I walked into my friends’ living room this afternoon and, low and behold, on the TV screen was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back! No other significance to that than its inspiration of my title, somewhat Star Wars-ish. A new exploration into something I needed to do ages ago with Jesus. So here it goes, a new leap of faith into trying to sort out what it indeed means to have a personal relaitonship with Jesus, according to Hannah Mecaskey.
Hm, what DOES it mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus? That begs the question of who is Jesus. Well, the pat Christian answer is “Jesus Christ is the Son of God, a member of the Godhead, Trinity, and a resurrected human being.” Jesus is the theological center of Christian belief. But for me, Jesus extends beyond the theology into my personal imagination and relational/psychological formation from a young, young age. Jesus is personal. Its easy in CHristianity, regardless of hoe much one studies it and engages with it devotionally, to separate the Jesus from the Christ.
As my valuation of the New Testament centers on Pauline Christology… Paul who seems to care about the Christ event, the Messiah, the person who acted to bring an eschatological hope to fruition… the time when Gentiles could be ushered into relation with God, just as Paul’s own people, the Jews enjoyed. Christ was a principle more than a person, but not to the exclusion of personhood… Christ was a principle of unity, a bridge. But after Paul, the gospels and the life of Christ became very popular. So a Christian imagination has much dissonant, canonical food upon which to munch as it creates its own world and relationship with this Jesus the Christ.
But that’s on the verge of theological Jesus. I’m not saying that personal Jesus and theological Jesus are not one and the same, but it is easy to fragment Jesus into several portions. There is a sociality implicit in the gospel message, a social gospel, but the gospel is more than social. The gospel is as much about human relationship with God as it is about intra-human relationships… because if there is to be peace on earth, humankind must be at peace with heaven too.
The Jesus of my imagination, stemming from the Jesus I met in the pages of scriptures and teachings of my Sunday School leaders, became intensely personal through my prayer life… which became stylized as a dialog in writing. Jesus and I talk… through my stripping bare of my self, through introspection, and the working of the spirit in my own imagination and my conversations with others. The mystery of human relationship easily enough reveals insights of God and the person of Jesus…
So this is a start on who Jesus is, and what is means to relate to Jesus.
But how is this relating to Jesus, in my own introspection, in relationships with others? How is this no just something on the existential plane it is first perceived on? Well, I guess because I believe in souls and I think that real human communion happens on a level deeper than the skin, when we step out of ourselves and unite in something common with one another. In that sacred space, Jesus is present, when two people are united in His name. What does that unity look like? It’s hard to describe without experiencing it. But I have been blessed enough to experience it, and I think it is something conscious on the part of both parties. I almost want to say its a mystical experience, but none of the senses and none of the intellect is absent.
Both parties are in communion with one another and Christ when they can acknowledge mutual sense of a presence more than either of them on their own or in casual conversation. I tend to believe it is a rare thing when people reveal themselves enough to one another to open up enough space and vulnerability for Christ to enter. It is deeply moving and connecting. I have only experienced this a few times and value immensely the relationships forged out of these connections… which challenge me to holy living and satisfy a deep longing in my soul, like a drink of water, no matter how brief a drink.
I think it is so much more common to experience God in relationship, personal relationship, than Jesus. Jesus is a different kind of revelation than God. Scripture tells me God is known on a different kind of plane than Jesus, one that doesn’t necessarily require the kind of Christian revelation. At least that’s my thought. For me, Jesus is the most natural person to experience in personal relationship… because my relationship with Jesus is one that tries to seek Jesus out at every opportunity… usually unvoiced in circumstances where Jesus is not shared. Relationship into which Jesus steps is different than relationship WITH JESUS.
Just how do I explain that? How do I relate with Jesus? The sharing of Jesus in communion with others is a large part, a crucial part… but Jesus one-on-one is also a crucial part for me… and Jesus one-on-one is my more intense experience of Jesus. Jesus walks with me through my daily comings and goings and acts as a mirror to me most frequently for how I should be approaching life. Jesus is the dialog partner to whom my thoughts first turn, and to whom, often in writing, I pose the struggles of my soul in question. Sometimes the answers come through writing, sometimes I just have to keep going. Its somewhat difficult to explain.
But Jesus is the frame for my world, the most important part of it, and the dialog of Christ is the fundamental language my soul speaks. The language of God is more common than that of Christ in the world I live in, which allows me to share God on a wider plane, so I treasure those connections in which Christ can be shared.
I felt a deep need to voice this as I start out in what I feel is a new leaf of my life. As confusing as things are in many ways at this juncture, re-affirming Jesus and exploring deeper what the relationship has become… a romance again? a comradery? more devotional? life companion?… I need to re-root myself in it.