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.