When I was a younger Christian and Student Minister, I would often emphasize to my students over and over again that “Christianity is a relationship.” Strangely, that was not always a popular thing to say.
In fact, I was often criticized by older pastors who warned me against saying such a thing because it was pietistic, mystical, and based on emotion rather than the firm foundation of scripture. This always confused me.
Everything I read in scripture seemed to say the same thing. In fact, the gospel of John seems to bleed that truth out in every single word.
- “The Word became flesh and dwelt among you.”
- “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
- “(I pray) that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.”
- “For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only Son…”
Certainly, I could go on and on, citing one scripture passage after another that pounds this reality home – “Christianity is a relationship!” To put it in more theological terminology: “The hub and foundation of the Christian faith is Union with Christ – a relationship with God through the person, presence, and work of King Jesus.” The Bible is absolutely bulging with this truth. Yet, I wonder what makes Christians so afraid of this idea. Could it be the idol of control? Could it be that Union with Christ requires daily reliance? Maybe, just as I mentioned earlier, we legitimately fear that emphasizing this idea would indeed cause Christians to stray from God’s Word and become “overly pietistic, mystical, and emotional?” I know that could surely happen. But should we allow our idolatry and fears to shape our theology? Should the fences that we build to keep out bad theology be so thick and armored that they also keep out good theology? No. That’s not the way. If we are going to build our theology on the firm foundation of Scripture, then we must listen to what the Bible says. And it says clearly and loudly – Christianity is a glorious relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 1:30 says, “It is because of Christ that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption.” Notice here that Christ doesn’t simply give us wisdom. Christ is our Wisdom. Christ doesn’t simply give us righteousness. He is our Righteousness. He is our Holiness. He is our Redemption. Christ Himself is our Greatest Gift!
Colossians 1:27 really brings this reality home: “Christ in you, and this is our hope of glory.”
Let me offer an illustration to help you get a fuller picture of what I’m trying to say. My good friend and former co-assistant pastor at Surfside Presbyterian, Justin Woodall, is a really intelligent guy. He has loads of books in his office library. I mean “loads” of books! Now, sometimes people would ask me, “Tim, why don’t you have as many books in your office library as Justin has in his?” I would smile and answer, “Well that’s simple. It’s true that Justin has more books. But you know, I have Justin. Why do I need more books, when I have Justin right across the hall?” Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t read and study for myself. Certainly I should. But, at the end of the day, I had a guy who is much smarter than me right across the hall to help me understand what I read and studied, and quite frankly, he reads books that I would never even pick up! They’re just too thick! Now, in similar fashion, yet in far greater measure, just as I have Justin right across the hall, we Christians ALL have Christ. We have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling inside of us! Isn’t that fantastic! We have an incredibly intimate relationship with the most wise, loving, beautiful, glorious, powerful, and gracious person in the universe!
So then, when we need wisdom, we need to remember that we have Christ. Christ is our Wisdom. He doesn’t simply give us “wisdom” as a possession. He gives us Himself! Christian, think about what a great gift we have in Jesus. He is closer than our closest friend. He can hear our every whisper. He knows our every pain. He listens to our faintest cry. He is not just right beside us. He is in us. And we are in Him! So then, we don’t need wisdom, or righteousness, or holiness, or redemption, or anything else apart from Christ. Instead, we need Christ to be our Wisdom, to be our Righteousness, to beour Holiness, and to be our Redemption. Christ is our Salvation. Indeed, our hope and our glory is that we have a relationship with the King of all Creation. Rest today in that wonderful truth.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand