Friday, December 24, 2010

Personal Relationship?

Christian authors and speakers often talk about having a “personal relationship” with God, an “intimate”, “close” connection. We sing “In the Garden” how Jesus “walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” Here’s my problem with that…

Let’s say a woman agrees to marry you, even though you’ve never met face-to-face, and you set her up in a house, insure that her basic needs are met, but don’t live with her. She never sees you. She can contact you by phone, but you won’t answer or speak; you’ll only listen. You’ve left instructions for her, written out…everything she needs to know is there, and you even write that you love her.

Is this a personal relationship? Yet doesn’t this describe our relationship with God? Some people of faith see a “relationship with God” as their new identity as God’s children, in terms of status based on faith. I choose to follow, serve, worship, and obey God, I’ve trusted the atoning sacrifice of Christ, I even pray, but this concept of a “personal relationship” eludes me. God seems distant, though Scripture assures me that He is near. That seems enough most of the time.

I think when people talk about having “personal relationship” with God we might want to challenge them to define what they mean by this. I suspect most are stating how those who trust God are in a new position. Being justified by faith, we are declared righteous, declared as God’s children, grafted onto the vine, etc. Previously dead in sin, we were God’s enemies. We now have a new status, a new standing. When we pray, God hears us, even though we don’t hear Him. When we read the Scriptures, we discover God’s will. When we hurt, God provides strength. When we grieve, He is our comfort. We might like more, but blessed are those who believe without hearing.

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