Something that my husband recently made me aware of is that the idea of a personal relationship with God is not something universally taught to all Christians. I kind of look at him dumbfounded at the idea of not thinking of my faith as a relationship. For I have always, since I can remember thought of my faith as a relationship with my creator. For my husband who grew up in China this was not how the Christian faith was portrayed. Rather he was told the story of the Bible and asked if he believed in this God and that Jesus had died for his sins. He said he believed and that was that.
So I have thought to myself huh? Is that so? I am not really sure where the concept of relationship came from. When I thinking about the Bible, Jesus does not use the word personal relationship and similarly when I read the Paul’s letters to the churches he does not use this terminology either. But I do believe that a personal relationship with our creator through Jesus is biblical. If you look at the Bible as a whole, look at all the stories on an individual level but also the whole story of the Bible from start to finish it is all about God’s relationship with humanity. Everything is about relationship on some level.
For the Bible shares stories about God’s relationship with individual humans, with nations, with people groups and with the body of Christ, ie the church.
In America we are a very individualistic society that teaches independence with self fulfillment as the ultimate goal. Therefore the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus resonates with most people. I think there is one potential issue with this thinking. If taken out of context it has a tendency to miss the absolute importantance if connection with the body of Christ and community. For me I see a personal relationship with Jesus as 2 part. Part 1 relationship with God and part 2 relationship with the body of Christ. For both are equally important and necessary.
For my husband who comes from an Asia culture things are reversed. Most Asian culture preach community, unity of people and the opposite of individualism. It is the opposite of American thinking in almost every way. Much like American thinking this other extreme without there being any individual relationship with the creator is not healthy in my opinion.
Overall I am reminded what a wonderful pairing my husband and I are from a cultural perspective, spiritual perspective and personality. For it is the bringing together of the personal relationship with the creator on an individual and community level that is most biblical from my understanding.