do you wish you and Jesus had a stronger relationship? (a question everyone should respond yes to, in case you were curious). Do you feel like you don’t have a relationship with Jesus? By practically and faithfully employing the steps that Zimak lists (or even most of them, depending on who you are and what time you are willing to commit to this endeavor) you can make, re-start and grow your relationship with Jesus.