“The Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but is above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” As I’ve said often when giving presentations on discipleship, this quote doesn’t come from Billy Graham, but from Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, the brilliant German theologian not given to flights of rhetorical fancy.
While this sort of language is foreign to many Catholics, as this quote illustrates, it’s not foreign to our popes; similar statements from Benedict and both his predecessor and successor could be multiplied. One more from Benedict will suffice for this post:
“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (God is Love, 1).
As this Easter Season draws to a close, may we grow closer to the Risen One who lives in our midst: Jesus of Nazareth, alive and present in the midst of the community of His disciples. May He open our eyes that we might see Him and embrace Him.
7 thoughts on “Yes, a Personal Relationship”
The last few posts have really been excellent.
Sherry Weddell just wrote a book explaining the 2 different parishes. The Active Parish is where lots of people do lots of things and make the parish pretty nice. The Missionary Parish is where the people have a personal relationship with Jesus and then take that out to other people to evangelize them.
It hit me that unless a person has a personal relationship with Jesus then they have no sense of the sins in their lives and thus become open to a more collaborative attitude with the things of this world and how the world goes about undermining the morals of our country and thus our world. When we don’t think we need Jesus then we do as we like, right or wrong.
Thanks for the comment Jeanne… I’m glad you’ve found some of the posts to be worthwhile… thanks!
To your point: in my personal experience and that of many others, it’s possible for our religion to be a hobby: we can be very involved and active, but without having a personal relationship with Christ at the heart of it. The challenge is to show the difference… any thoughts on how?
Well, I thought about this all day and decided that when a person sees their sins then they also see the poor condition of the world. It can be very disheartening and heavy.
As we continue with our relationship with Jesus then we find that it is hard to go against the world’s values in order to do the right thing as given to us by Jesus and clarified and defended by the Church. People do not want to fight the world because it is a hard battle. They give up. So with a personal relationship with Jesus, he can give us the strength to battle if we but ask.
For myself, once I know what is necessary in my actions and have a purpose and goal then I set my jaw and go ahead. However, when I go ahead, I find that people are against what I say I profess or do. So I may have to take a lone stand in my actions such as saying yes or no to my minor children’s rub with the culture. But, again, I have Jesus and the Saints and Mary to back me up. I find other people who believe as I do and then I utilize the Sacraments to give me strength and direction and guidance. It isn’t very easy to fight the world’s way of thinking.
I find it very interesting that people may not in general engage me in activities or discussions but you can bet that if they want to know anything about what’s going on in the Catholic world or the Parish then they know to give me a call to answer their question. I haven’t done anything to tell everyone that I know “stuff”. And yet after that they still go their former ways.
Pondering- if the nature of the relationship is I sometimes tick Jesus off, I sometimes avoid his calls, and sometimes we just look at the stars together, is this a good thing because it is real? Or just better than nothing?
By the way, I have asked a lot of people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus to tell me about this relationship. What I mostly hear seems mostly plastic and phony to me.
Yeah, there’s in important distinction between merely having a relationship and having a good one. I think Jeanne’s point below is relevant… many of us have a hard time explaining why or how it’s a good relationship because we don’t really know what that means in human to human relationships! So it can become a buzzword or badge.
I think people don’t know what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I think one problem is that we don’t know how to have a personal relationship with any of the people around us. It is foreign to people and I believe it has to be learned. Either from your parents, or other people you know. We can mentor with someone who has gone before us to show us the way when it isn’t really natural to us. I think it is an ongoing learning experience going deeper and deeper as time goes on. It can also be hard to explain and when Chris asked the question of giving him some examples, I was hard-put answering that question.
I agree with your perspective or whatever that is that you said. 🙂
Relationship is by definition a form of connection that is intimate with a full gamut of interaction and with little boundaries that prevent intimacy. When we don’t have real relationship with those among us, I just wonder how intimate we are with our Savior.