Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved (Acts 16:30-31).
I should be calmer when I hear the mockery of those who should know better, and yet disdain the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus. But I’m not calm. The idea of whether a person can have such a relationship with Christ is too close to me, too much a part of me. So I get annoyed to hear them say it so often that Jesus’ salvation is a communal experience, not an individual one. The expression, “me and Jesus” – they say – is erroneous theology, unknown to the Church until the post-reformation period.
It could be that those who scorn the idea of “me and Jesus” mean something other than what it sounds like they mean. It could be they mean there is no place in Scripture for ‘me-ism” Christianity – a maverick kind of faith in which the Christian avoids fellowship with the larger community, the kind of Christian who pulls away from others in the body of Christ, who continually changes churches in search of people who “agree” with him or her.
I’ve met people like that. And although Scripture clearly states we should not neglect gathering together for corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), those Christians often think of themselves as spiritually superior to their fellows and use many kinds of excuses to hold themselves aloof from the Body.
Perhaps that is what those who mock the idea of ‘me and Jesus’ Christianity mean when they disparage the relationship I and so many millions of Christians have enjoyed over the millennia.
If that is the case, then I wish they would be more clear.
But if not, their viewpoint irritates me because not only have I had a personal, intimate and maturing relationship with Jesus during the last 38 years, but a personal salvation is clearly illustrated throughout the Scripture; Which is why a such a relationship with Jesus is – and has been – the experience of millions of Christians, not only in the 21st century Church, but throughout Church history, dating to the apostles themselves.
St. Paul wrote to Timothy, It is a trustworthy statement, worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost (emphasis mine). The apostle also wrote, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 121); and, If any one be in Christ he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). St. Luke recorded Jesus’ words about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (Luke 15). St. Matthew records Jesus’ promise that the hairs of our head – yours and mine – are all numbered by the Father (Matthew 10:30).
As I sit here typing, dozens and dozens of Biblical texts are rolling around in my memory, all of which shout the truth that ‘me and Jesus” is a valid Biblical experience – a wonderful experience – rooted in the supernatural relationship that God offers individuals like me and you.
A personal relationship.
What else could king David have meant when he wrote, O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all (Psalm 139:1-4).
A personal relationship.
Why else would the Lord Jesus have left the ninety-nine sheep in the fold of the community and search for the one individual?
For someone like me.
To take me into his arms and bring me to safety.
Yes, perhaps that is what those who snipe at the ‘me and Jesus’ idea really mean . . . that there is no place for ‘me-ism’ Christianity. But if they mean as their accusations seem to insist, then I hope they will take the time to learn from the Holy Spirit the wonderful truth that Jesus wants to be their personal savior as well.
For in learning that truth, their lives will change forever.