Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

Is it possible to have a real personal relationship with Jesus, Mary, the Saints… God?

I’ve never met them. I can’t see or hear them…

And how can I really *love *Jesus? I can say I love my *idea *of Him. But can one actually love an idea, and is that the same as loving the Person?

If we’ve never actually met Christ face to face-- do we really know him personally?

Yes, you can have a personal relationship with Jesus, Mary, the Saints, and God.

Jesus is with us always–He resurrected from the dead. He is in every person that we meet. Read Matt 25: 31-46 for an example of this.

You won’t hear a “Charlton Heston-voice” in your head when God speaks to you. He speaks to you through other people. Promptings of the Holy Spirit (a.k.a. God) will guide you too–that’s communication. What people label as ‘coincidences’ are really ‘God-incidences’.

The key to developing a relationship is to spend TIME with God–just as you spend time with a friend to get to know him/her–you need to do the same with God–which means PRAYER–both private and community prayer and studying the Bible.

I’m sure others here will give you more advice, but this is a start…

–Barbara

This is related to a question that has caught my attention several times over the last few years.

It is not clear to me what this phrase, “personal relationship with Jesus,” is supposed to mean. I hear it used, but its meaning is always taken for granted and I cannot discern what people mean from the other things they say.

It does not seem to me to be a customary Catholic phrase. I searched the Councils of the Church and, at least in the translations that I have, this phrase does not appear even once. The closest is “This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God’s love, who called him to enter into a personal relationship with Him in Christ.” Ad Gentes, 13, Second Vatican Council.

This refers to a personal relationship with God in Christ. This seems less ambiguous than the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus.” In the Council’s phrase, it seems clear that the “personal” side of the relationship is ours. The Trinity is not accessible to be personally known. So, the Council’s phrase seems to refer to realizing that one’s relationship with God is personal to the human being. We are called to a personal commitment and dedication to God, as opposed to a merely formal relationship without personal commitment. Further, we are called to live “in Christ” that is to conform our thoughts, feelings, outlooks, judgments, passions, interests, and goals to Christ. In this sense, our entire person is called to conversion.

When people use the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus,” however, it seems more ambiguous. It is possible that the intended meaning is the same as that described above. However, as the opening post suggests, the phrase could also have a second meaning: because Jesus is an individual human person, the personal relationship could refer to His side of the relationship rather than ours.

If what is meant is an intimate knowing of the person of Jesus, then there seem to be great difficulties. Though Jesus can be known to some extent, through the Church especially, this is hardly what one would call “personal” in the usual sense that one uses that word when referring to knowing another human being.

The original poster seemed correct, there is a great danger of confusing one’s ideas or theories about Jesus for the actual Jesus. It is an open door to mistaking one’s feelings for communication with Jesus, when they may be no more than fantasy. Without the Church as an objective source and standard for judgment, there is no check on personal wishful thinking which constructs an idol in the place of the true Jesus.

Further, these two meanings seem to militate against each other. If one is called to personal commitment and full personal conversion, then focusing one’s efforts on a fantasy of the person Jesus might distract from this work of conversion and perfection. The fantasy of a “personal Jesus” might completely divert one from the reality of the call to repentance and conversion. This mistake seems like a wide open door for elements of Modernism and a fundamental frustration of the call to live Christ.

What do people think of this phrase and these questions about it? Where does this phrase come from? What do people understand it to mean? Is it part of Modernism, Protestantism, or another heresy?

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner

John and OP,
This is a very thought-provoking thread. I believe the emphasis on this phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” comes from Protestantism. And since I am a Catholic, I can’t really speak to what they mean by this terminology. But I can speak to how I interpret it.

Taking from John’s link:

This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God’s love, who called him to enter into a personal relationship with Him in Christ.”

Christ told us that anyone who knows Him knows the Father. Christ becomes real to me through the Scripture, where by reading His words, and the words of His disciples, I can know Him in a more transcendent and “personal” way. And because Christ rose on the third day, He is still alive and present to me. Hence, I am not just “relating” to someone who lived a long time ago, but rather I am in constant communication with someone who is present to me now. He is with me in the Eucharist at Mass, in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and in the faces of those around me.

If what is meant is an intimate knowing of the person of Jesus, then there seem to be great difficulties. Though Jesus can be known to some extent, through the Church especially, this is hardly what one would call “personal” in the usual sense that one uses that word when referring to knowing another human being.

