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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Relating To God

I'm not sure when it began really. I had attended church for all of my growing-up years. Then I took a hiatus from church attendance for several years. After we became parents we decided we needed to go back to church. But it seemed church had changed. We kept hearing about having a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. It was no longer enough to "get saved" (i.e., believing on Him). Now it was this "personal relationship" that seemed to matter most.

If you're anything like me, you find that notion a bit challenging. Having a personal relationship with the deity really stretches me in some ways I'm not sure I'm really capable of much stretching. I mean I can't see Him. We don't physically touch. There are lots of things I do that I don't think He shares with me. Can you really have a personal relationship with the god of the universe? I mean, after all, He is God. And I am most certainly not. I don't think that's a minor detail.

I think the concept of a personal relationship conjures up the image of friendship for most of us. And I tend to think of my friends as my contemporaries, my peers. I view myself as nearly equal to those friends with whom I have a personal relationship. Even on my best day, there is no way I could be nearly equal to God.

The thing is, as I grow in spiritual maturity, I have been a voracious reader of my Bible. Really, I spend a considerable amount of time each day reading my Bible. I remember that, in the early days of my adult endeavor with Christianity, I used to try and just read one chapter a day. Lately I notice that I tend to read many chapters each day. So I read my Bible and pray. I listen and He speaks to me. (He really does!) I hear the voice of God. It is unmistakable. It is quite sobering when God speaks.

So now I'm walking and talking with God. I'm more in love with Him than I ever imagined I could be. I'm more grateful than I have ever been - or ever thought about being. I've prayed for things like a grateful and forgiving heart. And He's answered those prayers. I've turned my problems over to Him. And God has walked me through those problems. Frankly, I wonder how people without God can even function. I cannot imagine life without Him. I wouldn't want to.

But the question of this "personal relationship" still nags at me. Somehow when the preachers preach it, I feel as if they are talking to someone else. Maybe I'm just not capable of what they're describing. As close to God as I feel, as confident I am in His awesome power, sovereignty and immense love for me ... I would be reluctant to say that I "have a personal relationship" with Jesus Christ.

To be honest, it seems like it would demean who He is to consider myself to be in a personal relationship with Jesus. I think I might rather leave Him up on the throne --- and me kneeling on the floor at His feet. Yes, that's exactly where I want to be in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't yearn to climb up on that throne with Him. I don't want to sit in His lap. Quite simply, just being in His presence is quite enough for me. Personal relationship? Friendship? I don't think so.

Are the modern day preachers just making this up? This notion of a "personal relationship" with Jesus ... is it real? Is it as they describe? Is it Biblical? I haven't ever found specific Scripture that suggests I should be in a personal relationship with God. As a matter of fact, I found an enormous amount of Scripture that indicates I should hold Him in the highest regard that I'm humanly capable of. Is that friendship? I don't think so. At least not for me.

If you're in a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ, I'm genuinely glad for you. Enjoy it. Relish it. Bask in it. But at the end of the day, I suspect more of us have trouble embracing that concept for ourselves. We'll be kneeling on the floor, waving palm fronds and singing praises to the Most High God.

Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty. That's Him and me. And we're good. Praise God!

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