My Spiritual Life Class met on Tuesday. This week I opened with the question:
Define relationship. What are some characteristics of a relationship?
The class immediately shot off characteristics of relationships. We put together a pretty good list. But, when we moved to a definition of a relationship, the room got quiet. Eventually we hammed out something like "Two or more 'things' mutually interacting, connecting, and sharing with one another in varying degrees of commonality."
Fair enough. It's not poetic, but it articulates the main elements of a relationship.
I then asked:
One of the main metaphors for the Christian experience is "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." We often say, "Christianity is not a religion; it's a relationship." What do we mean by that?
Can our experience of God be called a relationship according to the definition above? I have a relationship with my wife. I have a different kind of relationship with my boss. I use the same word "relationship" to describe my experience with both people. How are they both relationships? How are they different? Can I say that I have a relationship with God? If so, it certainly looks different than my relationship with my boss, not to mention my relationship with my wife.
Given that the phrase "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is not in the Bible, should we abandon the metaphor, or is there a way to justify it?
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