If I understand you correctly, then I would agree that to “know” Jesus as a human person would be terribly limited and limiting. It would be similar, in some ways, to claiming one could know Socrates or Lincoln because of what they have read or learned of them. It would be impossible to claim a personal relationship with an historical figure who was merely human. But I don’t think that is what the OP means, and it’s not what I mean. Although knowledge of Christ’s personhood is fundamental to our Catholic understanding of God made Man, without an understanding of Christ’s divinity, we are simply making an “idol” of an historical person.

The original poster seemed correct, there is a great danger of confusing one’s ideas or theories about Jesus for the actual Jesus. It is an open door to mistaking one’s feelings for communication with Jesus, when they may be no more than fantasy. Without the Church as an objective source and standard for judgment, there is no check on personal wishful thinking which constructs an idol in the place of the true Jesus.

I disagree with this assessment to some extent, although I think I understand your caution. But as a faithful Catholic, I have been known to indulge in “imagining” Jesus. Especially while reading Scripture, it’s practically impossible not to wonder what He may have felt or thought, or whether He laughed or smiled. I don’t think it’s dangerous to imagine how Christ may have felt when He carried His cross, or looked down upon His mother as He was dying. Within the boundaries of Catholic understanding, I think it is harmless for the faithful to “wish” that Christ is engaged in a personal way with their walk in this life. Through prayer, we can indeed hear His will for us and grow in quite intimate love and devotion.

I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I know Him through His Word in the Bible, through His sacraments especially in Holy Communion when I receive Him, and through my daily prayers.

Having a personal relationship with Jesus is not only possible but necessary for spiritual growth.

Keep in mind however, that this relationship is on a spiritual level, not on a physical or emotional level as you would have with people in your life.

This spiritual relationship grows as Christ comes into your life on deeper levels. St. John of the Cross calls the relationship a spiritual marriage and describes the relationship as the soul being the bride and Christ being the bridegroom. This is a harder concept for males to grasp, that it is for females, but again, we must understand that the relationship is again on a spiritual level, not a humanistic one and it is unconditional love. We love Christ not for the benefits and consolations we receive, but because he is God and deserves our love.

As this relationship grows, there is a transformation in the soul, to where the lover becomes like the beloved. The spiritual union of the soul with Christ is the greatest gift we can experience here on earth.

So the answer is yes, we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jim

Knowing about a person and know a person are two different things.
We can know about a person by reading the news to do with him, or hearing things about him from other people. We don’t know the person until we have personal contact and encounter with the person. The more time we spend with the person, the better we know the person, and we start to build a personal relationship with the person.

Knowing about Jesus and know Jesus are two different things.
We can read about Jesus from the Bible, hear about Jesus from the sermons or other people’s testimonies. But we only know Jesus through our own personal encounter with Him. The more time we spend with Jesus, the better we know him and the better we can hear what he says to us. We start to build a personal relationship with Jesus.

The Bible says if we seek we will find.
If we seek to know our Lord whole heartedly, we will find him, know him, and have a personal relationship with him.

In my daily walk with the Lord, He loves, comforts, guides, guards, protects, inspires, teaches and convicts me. He also provides for me. Jesus is my God, my Savior, my Master, my best friend and my love. Day in and day out Jesus is intimate in my heart. I cannot live any moment or any place without Him. My relationship with Jesus is the closest personal relationship I ever have with anybody.

Yes I agree that there is no life in the form of a relationship when there is no knowledge of the person spiritually or in the flesh. For Jesus we know Him through the readings in the bible and in the Eucharist, this is in the spirit but we also see Jesus in other people, hence the reading Judge not least you be judged the same, also God made man to His own likeness.

Also we can see Jesus in all there is around us Land Sea or sky, for God created all things even the blade of grass and if we see God in that then one can feel the love just pore out and right through us. Just to hear the name of Jesus is enough to bring a smile to the whole body of a person. To accept all that He did for me to know that He alone loves me completely no frills, no butts, no not now and al because He loves me.

Wow that is enough to want me to love Him, but to know that He gave all His kingship, His glory in Heaven to die for a sinful person as I am. This surly is enough to take all the love I could have for any person and to readily want to give not only my love to Him but all that I am, that I have, all that I could ever be and say Jesus it is Yours do with me what ever You will.
I can say that because He is LOVE and to give all to Love cannot be bad because Love cannot do wrong to me.
Have a look at all the paintings and photos of te saints and in each one the loiok on their face is one of complete abandonment their whole being is saying “Jesus my Lord and my God I love You with all that I am”.
Yes if you can love a person to the point of marriage, then how could a person who God made to HIS likeness ( yourself that is) not love the creator of self to the point of complete abandonment, if you so wished. You can have the most loving sinless full love life while on this earth if you so wish to give yourself to Jesus.

Godbless
littleone

I agree, but you left out one very important piece and that is we know Jesus by withdrawing to our inner being, where Jesus dwells. Being with Him in quiet prayer, is how he communicates best with us and how that personal relationship grows.

St. Teresa of Avila said something to the effect that, it is when we are at the center of the depth of our being, that God communicates best with us.

Sure, we see the hand of God in nature, but remember, those are God’s gifts to us, they are not him. Don’t place more importance in God’s creation than in God himself.

We also see Jesus in other human beings, but you will fail to see Jesus in others, if you have not yet discovered Jesus within you.

Jim

Your post/questions reminds me of my personal favorite Chapter in Scripture.

It says it all for me.

31 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

Jeremiah 31

You can know Him most assuredly in those who need:

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'Matt 25:35-40

Take Mother Teresa as your example, who encountered the face of Christ in the poor.

This phrase was coined by Protestants (specifically evangelicas) who deny the sacraments. Since Catholics believe that we encounter and maintain a personal relationship with God through the sacraments, those that deny the reality of them had to come up with another way to have intimacy with God.

I do too. It’s as if HE is in me…in my heart. All I want is to praise HIM, talk to HIM thru prayer and sing to HIM. It is a LOVE that is much more than a love of husband and wife.
Perhaps you might start by praying, talk to HIM (HE listens) Pray the rosary and have faith. As you keep doing this, you will start to notice a change in you.
Faith is believing what you cannot see…you cannot see for now but you will someday. :slight_smile:

I have never had an issue with this. Perhaps those who cannot understand having a personal relationship with God have simply never allowed themselves to be open enough to hear and feel God.

I feel Him every day in my thoughts and prayers. I also feel Mary and my favorite saint St. Theresa of the Andes, when I seek their intersession. Personal relationships with them are not hard to come by, they are always there waiting for us to come to them.

Do we need to be careful when considering what we find “within?” How does this “withdrawing to our inner being, where Jesus dwells” relate to the “inner rooms” of Jesus’ warning about being mislead?

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, Lo, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out; if they say,Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. Matthew 24:25-27 (RVSCE)

This all seems very treacherous to me, and close to the “religious immanence” theory condemned as part of Modernism. See, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 7 et seq.

Spiritus Sanctus nobiscum.

John Hiner

Thanks for your beautiful explanation…I’ve had a close relationship w/ Jesus since I was a child in the Baptist Church(over 50 years ago)…what you have said puts it into an even deeper perspective…

I have also wondered about having a “personal relationship” with Jesus. We believe in a triune God, so do we have a “relationship” with Jesus because he was revealed to us in both human and divine forms? I want a relationship with God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ALL IN ONE. Does this make sense?

God bless you my brother for your information which to a point I agree with. I hope it is seen that I wrote as I thought the spirit was leading, and it is in going to the people at their height. I read the questioner as wishing to gain knowledge and maturity the same as you have gained through time and endurance by the grace of God. I do believe that here milk and money is being asked for, however you discern. I do not wish to lead away from the question that was firstly presented.

But I would like to ask you a few questions please relating to the information you have written so that I may understand you please.
Firstly, how are you relating to ones inner self, Ihave reservations about turning inward to self if that is what you are meaning, will you express your understanding of St Teresa, and the inner self please?

I have many proverbs God has had me write down one of which is
"The person who sees the creation may never see the creator, but the person who sees the creator has already seen the creation, because they are one and the same". This I think is what you have written in the third point.

I could never write what I have unless that firstly is how I am in my heart. The reading in James 3: 5 tells us that we have to turn away from speaking boastfully, for it is from our heart what is expressed then from our tong.

God bless Jim,
littleone

Hardly treacherous but in fact what Jesus and the Saints taught us.

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Also, St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle,” is all about God dwelling within us.

Jim

littleone,

    God dwells within us, and for us to be close to him, we need to go within ourselves, to the depth of our very being, to be with Him. If you doubt this, here's just a couple verses from scripture to show that God does dwell within us.

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Turning to our interior, is not to be confused with building a self-centered ego. Rather, it’s turning to the interior of your being,(who you are), to be with Christ, who dwells within you.

St. Teresa’s Interior Castle explains this.
Fr. Dubay in his book, “The Fire Within,” does a better job explaining it that I could ever attempt to do. I highly recommend reading his book.

Jim

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