Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm Sorry You Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” It’s a question we might ask a person we’re trying to share the gospel with, but would you believe there is a bad connotation to the concept of “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”

In some evangelical circles, the personal relationship with Jesus Christ is viewed as the highest form of the Christian life. In other words, a person has a personal relationship with Jesus and they need nothing else. Jesus talks directly to them, so nothing could be better, right? Wrong. The problem is that most elevated relationship in the Bible is that of Jesus and the church, not Jesus and the individual. I’m sure that at this point, some of you are thinking I’m grasping at straws. After all, isn’t it true that all saved people are part of the church automatically and so the only thing we need to strive for is the personal relationship? No, that isn’t true. Aside from a few passages that could be taken either way, all of the references to the church in the Bible refer to a local, visible, body of baptized believers who assemble together for worship. These local assemblies have membership, they transfer membership from one to another by means of letters recommending people into the fellowship of the other church, and they work together as a unit. One Christian off by himself lacks the skill needed to carry out the Lord’s work because the Lord intended for him to partner with his church to do the work of the ministry.

So, while it may seem spiritual to say that you have a personal relationship with Jesus and that’s all you need, the Bible says otherwise. Through fellowship with other believers, we build each other up. We use our talents to fill in areas of weakness that others have and they use their talents to fill in our areas of weakness. While it is true that Jesus could use individuals working alone to accomplish his work, that’s not what he chose to do. Jesus established his church, so that we would have a support group, leadership, and fellow laborers engaged in preaching the gospel to a lost world.