Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Close Encounter of the Most Important Kind

Close Encounter

A Close Encounter of the Most Important Kind

Several years ago, I remember reading an article in which the chief scientist of NASA predicted that we will have evidence of life on other planets in the next decade. In fact, a planet quite similar to earth has been located a mere 1,400 lightyears away, and it may be a top candidate. However, using our current technology, it would take about 20 million years to travel there so, even if we were to discover life there, I doubt we'll be setting up an exchange student program with them anytime soon.

But it's an interesting subject that has made for many a sci-fi movie, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Imagine discovering — and then making contact with — life forms beyond our solar system. Wouldn't that be amazing? Can you imagine how life on earth would change forever if we were to discover that we're not alone in this universe? Well, actually, the fact is that we're not alone in the universe. There is, in fact, another kind of close encounter that has the potential to change our lives in a much greater way, if only we're willing to initiate contact. You can probably guess where I'm going with this, and what kind of contact I'm talking about. I'm talking about making contact — a life-changing contact — with the One who is the Source of all life.

As we begin this new year, I sense that there are many of us who desire, more than anything, for the year ahead to be different from last year… who want this year to be different than any other year. You might be one of those who want this year to be the year that you make contact with God like you never have before.

I, too, want this to be the year that you make contact with the loving, merciful, allknowing, all-giving, all-forgiving, all-powerful God of the universe. We're not alone on planet earth. There is a God, He is good, and He loves you; He wants you to know Him, He wants you to love Him, and He wants you to walk in fellowship with Him. So it is my prayer that this will be the year that you make contact with Him in a greater, more powerful, more personal, more dynamic way than you ever have before.

A few years ago, a guy by the name of Ed Dobson decided to spend a year living as closely as possible the lifestyle of Jesus.1 He decided to live as Jesus lived, eat as Jesus ate, pray as Jesus prayed. He attended the same Jewish festivals that Jesus would have attended. And he read the Gospels, all four of them, all the way through, every week. In the process, two significant things happened in Ed's life — one, he grew a very long beard and, two, he learned what it really means to be a follower of Jesus.

I'm not suggesting that you follow Ed's example to the extent that he did, but I am suggesting that you begin this year with a commitment to connect — or reconnect — with Jesus in a more personal way than ever before. That's where contact begins — with a personal, intimate, one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. If you want this to be the year that you make contact, get to know Jesus. Make Him the center of your spiritual life and, keep in mind, He's not just a name we tack on to the end of our prayers.

My challenge to you is that, this year, you make it your objective to get to know Jesus — by learning all that you can about His life on earth and by spending time with Him in fellowship every day, including the Sabbath day. Perhaps you can begin that process by reading the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Ed Dobson read all four Gospels every week. Now, that may not be realistic with your schedule, but here's a good plan: read a chapter a day. There are 89 chapters in the four Gospels, so you can get through them four times this year. Of course, the goal is not just to get through them; the goal is to encounter Jesus in the process. So, take your time, but strive for consistency, and every time you find yourself off track, read through the Gospels in order to encounter Jesus in a personal way. He is here. He is available. He is waiting for you. He wants to know you. Initiate contact. Take the first step toward making this an unforgettable year. Reach out to Jesus; He's reaching out to you.

Jesus made it clear that to know Him and His Father means everything. He said; “and this is the way to have eternal life — to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth” (John 17:3, NLT). Ellen White echoes the words of Scripture: “The great need of the soul is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”2 If knowing God the Father and Jesus is our “great need,” what are we waiting for?

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1 Dobson, Edward. The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do; Zondervan Publishing, 2009.

2 White, Ellen G. The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 79.