Jesus is a Person

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.

7 Responses to Jesus is a Person

  1. Andrea August 31, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    Some days ago I was listening to “Character Under Construction”, a series by Andy Stanley you can find here:
    In one of the sermon, he talks about the need we have as Christians to stay close to Jesus so that HIS life and character can develop in us (John 15). To do this he gave a practical suggestion that this post reminded me of:
    “When you think of Jesus, think RELATIONALLY, not religiosly”.

    Thanks for this post.

  2. Alan September 2, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks for this post. Something I have been really challenged about also.The person of Christ and what I have through him.

    Could I pose a question slightly off topic but related to the post?

    I was recently at a service in a prison and the pastor was chatting afterwards and he mentioned the difficulties they face in preaching a message that includes intimacy and personal connections with Christ, as many of the inmates won’t be able to accept these phrases. He then made a comment which has remained with me and caused me to think. He said “the word relationship is never used in the bible to describe us and God”.

    I looked this up and was surprised to find that it wasn’t. And in fact the only time it is mentioned is when Paul condemns the Jews that rely on the Law and brag about their relationship with God.

    This made me ask the question, are we imparting a human attribute to our connection with God that isn’t strictly true? Is it a relationship? Or is it something more, is it a dependancy?

    I have thought a lot about it and could write further but was just interested to hear your views and them linked into the pose of our relationship with God being like all human relatiuonships?

  3. Ron Frost September 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    May I pitch in on your question, Alan? I certainly can’t engage what the pastor had in mind (there’s probably a greater context behind his remark) but I can pick up on your question in some measure.

    Relationship, as we use it today, is certainly a fuzzy word that invites some scrutiny whenever it’s used. So what do we mean by it? It serves our present generation in ways that other words like “koinonia/fellowship” served the New Testament era with similar/same substance. We, for instance, use the term to mean something like “sharing in mutual awareness and communication, often with some element of bonding”. We would, for instance, think of “family relationships” as a touchstone use for the term: of parents and children sharing in familial bonds.

    With that in mind, take a quick trip through the New Testament and trace the number of times we, as believers, are invited to see ourselves as “children” of God. I think, for instance, of Jesus speaking in John 8:34-38 about our becoming sons instead of servants; or of 1 John 3:1-3; and of countless other texts that speak of our invitation to call God our Father and “Daddy”/Abba; and the calls for us to “abide” in Christ, in his word, and in his love. Even if the term “relationship” wasn’t the specific language of the day, the content saturates the New Testament. If nothing else, our reading of Christ’s prayer in John 17 (with the language of union and oneness that is rooted in God’s shared love) is mind-boggling.

    The problem in the prisons, then, may be that these are some very unloved folks who are awaiting the experience of forgiveness and reconciliation: “the one who is forgiven much, loves much.” Thus, “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love each other” and the measure of this is “no greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for another” which is what Christ offers us through our union/communion with him.

  4. Peter Mead September 4, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    I suppose I’m reiterating the illustration I used in my post, but it bears another mention I think. Throughout the OT and NT God consistently uses the imagery of husband/wife to illustrate His connection to His people. So in the OT we see Israel as the often unfaithful wife of the LORD (leading to righteous jealousy language, etc. Hosea is well known, but also Ezekiel 16 is stunning, as are the early chapters of Jeremiah, plus many more references).

    Then in the NT we have Christ and His bride, the Church. The marital imagery is used in Ephesians 5, of course, but also by implication in places like John 14:1-3, 1 John 3, etc.

    Perhaps “relationship” is not the word used, but what would the alternative concept be? Seems like the distant contractual deity with slaves that might be offered as an alternative is very cold and so limited in comparison to the warmth of the biblical language of friends, children, bride, even bond-servants, and a covenant making God, etc.

    I suppose this is an issue in our Bible studies. If we argue against something because of the absence of a specific term, we can get into some interesting places theologically. I suppose I’m thinking of concepts like the Trinity, church-planting, Sunday School, guitar, small groups, Bible studies, mentoring, etc. It seems wiser to be sensitive to the concepts offered in Scripture using related terms.

    On the specific matter of the prison situation, I can’t help but think of testimonies I’ve heard of people who never had a loving earthly father, but gradually learned to trust in a perfect heavenly father. Or people who were hurt by human spouses, but have learned that our heavenly bridegroom can be fully trusted. Certainly we need to connect with people where they are at, but we also need to recognise the need of our listeners (who as humans are made in the image of a relational God). I think this is a fascinating specific application that is worth a lot more thought and conversation.

    Any thoughts Alan, or anyone else?

