When Your “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Isn’t Very Personal

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21 Responses

  1. Paige says:

    Yes Michael. I am currently having a similar conversation with two long time believers. I am certain many are experiencing similar contemplation and questions. The modern model of church is much like the television programs those churches resemble. There is an element of Truth, but a whole lot of production and show biz.

    My daughter is writing a book on the subject of surviving church culture, yet continuing to walk in Faith in the face of suffering and loss.

    The crevasse between church culture and real life perseverance of Faith is expanding. The fight of Faith may very well be that of sorting the difference.

  2. Captain Kevin says:

    One of your best posts, Michael!! Could be part of a series on stupid things evangelicals say (and do!).

  3. Captain Kevin says:

    Paige, I’d be interested in reading your daughter’s book once it is finished.

  4. bob1 says:

    Great post Michael.

    This mediated encounters thing — is there any connection to Luther’s view, that God hides himself? Or are these two different things?

  5. Michael says:

    Thanks for the kind words.
    Bob1, I’ll let the Lutherans answer that one, but I think it’s similar.

  6. Neil Combe says:

    Excellent post, MIchael

  7. Michael says:

    Great to see you! Thank you!

  8. Em says:

    If God isn’t “personal,” has one really encountered and accepted God’s redemption? That said, as soon as you throw in the word “relationship” you have a whole different dynamic… IMHO

    There are those who think the Bible isn’t to be trusted… well, maybe one’s naive reading isn’t to be trusted, but everything in the Book does jibe as one grows in their understanding – any errors so-called are of no importance… my “personal relationship” with Christ is very Bible dependent… i don’t see angels standing at the foot of my bed saying, “God wants to speak to you” 🙂 if that happened, i’d figure i was dead… LOL

  9. bob1 says:

    I don’t think Michael is saying we can’t have a personal relationship with Christ. I think he’s talking about mediated experiences of God vs. “direct” ones. If you don’t have these categories you tend to treat day-to-day life in a really secular manner. With the idea of mediated experiences with God, you can see His working and grace anew. At
    least that’s how it’s worked for me.

    And like Michael said, God usually doesn’t show up directly. It has nothing to do with how devoted we are. That’s missing the point.

    But those who believe that that is His only way of communicating wind up with a really subjective, gooey faith. It seems to me that there’s a spiritual one-upsmanship that often results, as in “who’s closer to God?” That’s missing the point, IMHO.

  10. Em says:

    Good points, bob1. IMO, of course. 🙆

  11. Steve says:

    Great post Michael. Maybe the relationship is actually more one way relationship. God knows us intimately. The problem is we don’t know Him all that well. Kind of a mystery we take on faith that he gives us.

  12. Randy Davis says:

    I’m not sure that I could survive a direct encounter, not as long as I’m my current fallen state. I have had a couple of mysterious moments. The last one one gave me a sense that church was going to be ok, about three months before I was kicked out because I’m too old and too disabled. So, even if I had a lot of close encounters, I’m not sure I know how to understand it.

    I think we are called to live by faith. So that’s what I try to do. And I vacillate between a sense of wellness and despair. I probably more familiar with despair. I think that even the Apostle Paul had moments of despair. But faith, as weak as it is, is still there.

  13. Michael says:

    Well said, Randy…

  14. Cash says:

    LOVE this! I’ve had certain things happen in my life where I was left awestruck with something that happened where you’re just like, “that HAD to be God”. Not always big things, but sometimes even little things that happen that make you laugh or bring you even a small joy (like the first cup of coffee in the morning.) I even have a phrase for it, “it’s a God thing.” I’ve had a few very personal times in my life where something happened or someone did something that was so clearly Him showing his love toward me that it literally felt like a hug from God. He’s so kind! And He’s everywhere in every little thing that brings us peace or joy or especially love.I think we miss a lot of encounters with God because we’re simply not paying attention. I want so much to be like Him that way. Kind and giving freely to others. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. I’m not a people person. I don’t like to talk to people much. At least not in person. I do most of my communicating with others online. But I’m trying to learn to slow down, to see Him in the smallest things. This post was a God thing for me. Thank you for that, dear brother.

  15. UnCCed says:

    This reminds me of when Jesus asked the Father, “WHY have you forsaken me?!!!” (sweating intensely).
    I know the platitude “Oh, well Jesus was giving us a bible study…”
    I’m always suspicious of interpretations which if you only had the bible, you could NEVER arrive at.
    Anyway, Jesus, as in ALL ways, demonstrated the life acceptable to the Father and while I’ve never (yet) felt forsaken (the church keeps fighting Satan for that honor), it’s comforting (often) to meditate on Jesus asked “Why?” and yet He “always does those things pleasing…” to the Father.
    If (ha!) my thoughts aren’t worthy and Jesus was pretending (their words not mine), well then just gander at the 12 and look at their conduct.

  16. Michael says:

    Cash…thank you for all of that, my friend…

  17. Michael says:


    Well said…

  18. Em says:

    Cash, great words! ! ! At this end of my life, thinking back, i can say “amen” and ask God’s forgiveness for not noticing at the time

  19. Owen says:

    Michael, I think you just spoke to and affirmed many of us, and I think it may be His voice.

  20. Michael says:

    Thank you, Owen!

  21. Jim says:

    Great article!

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