The Personal Relationship
It is the personal relationship which counts. You may know a man, or know about him, but if you have no personal relationship with him the acquaintance is of little value. Sometimes we call it having things in common, which does not mean mere possessions. Indeed there may be no possessions; but to have the same interests, aims, desires and understanding. This makes the tie that binds and constitutes true friendship. We may have many acquaintances, but a real personal relationship with none of them. And it is this which makes life rich. How poor is that man who may have many acquaintances, possessions without number, but no true friends.
You see, “we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25. We have individuality, but our lives are not individual separate units. This is why solitary confinement is so great a punishment. There is no fellowship. Yet many out of jail live in solitary confinement — many acquaintances, but no friends, no one to whom to turn.
It is the personal relationship which counts. And it is this personal relationship, with a divine Person, which becomes life eternal, which does not mean immortality which all have, good or bad, but something fuller, deeper, richer, which begins right now. And that is what the Lord Jesus Christ said: “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. As it is with others, so it may be with God. We may know about Him, believe there is a God, but have no personal relationship with Him.
Now that is the wonder of the Incarnation, which means God manifest in the flesh. He visited this earth in His Son that we might have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ came to reveal unto us the Father. (John 14:9). Of course, you may say that He lived here over nineteen hundred years ago and we never saw Him. But that is the wonder of it all. He was raised from the dead and ever liveth. (Hebrews 7:25). After all, it is not after the flesh that we really know people, but after the spirit; and He is alive today longing to enter into fellowship with us.
It is the Gospels and Epistles that tell us all about Him. Read them and see. And our knowledge begins at the Cross. There we see He loved us, and bore “our sins in His own body on the tree.” I Peter 2:24. How marvelous! You see, there can be no personal relationship without love. That is true in human relationship, and it is true in the divine relationship. When we understand how He loves us then we love Him, and the personal relationship is established, and eternal life begins.
We may never have a real personal relationship with many, but if we do not have a personal relationship with Him we have lost the summum bonum, the highest good, and are eternally lost. We may be church members, very orthodox and do good deeds, but if that relationship does not exist He will have to say to us, as He said He will say to others, “I never knew you,” Matthew 7:23, which means, of course, that we never knew Him.
He also says, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words.” John 14:23. It is that love which is the dynamic that makes us want to keep them, and that makes Him Lord. When a personal relationship is established with others their personality enters into us; and when we enter into fellowship with God He comes and abides in us. (John 15:4). This is the most wonderful experience, and is LIFE indeed. As John said, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.’’ I John 1:3.
Our Father is longing for this fellowship with you. As Paul said, “That I may know Him.” Philippians 3:10. Do you know Him? A prayerless life does not indicate it; for that is what prayer is, talking with God and having Him talk with us.
Just tell Him all about it today. Tell Him about your sins, your sorrows, your pain and suffering, your longing and desire to be His. See how quickly He will come into your life!
GEORGE W. ARMS, D.D.