If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Me and Jesus -- A Personal Relationship

Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you . . . will be saved (Acts 16:30-31).

I should be calmer when I hear the disdain of those who, by their education and training, should know better. Yet despite such education they ridicule the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus. 

I should be calm, but I am not. The idea of experiencing a vibrant relationship with Christ is too much a part of me to let such wrongheaded challenges go unanswered. I get annoyed to hear them say Jesus’ salvation is not an individual experience, but rather a communal experience. "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 find no place in Scripture for ‘me-ism” Christianity. 

And such an assertion would be correct. There is no place in Scripture for a maverick faith, no Biblical reason for a Christian to avoid fellowship with the larger community (e.g. Psalm 95:6; Psalm 133; Hebrews 10:25). Nevertheless, there have always been (and probably always will be) Christians who offer many excuses to hold themselves aloof from the Body.
I’ve met people like that. Who hasn't? But as St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:3-4).

So, perhaps that is what those who mock the idea of ‘me and Jesus’ mean when they disparage the relationship I and so many millions of Christians have enjoyed over the millennia.
But if that is not what they mean, their viewpoint irritates me because not only have I had a personal, intimate and maturing relationship with Jesus during the last 43 years, but a personal salvation is clearly illustrated throughout the Scripture – and has been the experience of millions of Christians 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 -- and perhaps also in yours --- all of which shout the truth that ‘me and Jesus” is a God-ordained and God-desired Biblical 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.'

And you.

As I said, perhaps those who snipe at the ‘me and Jesus’ idea really take issue with the unsupportable position of maverick Christianity. But if they believe -- as their accusations seem to imply -- that there is no Biblical justification for "me and Jesus', then I hope they will reconsider the whole of Scripture, and not just texts taken out of context. 

"Me and Jesus" is a Bible-based reality that can change our lives forever.


Barb Schoeneberger said...

Indeed, the greatest spiritual giants of the Church have always recommended meditating on the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord so that we might know what He has done for us both personally and for the world. He himself told us to "ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." For heaven's sake, to whom, other than God Himself in the Person of Christ are we to ask, seek, and knock, since He told us "The Father and I are One." I can understand that we should not invent a Jesus for ourselves not of the Gospel, a fantasy Christ. But I don't think this is the issue for the critics. Let no one propose to separate me from my Lord.

Rich Maffeo said...

You wrote: But I don't think this is the issue for the critics. Let no one propose to separate me from my Lord.

To which I say a hearty amen.