Your Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ, Or I’d Rather Read The Latest Zondervan Release

As I’ve noted well on this blog, I was raised very, very Christian. So Christian I’m amazed I still consider myself one. The more I mature the more I am able to see that the church I was raised in didn’t perpetuate all of the legalistic ideas embedded deeply in my brain, but rather these things were perceived by me. Those ideas were interpreted by me.

Nonetheless it’s taken many years to shake out the residue of my toxic understanding of Christianity.

One thing I never received in my childhood faith is an understanding that God wants a relationship with me. As in he wants to know me and wants me to know him. Though I heard the question “do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” I understood that a Christian was more like an obedient solider or servant – very subservient. It profoundly (and sadly) revolutionary to me that God wanted nothing more than to know me*. I didn’t take God coming to earth as a man as a clue.

I think this point is easily not because it’s so deep but precisely because it’s quite simple. This is not a post where I outline where someone else got something wrong – like those Christians – the legalistic ones, the Sunday morning Christians. Rather I think this is something we all need a subtle yet continual reminder of – that the point of Christianity is knowing God. It’s so easy to get caught up in Christian hot spots of the day – homosexuality, salvation, politics, and so on – and forget that it’s about your relationship with Jesus. I find it incredibly easy to read books about being a Christian and debating Christian issues all the while losing sight of simply knowing God personally.

Did you have a similar experience of not realizing the whole point of Christianity is knowing God? Do you also find it easy to overlook that and be neck-deep in Christian issues? Do you have any tips to share with us crappy Christians how to not lose sight of this?

*you could probably pick this apart and find other things God wants, however I think you get what I’m trying to say.

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12 Responses to Your Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ, Or I’d Rather Read The Latest Zondervan Release

  1. David says:

    A great blog because it is about where you are at – I like that. it’s hard to move ahead unless we can have some sort of assessment of where we actually are. (1st step sort of thing)

    I confess it i has been along time since I struggled with things like doubt and do I really know Jesus and that sort of stuff. I wrote a blog this week about what was the key to the Christian life for me.

    http://3forjc.blogspot.com/2011/08/key-to-christian-life.html

    Knowing God is not built on belief; in fact it is not built on faith, but on (in) intimacy with Him. This intimacy is personal, and it is the deep calling deep. Through the doorway of faith, we press into know him more and more. This eternal relationship is expressed in many different passages such as the Psalms of David and more recently, some Christian music – the rest is just religious noise that gets debated, and frankly is pretty boring.

    • thanks David for the compliment. It seems like many of our comments end up saying something to the effect of “the rest is just religious noise” – I’d like to explore why the heck that comes up so much – why the heck it’s so easy to be religious.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Well, Charlie, I am a crappy Christian myself, so I don’t think I have any tips to offer. I missed the point altogether when I was young. I knew that Jesus wanted a relationship with me, but I thought it was a very adversarial relationship (like the ones in my home). Him wanting a “loving” relationship with me was beyond my grasp. I also was able to get caught up in the Christian issues because I was such a follower and I was surrounded by what I call “Christian politicians” who were all about the politics of Church. Now I’m just learning as I go. I get a little help from Zondervan sometimes 😉 but mostly it is me, God, and the people He puts in my path to teach me. Now I’m going to go follow the link to David’s article to see what he has to say. Y’all come on by my blog today if you get a chance. I’m throwing myself on either people’s mercy or their swords this morning. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    • why yes I will see what your up to. Maybe before I go I’ll sharpen my knife just in case 🙂

      one of the things I’m really interested in is how we try to raise children to be Christians – I’ve written about this before but perhaps not very well – but I think its hard to raise kids in the faith when its about a radical encounter with God. Instead we tend to teach a religion because, well, we can’t induce a meeting with God.

  3. Most of Christianity, as I’ve known it all my life, is about what we have to do here on earth to avoid burning in hell forever when we die.

    Seriously. Boil it all down, and that’s what it’s about.

    Without that, a HUGE percentage of “Christians” would never go to an altar. Would never join a church. Would never read a Bible. Would never sing a song. Would never witness. Would never pray.

    And I’m every bit as guilty as the next dude.

    “Please forgive my sins” because I fear death and hell.

    And most of us “feel” forgiven, free, remade, and happy because we are told that we no longer have to fear hell since we believe. Or that if we’ll live a certain way and do certain things, we won’t have to fear hell. We’re told that people do drugs, have sex, beat their kids, steal cars, get tattoos, and get in fights because they are searching for the peace that we have found, in other words, they do those things because they’re trying to figure out how to stay out of hell.

    As I think you can see, there’s clearly some problems with all that.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard an invitation, here in Bible Belt WNC, that didn’t include some reference to “where you’re going to spend eternity”.

    So, not only do most Christians not understand this “relationship” with God thing (and I’m not a huge fan of that language for some other reasons…) but most preachers / evangelists / pastors don’t understand it well enough to properly teach us poor unwise Christians.

    Most of us are either floundering out here trying to figure it out or we’re laboring under the illusion that we do have it all figured out, simply because we limit our exposure to information. But because of the importance of our decision / beliefs / actions relative to an eternity in hell, most of us hedge our bets and try to do what the preacher says.

    What would our “Christianity” be if there was no eternity?

    Note – Christ didn’t say “come have a relationship with me”. He said “follow me”. In modern context, I don’t think “relationship” captures what I’m beginning to see as the possible truth of Christianity.

    • oh man I could so turn this into another post – but I’m with you that preachers sometimes don’t understand “relationship with God thing” well enough to teach us. What they teach us tends to be much tidier and cleaner than what the real relationship is like. Or maybe that’s just how mine is with God – not tidy. Not simple. It’s tumultuous. It’s lop-sided. It’s powerful and sometimes stagnant.

      anyway you wrote a powerful response – I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this in a blog of your own 🙂 Especially the last paragraph about what your beginning to see as the truth of Christianity. But I easily agree that without eternity we lose much of our bargaining power, and that’s sad. Sad because it shows how love isn’t our attracter any longer – it’s not what we’re known for.

      • I realize that line about writing your own blog could sound like I’m being a smart aleck – like hey write your own blog or something– but thats very untrue I was/am being genuine that I’d love to hear more from you, and you sometimes say you’ve got nothing to say. I say not so fast – because I love reading your comments!

      • It’s just usually “more easier” for me to grab somebody else’s thoughts and stream from there than it is to construct my own blog post. Even on a blog named “Mostly Questions”, I feel the need to have some type of “closure” to my posts, and I seem to have trouble doing that. I guess there’s just so much in my head that it’s hard to commit to any of it and post something definitive, because my thoughts might change. Subconsciously, I guess, I think of my blog as needing to be “certainties”, even though it’s supposed to be about questions. Weird. But thanks for your kind words 🙂

  4. Larry Hughes says:

    My early years of religion attending church with my parents and as an adult( if I might call it that) was rigidly legalistic in most respects. It wasn’t until later in life that I was introduced to the out of the box thinking and the Spiritual gifts. ( thanks David J.)
    Ones personal experience with God is exactly that . Quite Personal. One can’t explain it or attempt to or at least I can’t in my case.It is too personal.

    However, I can say when I opened my eyes to what was offered from God personally I certainly was astonished at how far off track I was in my legalistic views. Actually I wasn’t much better than the Pharasees of biblical times ( white whashed tombs and hypocrites). So you see, I am not all together perfect.
    During my recent health crisis ( which was first diagnosed as Cancer) I prayed for not healing but the courage to face this new issue and plenty of my friends also prayed for a cure. Recent test revealed there was no cancer in the Liver as first diagnosed but a bacterial infection that is also serious but not life threatening if treated promptly. The doctors said I was the very few 3% where the diagnosis was favorable.

    I do believe God did spare me the cancer for a purpose but yet allowed me to endure the infection for humility to remind me He is in charge. I also got a meassage from God in a prayer that He does have plans for me to serve Him in a role that He feels I would be best suited.

    I don’t think relationships with God can be taught. It has to come directly from Him through your earnest prayers and faith that He lives in your lives more so than you care to envision or comprehend. I think in Romans Paul lays out the grace that God has for all of us that care to believe in Him. It is not something you can earn. It is freely given if you earnestly seek Him.

    Sorry Charlie for the rant but I felt I had to get this out as it burned in my heart.

    • no apologies necessary ever. I write to hopefully stir something, so I love it not only when anyone comments, but really has to offer something. Is the David J. you reference the David who commented earlier on this post?

      I agree our experiences with God are intensely personal – which makes it all the more interesting why we doubt and judge one another so much.

      Please keep us posted as to how your health is. I’m so relieved it’s not cancer, though obviously an infection isn’t much fun. I appreciated hearing your perspective on it all – I know it’s not an easy one to swallow.

  5. theoldadam says:

    I wasn’t raised Christian. But my folks took me to the font where God adopted me and gave His promises to me.

    Then one day I heard the gospel and my baptism was completed.

    Then I learned that no matter how faithless and disobedient I am, no matter how much I neglect the relationship, the Lord will always hold me in His grip.

    What a relief that none of this depends on me.

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