A personal relationship with Jesus
Ok, so I haven’t blogged much lately but I have had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head and I thought I would take this opportunity to get one of them down in writing. Please bear with me though because the following thoughts may come across as strange (or maybe even blasphemous) to some… believe me I’m not trying to be I’m just curious and a little frustrated and honestly wondering… Bare with me because I’m really just venting a little.
So, here’s my question… Where and when did the whole “personal relationship with Jesus” start? At what point did having a “personal relationship with Jesus” become the mark of a true believer and disciple of Jesus?? If you are like me you probably grew up hearing that you needed to have a “personal relationship with Jesus” and that it was the most important thing you would ever do with your life and so on and so such. Ok, so where did that come from? Don’t try to tell me that it comes from scripture because I’m pretty sure there is nothing in scripture about having a personal relationship with Jesus. In fact it seems to me that if you look at the Gospels Jesus didn’t have a personal relationship with all that many people – I’d say 12 (maybe a few more if you want to count his relationships with Mary and Martha and Lazarus and a few others as being also personal relationships). But, there were thousands who followed him and who listened to him and probably at least a few hundred who believed what he was saying and believed him to be the Messiah and put their faith in him but who probably never had a conversation with him. What about them? Where they not true disciples? Was their faith not real or sincere or authentic just because they didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus? Ok, but during that time Jesus was in human form and couldn’t physically have a personal relationship with everyone but now we have the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit we can each have a personal relationship with Jesus so we should…right? Well, even that seems a little off to me. Is there anything in the New Testament letters about having a personal relationship with Jesus? Not that I can see. And what about those times in Acts when Paul says to people, believe and be baptized you AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY and you will be saved. And the whole household was baptized and according to Acts the whole household was saved. I’m sorry but I have a hard time believing that each and every member of the household had a personal relationship with Jesus (or what we would describe as a personal relationship with Jesus) – I can believe that they all believed Paul’s message and responded with baptism and tried to then live their lives in the community of faith and following God as best they could, but a personal relationship… hum, I’m just not seeing it. Then think about the hundreds of years when people didn’t have Bible’s written in their own language, when they couldn’t read their Bible on their own every day – what about the people who sincerely believed in God and honestly tried to follow Him by doing what the church told them to do – we definitely can’t say that they had a personal relationship with Jesus but were they just lost? I’m sorry I can’t bring myself to believe that. It used to be that the mark of a true disciple was the courage to stand by their beliefs even in the face of martyrdom. Then when the persecutions died down we got things like the green martyrdom of Ireland being the mark of a true disciple. So, when did the mark of a disciple become having a personal relationship with Jesus? And what exactly does that even mean anyway. I’m sorry but when I look at the New Testament and when I look at church history I have a hard time finding much to back the whole personal relationship with Jesus thing – I instead find a lot about having a communal relationship with God – believing in God choosing to follow him and make him Lord and then entering a community of others where you TOGEHER relate to God. Maybe I’m wrong though, so I am curious to know where the whole personal relationship with Jesus thing started and if I’m just way off. If anyone knows please I’d love to hear your opinions on this.
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth