December 25, 2007

A Personal Relationship with Jesus: Goals for Women's Ministry Leaders

Has the call to have "a personal relationship with Jesus" become more of a cliche that feeds into our individualistic ideals, or does is point clearly to the need to know Jesus as both human and divine and his redemptive work on the cross? Does "a personal relationship with Jesus" bring to mind the core doctrines of the Christian faith, or does it propose a feminized Christianity that appeals to our therapeutic needs as something separate from our intellectual life.

As I have been thinking about the work of women's ministries in the local church in the upcoming year, I hope that this is the year that our womens ministry leaders will not only move away from the cliches and stereotypes, but actually refute them. And so I challenge each of you to consider this, "a personal relationship with God," and be prepared to talk to the women in your ministries about what this really means.

My friend, Keith Plummer, addressed this issue in a blogpost in 2005. I'm thankful for the archiving of blogs as this is one you should take a look at. In it, Keith reflects:
Talk of having a personal relationship with Jesus is so deeply entrenched in evangelical discourse that calling it into question may strike us as sacrosanct. But hopefully we're willing to ask, along with Noll, whether this emphasis is due more to an attempt to be biblically faithful or to the imbibing of American cultural values (e.g., individualism).

In one sense, the idea of needing to come to Christ in order to have a personal relationship with God is misleading. Every person stands in a relationship with God. Coming to Christ changes the nature of that relationship from one of condemned criminals before a just judge to that of pardoned and accepted sinners graciously adopted into a nurturing family. So, the critical question as far as the gospel is concerned, is not so much whether one has a personal relationship with God but rather what kind of relationship one has.

What is the nature of your relationship with Jesus? Is it grounded in an understanding of the Scriptures? Is it purely existential in that it that the relationship is reduced to merely the individual experience? Is the relationship measured qualitatively according to how you feel on a given day? Does your understand ing of who God is include a biblical anthropology?

It's not about whether or not you have a relationship with Jesus, it's about what that relationship looks like. We have the Scriptures to teach us about who God is and how he has acted in history. Because the testimony of Scripture points to a sovereign Lord who cares about even the smallest details of our lives, we can call him our personal savior. He works within human history, having his hand on the course of events without limitation. This is the God who can be trusted and depended upon. Does your relationship with Jesus acknowledge this truth?

Women's ministry leaders: make 2008 the year for reflecting on the sovereignty of God.

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