Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Personal

I don't remember how young I was the first time someone in a Christian setting asked me if I had a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." I do still remember how odd that sounded to my ears. A personal relationship with a "spirit" just seems like something not worth pursuing. Church was all about praising God, reading the Bible and talking with other believers about your faith. Christianity was a corporate exercise, designed to help Christ-followers see Jesus the same way and believe the same things.  "Personal" seemed both unrealistic and a bit dangerous.

Over the years I have heard that phrase used thousands of time and have come to realize that quite often all that is meant by those asking the question is this- "Do you believe in Jesus?" It's a legitimate and important question, and one that most people have to deal with at some point in their lives. But today, I want to share a few thoughts about the literal question- "Do you have a personal relationship with God?"

There's a difference between knowing the 23rd Psalm and knowing the shepherd; there's a difference between singing Jesus Loves Me and knowing that Jesus LOVES ME; and when Jesus said "for God so love the world" what he was really saying is that God so loves YOU & ME- individually- that he sent His only Son to save us.  The love of God is not some giant net that just happens to catch us, it is intentional. The scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, are about God wanting a relationship with each of us. Our worship was meant to be corporate. Our relationship with Jesus is meant to be personal. It is meant to be unique.

My relationship with my father was creative, deep and completely our own. My relationships with my best friends are most likely very different from your relationships with the closest people in your lives. That's how relationships are- they are unique.  So it stands to reason that if your relationship with the Savior is exactly like mine, something is wrong. The basics will be the same, but the nuances of how we spend time together and what that feels like may be very different. 

I have some friends who can only find God in a formal setting. They need the structure of church or Bible study, and God speaks to them through tradition, ritual and study.  I have another friend who gathers with God daily in a gentle, loving relationship. She is quiet in His presence, and they chat. They have nicknames for one another, and she hears God speak with a Scottish brogue. I have helped students find their personal space with Jesus by leading them on guided meditations where he joins them as they walk or sit in familiar places in their minds. I myself often sit with him in a quiet space and unburden my soul while listening to hear that "still small voice." The question is not HOW you connect with the Holy Spirit that indwells us all; the question is DO YOU?

I follow Christian singer and author Bryan Duncan on Twitter, and he will occasionally post thoughts that begin with "Spoke to God today..."  Bryan doesn't hear God speak in booming, powerful Monty Python-like voice- God speaks to him as a playful, caring friend who loves Bryan and wants the best for him. Examples? "Spoke to God today - He said, I sent you a friend request." Spoke to God today- He said for the love of ME, call your mother!" God does not speak to me that way; God does not have a nickname for me or speak with a Scottish accent when we talk.  But you see...we do talk. I believe that when God's people make time to spend alone with Him in whatever way that feels right to each of us, God honors that.  And God speaks to our hearts and our minds if we only take time to listen. There is no right or wrong way to approach time with Jesus. It's personal.

So today I'm the one asking the question. Do YOU have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know that you know that you know that God calls you by name and loves YOU for who you are?  Make time to be with your Savior and speak plainly to him about your life, your dreams and your desires.  And then LISTEN. The old hymn is true- What A Friend We Have In Jesus! Believe it!

Because of Jesus,

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for your inspiration my dear sister...

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