“Come on! Stop trying to hit me, and hit me!”
Sometimes in the language of Christianity we are told that we need “a relationship with Jesus.” I find the phrase well-meaning but a little loose. What exactly are we talking about here?
I have a marital relationship with my wife, a fraternal relationship with my brother, and a predator-prey (facilitated by McDonalds) relationship with my grilled chicken sandwich.
When we first approach someone with this law, to have a relationship with God, we then have to spend time working with that person’s idea of what a relationship is. This can have its own foibles. What if a person has had bad relationships?
My relationship with Jesus? He’s my Lord and Savior; I am baptized into Christ. But does that drive home the point when I tell that to someone else? Talking about one’s relationship with Jesus makes the issue about that person.
In Luke 24:45-49, Jesus tells the disciples what to preach:
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Thus we better serve future disciples by telling them straight away what our problem is and God’s answer to that problem. Our truth is objective, historically accurate and independent of whether our hearts are ablaze. Christ died for us whether or not we have had bad relationships. We are striving for more than happiness found in a relationship. We are thankful that we are saved from eternal damnation by a merciful and holy God.