Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching on the subject of the uniqueness of Christ. I chose to begin by affirming the facts. Who Jesus was and what He did was not a myth that grew over several generations as some critics suggest. The very first followers, the eyewitnesses, were absolutely committed to the fact of His crucifixion and resurrection. As well as what He did, they were committed to who He was – fully human and fully God (not a belief that devout Jews would accidentally “slip” into).
But then after stating the facts, I chose to share a narrative that would take us to the heart of who He was and what He came to do. The facts took on flesh. I wanted to try and offer the wow, and also the woo. What do I mean by that? Well, there are some who are wishy-washy on the facts about Christ, but they speak of their relationship with “their Jesus.” And there are others who are strongly orthodox in their beliefs, but seemingly very cold and distant in terms of relationship. But the reality should be both/and. Who He is and what He’s done is vitally important. And He wants to be in a personal relationship with us. We must be clear on what the Bible teaches, but our relationship is not built on affirmations of truth statements alone.
To speak of personal relationship with Christ is not some fluffy contemporary lightweight spiritual fad. As Ron put it recently, the love we speak of is the blood red love of God. A true encounter with Christ in His Word should both wow us, and woo us.
My wife and I learned early on in our marriage that thinking of the relationship between Christ and the church is helpful to our relationship. How am I supposed to love my wife? As Christ loved the church. How is she supposed to respond to my love? As the church does to Christ. Etcetera. But this can be turned around too. What does it mean to be in a relationship with Christ?
Well, among many other aspects of relationship, surely it means spending time together, sharing experiences together, building history together, communicating in both directions, really listening to His Word, pouring out our hearts to Him, resisting anyone or anything that might draw our hearts away from Him. And more. Just like any relationship, there is no one-time quick-fix that will suddenly make me a mature Christian, or make my relationship with Christ a mature one. My marriage to Melanie requires the certificate, but it doesn’t focus on the legal document, it grows through ongoing interpersonal connection over time. Likewise a true relationship with Christ is much more relational than we often make it out to be.
I hope the message yesterday was in some way effective. And I hope this continues to be true in my life. As I look in His Word I see the wow effect of His grace in action, and the wooing effect of the God-man who actually desires to be in a personal relationship with me.