Something happened yesterday that got me really wound up. Those of you who know me are thinking “so what else is new?” The question was, as I understood it, where in Scripture does it say our relationship with Christ is personal or that we really have a relationship. I keep hoping I heard that out of context. Praying I heard that out of context.
I believe that John 3:16 is personal. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” – the world includes me. When I made my profession of faith, my pastor told me to personalize this verse. It made perfect sense when I did. I know Jesus Christ lives in me, and I pray that others perceive that in me.
I believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three in one. Can I always explain it? No. Can I accept it? Yes. Do I do that blindly? No. Scripture supports what I believe, what I am called to share.
I believe that if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you have a personal relationship with Him. Does that mean you are perfect? Unfortunately not. Does that mean you have visions where you see Jesus or hear direct spoken words from Him – in my case, that is not true though that has occurred and is documented throughout the scriptures (see, for example, Moses at the burning bush, Elijah as he ran away because he was tired, David after he had sinned and lost so much in his disobedience, Abraham who by faith put Issac on that altar because God told him to do that and who by faith, according to Hebrew 11:8 “when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”) There are plenty more examples.
So, since I have not laid my near-sighted (in many senses) human eyes on Jesus or heard His literal voice in my human ears, can I not know Him personally? I do know Him personally! He is with me in good times and not so good times. He has comforted me in everything from cancer to death of those I love. He has given me peace that can only come from Him and frankly stopped me dead in my tracks from saying or doing things that would get me into all sorts of trouble at work and within my circle of influence. He kept me from harm on the highway (I can tell you when and where). He has a plan for me and shows me it as we move together day by day. He is patient with my impatience yet He gets me to move. He calms me (Psalms 34:4) “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” He is, according to Proverbs 18:24 that “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” He is without question, that Friend, who gave up His life for me. What He asks of me and how He explains it is this (John 15: 12-13): My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I also believe you cannot pick apart the Gospel, taking some of it because it fits you and ignoring the rest. As my friend Lavon Gray often shares: “The Cradle lies in the shadow of the Cross.” I will take that a step further. The Cross is the bridge between the Cradle (physical birth) and the Empty Tomb (eternal life). When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I accepted that Jesus death on that awful Cross bridged that very gap for me.
We get so hung up on semantics. Jesus obviously had traditional personal relationships with the twelve disciples and others – Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, to name a few. Even when Peter denied him, Jesus acknowledged Peter and called his name even after Peter had so openly denied Him that night in the garden of the High Priest. Would we be so forgiving or anxious to move our relationships with each other forward if a friend behaved that way with us? Doubtful. His relationships with the disciples were multifaceted. He did not do all the giving (though He could have). He expects our relationship with Him to be that way, too.
I believe. God is with us! How can that be if the relationship is not personal? That’s a question you need to answer.