  5. Marcus Honeysett September 6, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    I think the alternative concept to relationship is “walking by the Spirit”. Or living by or being led by. Chief references being Gal 3 & 5 and Rom 8. In Gal 5 and Rom 8 it is clear that walking by the Spirit is transformational of life, character and desires. While Gal 3 actively expects the Holy Spirit to work miracles among us as we believe the gospel with faith. This relationship is not a one-way proposition of us merely assenting to things that are true in order to receive legal benefits. The relationship from us to God looks like desiring what the Spirit desires and expressing our faith in love. The relationship from him to us looks like him presencing himself by the Spirit for our good and his glory

  6. Alan September 7, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Thanks for the responses. Some very interesting points and some good clarification. I can see that the word ‘relationship’ shouldn’t be a concern, and goes in some way to describe the situation of bride/Church, husband/wife as you reference Peter, but perhaps the reason it was not used in reference to us and God is because of the ramifications of extrapolations made on our understanding of the word. Our relationship with God isn’t the same as our relationships with all other human beings in all casesand all ways but there are parallels that can be drawn. And when these parallels line up with scripture we are sure of our doctrine but if the parallels don’t (or can’t) be lined up with scripture then they don;t apply.

    For example if I were to say ‘we know that all relationships get let down at some point’, then this clearly wouldn;t apply to God as he never lets us down. Or if I were to say ‘all relationships need give and take’ then this clearly wouldn’t apply as we deserve nothing from God and all we have been given is by the Mercy and Grace of God. But using one of your examples Ron, if I were to say ‘as with all father/son relationships, the father loves to hear from the heart of his son’ this might well apply and can be born out in scripture through various descriptions of God wanting our hearts rather than our scrifices…..

    Would this be a fair explanation?

  7. DUANE WATTS September 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm #


    Hmmm, maybe some of us are relationally challenged. Probably most of us are, in some facet or facets of relationship (e.g. co-dependence). Some are just hardshelled, because they have only ever had utilitarian relationships. If this is you, please pray the Lord to show you what real love is. And we will pray for those prisoners, that the Lord shows them what real love is. The alternative is that love is not relationship: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart… For God so loved the world….

    If not relationship, then what?
    This may be more annectdotal, but now, when I read the beginning of Genesis, I read “It is good”, it’s like when I write something I believe the Lord has had a hand in writing: “Wow that’s good!” (I blush to say it). Does anyone else get that?
    When I read that God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth, it’s like God composed Adam like the finest symphonic piece, His Magnum Opus. And then He Breathed the Spirit into the man’s nostrils, and he became a living soul. That’s Good!
    Then He created the church, no, His figure of the church, His earthly figure of the Bride of Christ. He sedated Adam and took Eve from Adam. He awoke Adam, and Adam saw Eve and was definitely impressed. Look at Song of Solomon. It is widely excepted that the Song is not about sex, but about Christ and His bride. While I can not affirm the former, I agree with the latter. And if that is not about relationship, then what? Navels and hip bones?
    I thought a definition from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979 G & C Merriam Co. might help.
    The closest I got was “Relation 4 b: relationship by consanguinity [blood] or affinity: kinship.

    Then Affinity 2 a: Sympathy marked by community of interest.

    Not much help.

    I’m thinking in the direction of Ron’s “bonding” and mutual communication, and mutual interest. Of course this all, This ALL is founded upon an earthward move from Heaven.
    For me, (not that that’s truth) the word “LOVE” means…thinking as I go….
    I’ve been over this ground before:
    1 Corinthians 13 “Love is…” to me, used to be another set of rules and ideals set up for me to try to live by and fail, like the fruit of the Spirit. Now, I begin to see that passage as Christ. God Is Love: Jesus is God’s revelation on earth. Paul is telling us what love is: He is really telling us Who Jesus is:
    Jesus is longsuffering, and is kind. Jesus envies not. Jesus does not boast, is not arrogant(Phillipians 2:5-8), Jesus does not behave rudely, seeks not His own. He is not easily provoked nor resentful. Jesus does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

    Now, I could not get from Websters the definition of “relationship” to which we referred.
    Perhaps Affective Theology needs to mint a more complete definition. It would probably be more effective than coining a new word or phrase. Or adopt a more fitting word from another language.

    I like that you affirm that this is not just mushy love, but it is wrapped in Truth and Light.
    A non-trinitarian jesus is not Jesus.
    I do like this song, on it’s surface it may seem to be against good theology, but somehow I think the singer just intends to bring us closer to Him who calls us and to woo the seeker:

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