When Your “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Isn’t Very Personal
The questions assumes the possibility of such and is both a selling point to the unconverted and a test of conversion to the already “saved”.
Some Christians give you the impression that they have regular interactions with Jesus as one would chat with a spouse or co-worker.
This leaves other Christians feeling like the black sheep of the family as they don’t have those sorts of “breakfast with Jesus” encounters.
Indeed, some despair because they’ve never experienced anything in their faith walk that even approximates a “personal relationship with Jesus”.
They believe in Him by faith, not by some sort of relational feelings….and wonder where the feelings are they’re supposed to have.
An example would be someone having panic attacks due to stress when they’re supposed to be experiencing the comfort and peace of God…but there is no comfort to be found.
Unanswered prayer or prayer that seems to hit the ceiling and fall back on your head can cause deep pain and frustration.
My own walk has been dotted with a few times when I thought perhaps I was “experiencing” God…most of it has been stumbling through a desert wondering where the promised water had gone.
Theologians talk about mediated and unmediated encounters with God.
An unmediated encounter is when Christ appears to one as He appeared to Paul or to the desert mystics…it’s a direct meeting with the living God.
It also seems to be what the church promises to the unconverted, but the Lord rarely delivers to the degree promised.
A mediated encounter is when we meet Christ through other means…preaching, the Scriptures. the Lord’s Supper, etc.
This is the norm and some would say that meeting the Lord outside a few defined means is deception.
When honest believers speak of the lack of personal interaction with God, they’re taking a risk.
Other believers, thinking they are defending God or one of the means of grace will assume the problem lies in you.
Perhaps you were never saved.
Pray harder, fast more, sing louder, cut off your hand, pluck out your eye…cause you’re the problem.
I don’t think so.
The Christian life is full of mediated encounters with Christ.
Sometimes they happen through the “normal” means of grace…sometimes, much of the time, they don’t.
By faith…I believe every kind word or act toward me is an encounter with the love and comfort of God mediated through His people and sometimes, those who don’t know yet that they are His people.
By faith… I believe that the darkness and despair I often experience is a gift from God telling me that He has felt it too and the light is coming…
By faith…I believe that even the joy and comfort I receive from my cats is for me, from the heart of God.
By faith…I sometimes hear His voice though Scripture, but most often through people expressing sacrificial love, a desire for justice, a plea for righteousness, and a hope for tomorrow.
I take all this by faith…there’s nothing overtly supernatural on the surface of things, but upon further observation a case can be made that it all is.
Sometimes, though rarely, He comes by Himself.
That’s the case I make…by faith.
Make your own application…