“Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”
Over the course of my life, I have been presented with this question hundreds (if not thousands) of times. Growing up in the church, having a “relationship” with Jesus was presented as the hallmark of an authentic Christian faith and the primary guarantee of personal salvation. To be “saved” meant that Jesus lived “in your heart” through faith, making a “relationship” with God possible.
But entering into a relationship with Jesus was only the first step of the Christian faith. According to my youth pastor, the ultimate goal of the Christian life was to draw closer and closer to Jesus, and that could only come about with time and serious effort.
Although “close” and “personal” were never really defined (and strangely subjective), one thing was clear: In order to have a close relationship with Jesus, I needed to do certain things that made God smile—things like praying, reading the Bible and regularly attending church. Most of all, I needed to not do the things God frowned upon—things like smoke, drink and chew or hang out with girls who do (you heard that, too, right?). The more faithful and committed I was to these things, the closer I could get to Jesus.
Or, so I was told.
Read the rest of this article here.