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A 'personal' Relationship With God

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So, I'm raised by two Southern Baptists (i'm a wannbe Episcopalian) and they often times talk about the importance of a personal relationship with God...so my question is, do you have a personal relationship with God??

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Guest wayfarer2k
So, I'm raised by two Southern Baptists (i'm a wannbe Episcopalian) and they often times talk about the importance of a personal relationship with God...so my question is, do you have a personal relationship with God??

 

Wow, that's a toughy, Brad!

 

Hmm...I guess it depends on how you define a "personal relationship."

 

When I was a Baptist, a "personal relationship" meant a number of things:

1. I believed that Jesus died "personally" for me.

2. I believed that God spoke "personally" to me (through scripture and his Spirit).

3. I believed that God has a "personal" spot reserved for me in heaven.

4. I believed that God wanted me to "personally" witness to anyone who came my way.

5. I believed my "personal" sins came between me and God.

6. I believed that God has a "personal" plan for my life, laid out in exact detail and that I needed to discover it or miss God's will

7. I believed that my "personal relationship" with God consisted of reading the bible, praying, going to church, witnessing, having a quiet time, and adhering to what my denomination taught me.

 

So much has changed.

 

For one thing, I discovered that God was interested in the whole world, not just ME. Ha ha! I grew concerned that a Christianity that was all about "personal" me was somehow missing something. I didn't doubt that God loved me, I just felt that Christianity was too focused on individualism when Jesus seemed to want to build community and relationships. Does that make sense?

 

So do I now have a "personal relationship" with God?

 

Yes, I believe I do. But I define it different. I believe that God has ALWAYS had a relationship with me, not just since I said "the Sinner's Prayer."

 

And I see God as a presence all around us in whom we live, move, and have our being. This make a HUGE difference in my life.

 

Let me offer a quick analogy. Usually when a conservative Christian asked, "Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior?" or "Do you have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ?", they are saying "YOU are over here, GOD is over there. Have you made the connection?" They say that you are so distinct from God that until you say a sinner's prayer (or follow some formula or rite), you are separated from God. God is a person. You are a person separate from him. So a "personal relationship" consist of GOD, as a person, interacting with YOU, as a person.

 

The problem with this, for me, is that I no longer view God as a person. A person always has limits. A person has boundaries. A person has "personal space". Yes, sometimes the bible speaks of God in this way. But there are also numerous places in the bible where God is referred to in NON-PERSONAL terms.

 

Terms like love, life, the wind, an all-encompassing presence, wisdom, spirit.

 

Now, do I have a "relationship" with these non-personal aspects of God. Certainly. And I think they transcend the "personal" view.

 

This is getting long and I don't want to bore you to death, so, to summarize:

 

My relationship to/with God transcends the "personal". This doesn't mean that it is LESS than personal, rather, it is personal-PLUS. I am part of the God who is love, who is life, who is like the wind, who fills and encompasses all, who is wisdom, who is spirit who, unlike persons, cannot be confined to time and space. This doesn't mean that I AM God, just that I am in God and that God is in me. And I believe the same about you.

 

Excellent question. I'm glad you asked it. I hope my answer wasn't too confusing. My journey to think outside the box is a fairly recent one.

 

I hope others chime in on this. It will be interesting to see how others talk about their "personal relationship" to God.

 

Regards,

bill

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Small addition, Brad:

 

Life, love, wisdom, knowledge, peace, spirit -- I experience these aspects of God "personally", as a person, but I'm still reluctant to say that God is "a person", despite some claims of the bible and 1600 years of the trinity doctrine. As Spong says, "If horses had gods, they would look like horses." Because we are persons, we create God in our image.

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Well I think God is always seeking a relationship with us, and we merely have to respond...
n

 

That's a good thought, Brad. Relationship certain implies interaction.

 

BTW, I need to clarify my previous post (I do that alot). I didn't mean to say that we create God, as though God is a human invention. I just meant that all of our images of God are human creations. There is God as God really is...and then there is the images whereby we perceived and interpret him. A good example of this is that when I was a conservative, my image of God was primarily one of a heavenly book-keeper of my sins who would someday judge me. I am letting go of that image without letting go of God.

 

From your experiences, how you you describe a personal relationship with God?

 

bill

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No worries, I know what you mean.

 

From my experience, hmm...thats hard! I guess from my experience I thought that God was just a heavenly friend, who loved me...I never saw God as Evil, or mean, just loving, like a friend.

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Hey questioner,

 

Great question! I remember a friend from the Vineyard church telling me that she never found my Methodist church inspiring because it didn't put enough emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus. At first I felt a little insulted, but now I agree that my church doesn't put as great of an emphasis on Jesus being the only way to know God. In the past few years I have been asked by several non-church-going friends why I spend my time going to church and why I am a Christian out of all the faiths out there. These things have all made me deeply consider my "personal" relationship to God and to Jesus.

 

I have never felt like I have a very good personal testimony about how having Jesus as my friend has changed my life, since I was a person who always had known Jesus and never had a conversion experience. The book, So You Can't Stand Evangelism, I got from the TCPC store, asks each of us to consider how Jesus has "set us free." For example, when I was younger, I used to get stressed/angry/gossipy because I had very high standards of behavior for other people. It allowed me to feel superior to other people when they didn't keep their word or were unkind in some way. But, in a way those people became enemies for me. God has been showing me that. In doing a Bible study of Matthew, I was asked me to think about any enemies I have, and I thought of a woman I have to deal with in Boy Scouts. I called her up and told her I thought we had developed an adversarial relationship and that I wanted to start anew. A huge weight was lifted from me. There are many ways God has been showing me that I have no idea where someone else is coming from or what situation they are going through at any given moment, so I need to STOP judging them. And, I feel a lot happier now that I am free from that, even though I don't feel superior to other people anymore.

 

Also, God has been working to show me the importance of another Bible teaching I have always hated -- "Do not worry (see the lillies and the birds - God takes care of them, etc.)".

 

This is the way I feel I have a "personal" relationship with God. The things that God shows me in life may be completely different than the things God teaches you, since we each come to God our own personal weaknesses and strengths. Also, the part of God that lives inside me (the Holy Spirit) leads me personally to live and love with intention, even if I sometimes fail!

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There are many ways God has been showing me that I have no idea where someone else is coming from or what situation they are going through at any given moment, so I need to STOP judging them. And, I feel a lot happier now that I am free from that, even though I don't feel superior to other people anymore.

 

Great input, AITNOP. It is a powerful idea to think that perhaps the best way we can have a personal relationship to God is to develop personal relationships with others.

 

bill

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Thanks for sharing AITNOP...thats a great story!

 

I live in God, God surrounds me, I always know that God is there for me...that's my relationship.

 

I agree that the manifestation of the physical world is the personal aspect of God in all things. All things in the physical world, each one of us, nature and even the smallest atom emerged from The Father. Since all things come from God, we can approach God the Father in His creation, in nature, in the flowers, in the mountains, in the oceans and in our fellow human beings. God the Father can be approached and He will respond. This is the personal aspect of God where creation responds in nature and in our individual lives.

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I agree that the manifestation of the physical world is the personal aspect of God in all things. All things in the physical world, each one of us, nature and even the smallest atom emerged from The Father. Since all things come from God, we can approach God the Father in His creation, in nature, in the flowers, in the mountains, in the oceans and in our fellow human beings. God the Father can be approached and He will respond. This is the personal aspect of God where creation responds in nature and in our individual lives.

Yeah...I believe we see God in all of Creation!

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