A Cheap Slogan

I am still pondering this disease of individualism.

I am convinced the coined phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” is a cheap slogan, unneeded jargon, not in the Bible, and stresses individualistic faith.  Most meanings for this phrase are not biblical teaching.  “Personal” is mistaken for “private” or “individualistic”.  Or in other words… “Have you adequately performed the religious and/or le­galistic transactio­n that creates this personal relationsh­ip?” and “adequatel­y performed” would have a different definition depending on what denominati­on you are currently drinking from.

It is the personal aspect that is the catcher.  It is not any sort of communal thing, but a private, up-close and personal sort of thing.  Ultimately, the church pulpit helps promote any sort of Jesus that best fits your personal needs, wants, and morals.  The “personal relationship” teachings from our churches is as individualistic as it gets, and for something God created to be communal, it is probably as destructive as it can possibly get.

“Let me tell you about MY personal relationsh­ip with Jesus.” or  “Did I tell you what Jesus did for ME?”

It is still all about me, me, me.  The sermons are individualistic.  (Here are 5 bullet points on how YOU can become a better Christian).  In other words, if you want your Jesus friend to like YOU more, do these things.

The bible is also taught and read as “me” not “we”.  The Bible says for ME to do this, and for ME to do that, so I must do these things.  Why do we not read the Bible as plural, as a community.  The Bible says for US to do this together, and for US to do that together.  Jesus is living today as the CHURCH.. not as a bunch of individuals.

The Church – as community – will always be opposed to individualism.  The individualistic attitudes of today have deformed the thinking about the Church, and directly opposes the Lord’s greatest commandment to “love one another”.  It is sad that many Christians demonstrate individualism in their Christianity, thinking it is a sign of discipleship.  This in all actuality weakens them and the bond within the Church.

Have you ever met the “spiritual” person that stresses private devotions, theological knowledge, or “ministries” OVER relationships of love, sharing, and commitment.  Without knowing it, that person has given into an individualistic spirit, which is slowly breaking apart the Bride of Christ.

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4 thoughts on “A Cheap Slogan

  1. “Have you ever met the “spiritual” person that stresses private devotions, theological knowledge, or “ministries” OVER relationships of love, sharing, and commitment?”

    Actually….no, I haven’t.

    I’ll be honest: It was the times when I was ignoring my personal walk with Christ that I felt the most introverted. It was the time I pushed away the idea of community the most.

    I know that sounds like it doesn’t make sense. But when I actually take the time to connect with God on a personal level through prayer, etc., I feel more open to sharing with others, and helping the bride of Christ do what it is intended to do.

    Having a personal daily devotional/prayer time with God in the morning = / = Disliking worship in the community. I actually enjoy it MORE now, because I AM connected on a personal level.

    What’s more, yes…it IS Biblical to spend time alone with God. Even Jesus did it. The Gospels are littered with times that Christ would remove himself from everyone else, just to be alone with the Father. God gave Paul visions that were personal to him alone, even when Paul was with two other people on the road to Damascus. Later, He gave him another vision concerning the eating of animals when Paul was praying *alone*.

    God spoke to Elijah when he was alone, and afraid.

    Daniel prayed to God every morning, alone.

    David often cried out to God alone.

    And God often gave visions and instructions to people while they were alone.

    But I also wouldn’t ever say that God didn’t want them to also worship with others. I would never say that they PREFERRED to be alone.

    But I also think that the Bible more than proves that God is concerned about us as a community, AND is concerned about us individually. It’s both/and, not either/or.

    Just some thoughts from someone returning to the community. 🙂

    BTW, what church do you go to? Do you have a time every day that you get alone with God to pray/worship/etc.?

  2. Lady Tam Li – I agree with you when you say we should take time to pray alone and talk to God one on one. I am not against that at all.

    The point I was trying to make, and apparently not very well, is the focus churches have on the individual and not the community. Many churches today have a “Jesus Deficit Disorder”. They do not teach Christ. Christ IS the church, and everything should be focused on Him (which is all of us together, not just an individual).

    Let me try to explain a bit better. Most everything from the church I attended, and also from many discussions with others from other churches, is geared toward the individual.

    Many Evangelicals believe, because it is espoused from the pulpit, that sanctification is largely a solitary quest for personal holiness. And the current church structure merely helps out along the way. It facilitates. It is a convenience, and it is an expedient. That is all, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

    It is possible to condense all the changes down into one formula, salvation. In its broadest possible meaning, it is no longer conceived as a holy and loving relationship with God and, correlatively, fellow believers.
    Instead, it is conceived as “personal” empowerment – leading to a state of self-sufficiency (which is the very antithesis of what the term “relationship” is meant to convey).

    A major fundamental paradigm shift has been occurring – and its implications are staggering.

  3. Here’s a twist — Lately as I have grown (hopefully) in Christ, I really struggle with “testimonial” type songs with ” I and Me ” all through the verses and choruses. While I do celebrate personal victory and growth for any believer, I struggle with worship being the place for “proclaiming personal change”. Seems prideful, secular, and like religious boasting, and not deep humility. In any worship, these songs are on my radar, and stick out like a thorn and “distract” my time in the Spirit!! 🙂 “I, I, I, I, my, me, me, what you’ve done for me……” In any worship, these songs now stick out like a thorn and “distract” my time in the Spirit. Now, I can’t NOT spot them during worship… Guess I prefer songs TO God with “we, our, you, us, etc”….

    Anyone else afflicted with this?

    This may all seem as silly, since the Psalms are full of awesome Davidic ” I ” songs. And, it;s the heart of the author and singer that matters, right? ( I need prayer over this to be “free” in worship…! )

    Submitted with love,
    Todd

  4. Todd – David spent many lonely hours tending his flock of sheep. So of course there would be a lot of “I” statements, because he was by himself. We can have one on one prayer.

    Together when we gather as the ekklessia, I feel I should not focus on how myself and what “I” could do for the church, but what “we” can do together as one.

    I do think those songs you speak of spread a individual type thinking on how I can get myself to be loved by God better. We should always be singing songs of “we”.

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