HOW CAN WE HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS? We’ve never met him.
I’m talking eyeball to eyeball. Fist bump to fist bump.
We haven’t met Jesus that way.
I grew up with Christians asking people the spiritual barometer question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”
People still ask me that.
Usually it comes from folks who say they don’t like me writing books that give both sides of an argument. They say I should give readers just “the right side.” Preacher style.
But I am so not a preacher.
I’m a writer. A former newspaper reporter who now covers the Bible beat.
I think about words. I’m wondering if “personal relationship” is really the best phrase to describe our connection to Jesus.
Christians understand what we’re talking about. But I’m not sure folks outside the faith do.
To many of them, our friendship with Jesus seems no different than the friendship some socially challenged kid has with an imaginary playmate. When we pray, the outsiders would say, we’re talking to ourselves.
I’m wondering how best to describe our link to Jesus.
It’s not a personal relationship that’s anything like relationships we have with persons.
It’s not person personal.
It’s spirit personal.
We have a spiritual relationship with Jesus.
That “spiritual” thing is tough to explain, I admit. But let me try.
I had to do a taping last week for a video I’m working on. The best advice of video pros is to doggone well wear makeup. Embarrassingly, my wife bought me some makeup for Christmas…and danged if she didn’t give it to me in front of the kids and their spouses.
Just before the videotaping, I stood in front of the mirror. With or without makeup, I don’t look familiar to me anymore.
The older I get, the better I understand the difference between physical and spiritual. I’ve got this body. But inside me – somewhere and somehow there’s something more. Something alive. Something separate from the body and yet part of the body, if only temporarily.
That “something more” is me, I believe. My soul, some would say.
So to all those people who, throughout my life have said, “Steve Miller, you’re something else,” you were absolutely right.
It feels as though there’s an invisible dimension in play. And the real me is invisible, with no need of makeup. Thank you Jesus.
It’s that spirit Steve that has a connection to spirit Jesus.
I sense him near sometimes. I don’t sense him at all, other times; yet I trust he’s got my back – the invisible one as well as the physical one.
I hear him sometimes. Not so much in words as in ideas.
Like the idea of snow blowing the driveway of my new neighbor a couple of weeks ago; they are a young couple in their first home.
The wife, who just had a baby, baked me some cookies in response. The husband delivered the cookies and said he was relieved I cleared the snow because he hadn’t bought a snow shovel yet.
That’s how the connection usually works. Ideas come from somewhere outside of me by someone besides me. Most ideas seem small. Others are big and scary and not something I want to do.
But when I get the sense that my spirit friend is asking, I’m thinking I should be doing.
If this spiritual relationship is imaginary, all I can say is I have a remarkable imagination, which has a mind of its own.
A wonderful explanation of the work and teaching of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would be with us. I hear those same voices, and, similar to Pascal’s Wager, I would rather have such an imagination (faith). I trust God to help me understand the truth, as it applies to me, regardless of some doctrines that don’t seem to make sense. I will take my “relationship” with Jesus any day and will attempt to continue to learn. I’m relatively new to your writings (just finished reading “100 Tough Questions …”) and thoroughly enjoy them.
Stephen M. Miller
Thanks, Steve. If you survived 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible you can survive anything I would ever write. You can read some reviews on Amazon of readers who didn’t survive that book. Some didn’t seem to appreciate reading about both sides of a tough topic. They prefer only the correct side, which is their side. Yet I’m convinced there’s a need for books about God and the Bible that simply report the facts rather than try to preach one interpretation over another.
It’s been a rough week with elderly parents. Mine and His. So, I kept this running dialogue with God throughout the different crisis we were dealing with. There were several moments where I was sure I was being encouraged to do the right but very tough thing. I, too, had trouble understanding that personal relationship thing. But since I have left a very legalistic religion and found the truth of the bible, your explanation makes sense to me. It is a spiritual relationship that gets more intense the longer I cultivate it. A Better thought is it’s really God cultivating that relationship with me.
Stephen M. Miller
Linda, I hope you guys have a better week ahead. I know a bit about what it means to do what you think is the right thing when it’s also the toughest thing. My prayers are with you.
This is a wonderful explanation of a concept that is difficult for many to grasp. I am uncomfortable with the term ‘person relationship with Jesus’ and don’t use it, it’s good to know that I am not alone.
Stephen M. Miller
Ditto about the “alone” thing.