Is it wise to speak about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
It happened to me again just today. An atheist on a message board spoke of me and a friend as saying that we think we know everything because we have a “personal relationship” with God. Had this person bothered to find out what my view is, they would have found out I espouse nothing like that. In fact, I have had many problems with the idea of a personal relationship, and if any one needs to know that’s not a recent innovation, just ask my wife.
Now in a sense, of course we all have some sort of relationship with Jesus, but what kind is it? My contention with the personal relationship talk is that it really lowers God in a sense of making Him not the sovereign king of the universe, but really a friend who is mainly there to help us out in our hard times. What happens when help does not come in those hard times? Well a lot of people feel betrayed. Some friend they had! There are several atheists today who apostasized from the faith starting out this way.
The Christian message really is found in passages like Romans 5:1 where we find that we have peace with God. That means the wrath of God no longer abides on us. It means that we are forgiven. It does not say that you have a two-way dialogue going on between God and yourself. I am constantly amazed that we have so many seminars at churches on how to hear the voice of God when the Bible nowhere gives instructions on how to do such a thing. Besides that, we do have a way to hear the voice of God. It’s Scripture. The difference is that one requires work to study and interpret and for too many people, it’s easier to just look for a shortcut.
This also feeds into our own self-serving “It’s all about me”, mentality. We have a local car dealership in Knoxville where the ads at the end tell the person to come down where “It’s all about you.” I cringe every time. If anything, the problem we have in our society is that too many of us do think that it’s all about us. When we start thinking God is telling us ideas, then that’s going to make that even more so.
Now please be clear on this. I am not in any of this saying God cannot speak today. Not at all. I know people who have had such experiences that I think were legitimate experiences. I am saying such experiences should not be seen as normative. They should not be things that we are expecting and they should not be experiences that we think that God is obligated to give to us since He is our friend after all.
When we approach God, we should be aware of His love for us and that he cares for us. Yet at the same time, we should approach Him realizing that He is the king of the universe and we dare not have the pride to approach Him just like anyone else. We are to come to Him on His terms. He is not obligated to come to us on our terms.
It is for reasons like this that I really encourage Christians to not use this kind of language. It is not spoken of in Scripture and I am convinced the concept is not even there. God is our king and Lord and we need to make sure our language always affirms that.