I keep hearing Protestants say that we must “accept Jesus into our hearts as our personal Lord and Savior.” I also hear them ask whether we have a “personal relationship with Jesus.” Does Scripture ever use these specific terms?
Whats the problem with this, really?! Didnt Jesus get personal with Peter at the end of the Gospel of John? When Jesus was talking to Peter, Peter asked Jesus what about John, “What about him?” Jesus basically replied what is it to Peter if he has John stay alive until he returns. Sounds like a similar, but different personal relationship Jesus had with these two.
I’ve always wondered what, exactly, that meant: “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?”
Seriously, I’m stupefied as to how I should answer that one…“yes” means that I don’t particularly care or believe if Jesus saves anyone else, and “no” means that I don’t particularly care if Jesus saves me. It always seemed to me that the question was formulated for either answer to be either “right” or “wrong”.
In everything we do as humans relates to us personally. Right? Everything you believe relates to you somehow. Even those things like believing that we should clothe and feed the hungry we believe it because Jesus commanded that WE do it.
A personal relationship with Jesus/God means that we grow personally in Him. WE emulate Him within our own persons. We are told in the bible that we should be like Christ. How can we be like Him if we don’t KNOW Him?
When we find someone of whom we admire, love, and respect we try to find out as much as we can about them. Talk to them everyday and try to find out what makes them ‘tick’.
So if we want to be like Christ we develope a relationship with our savior. I mean come on! If He saved me why wouldn’t I want to know the Man/God who saved my life?
What irritates me about the phrase is the implicit assumption that if you have a public or corporate relationship with Jesus through the Church, that somehow, your personal relationship with Him is inferior, and that in order to “prove” that you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have to quit going to Church or having anything to do with public prayer, etc.
(Because churchgoers and people who go to prayer group are hypocrites, doncha know. :rolleyes: )
By ‘they’ I assume you mean protestants? Hmmmm… It’s kind of like the whole Faith/Works debate. Your personal relationship with God/Christ will bear the ‘fruit’ of that relationship, right? If you don’t have one then the fruit will either be tainted or not there at all. But a close relationship bears fruit so delicious and pure that it cannot be denied. Christ is the most important part of the puzzle so how could our relationship with Him not also be the most important part?
As a convert to Catholicism from the Evangelical community, I just want to clarify your misunderstanding of these phrases.
To say that you have a personal relationship with Christ, does not negate your corporate relationship, it actually means you have taken it a step further and have gotten very serious about knowing Christ, emmulating Him and allowing Him to do His will in your life. It’s like the difference between knowing about someone and being loyal and faithful to him, and getting to know that same someone intimately, personally.
And of course, this all happens through the reading of Scripture, through prayer, and is all accomplished through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The one advantage that the Catholic has is the addition of the Sacraments in this process. It’s just very unfortunate that many Catholics do not take advantage of the Grace that is available to them to come to a more committed, intimate relationship with Christ through all the above means.
I don’t think that any Catholic who is serious about his faith should be in anyway threatened by the question of personal relationship, because the answer would certainly be “YES!”.
My relationship with Christ is more than just personal, though. He is not only my best friend (although He is that, too) - He is also my Master and my King, meaning that I have a servant relationship with Him, and a public relationship with Him, as well as a personal relationship with Him.
But when Protestants ask about my personal relationship with Christ (after finding out that I am a church-goer) it makes it seem as though the “best friend” part is the only important aspect, and that obedience and Kingdom citizenship are not very important at all.
But when you love and admire someone you don’t feel as though he is yours alone.
Although I agree with much of what you are writing, I think that we have to be careful with how we use terminology. Some people who use the term ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ mean exactly what you write. When asked if I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I usually respond yes, because I am thinking along similar lines to you.
I’ve heard some people say,"As long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus it doesn’t matter if you go to church etc."In fact, I’ve heard this phrase used to overlook many bad behaviors.
I think the danger in the phrase comes when people simplify Christianity to only be about how you feel about Jesus. We have to be obedient also.
I think because if you find out that someone lives in London you think, cool - whatever… but if they say that they have a personal connection to the Queen they would be more ‘interesting’ for lack of a better term. Look, I am not saying that going to church isn’t important but I am more apt to listen to someone if their relationship is personal to them and it is a strong personal relationship rather than just going to church and everything on the outside looks good. Because we have a LOT of good actors in this world… it’s when you get inside when you find out who they really are and what they REALLY believe…
It is a balance really. We are called to obey God. So, going to church is as important as how you feel about Jesus.
How personal a relationship can you have if you never visit the person or do what they want you to do? Would you want a friend who never helped you or ignored all your house rules because they felt so much inner love for you?
Personal relationship? Are you kidding? Don’t you read the Psalms? What about: Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with ALL thine heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength"? That’s PERSONAL.
I strenuously object to the term “personal Lord and Savior” because while I agree that I must engage personally in my relationship with the Lord, he is not my “personal” Lord and Savior in any sense that would imply that I get to define what the relationship will be. For Catholics, our “personal” relationship is engaged with the entire Body of Christ in earth and in heaven. It is “personal” for me to participate in the sacraments and to relate to my fellow Christians.
Personal Lord and Savior? Anybody been to confession lately? How personal can you get. When my confessor places his hand on my head and pronounces the absolution, I know that that hand has received from personal hand-to-hand contact down through the ages, the power to forgive sins from Jesus Christ himself. I’d call that “personal.”
Yeah, but why does someone who plays golf on Sundays but claims to have a personal relationship with Christ have more credibility than someone who actually goes to His house every Sunday? That if you go to Church on Sundays, you are automatically assumed to have a “shallow” relationship with Christ.
That’s the part that I don’t like. I think it should be the other way around.
I mean, I could claim to have some kind of a relationship with the Queen, but if I don’t go to London very regularly, or if I only enter Buckingham Palace through the tourist entrance, I don’t see how my claim can be taken very seriously.
Not explicitly, but certainly the teaching that we are to have a personal relationship with Christ is implicit in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
Consider the following…
"…it is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us."
– Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with the Youth of Rome, 6 Apr 2006
“This mystery [of faith], then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and ***personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.***”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558
“…prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2565
“Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2713
“We have spoken of faith as an encounter with the One who is Truth and Love. We have also seen that this is an encounter which is both communitarian and personal, and must take place in all the dimensions of our lives through the exercise of our intelligence, the choices of freedom, the service of love. A privileged place exists, however, where this encounter takes place more directly. Here it is reinforced and deepened and thus can truly permeate and mark the whole of life: this space is prayer.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome, 5 Jun 06
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