Over the years, I've had a variety of relationships with Jesus. Before I discuss that, let me share where I am at this moment with Jesus.
I think that God showed up in the form of Jesus to show us what He/She is like so that we don't have to infer from varied writings. What did the life of Jesus show us about God? Some of the things that Jesus shows me are the following.
God cares about us & is involved in our lives. God can heal us. God doesn't desert even the lowliest of us. No one is excluded from the possibility of being in relationship with God. Life is not limited to the earthly body - there is life after death. If we do what Jesus taught us to the best of our abilities, we are saved from ourselves, from darkness, from evil. We are to be part of the body of Christ & live Christed lives. He asked us to do greater things than he did by following his model. Each of us can be a face of God to others, however imperfectly, or we can be a face of evil. Each of us has freewill to make that choice, but it is not a one time choice. It is a choice that can be made at any time & for many of us, it has to be made more than once, maybe a huge number of times. A brief look at the 1st disciple's lives shows us how easy it is to fall away, yet how easily we are welcomed back in love.
As a child, I had a deeply intimate relationship with Jesus. I wore out several New Testaments with my reading & also underlining in colored pencils & pens. I still have one that I won in a Bible reading contest when in Junior High. It is colored with my underlinings, some of which have run due to my tears dropping upon the pages. It sits in olive wood carved hands that we bought in the Olive Wood Factory in Bethlehem a number of years ago.
I started to have a challenge in my relationship with Jesus when I was about 12. We had moved to the East Whittier United Presbyterian Church because my mother was upset with the new Methodist minister who did not believe in hell. (Interesting because by the time she was very old, she deemed herself an atheist! She passed at the age of 93.) The church started out as an old brown church uptown Whittier, but built a new church on 2nd Street in East Whittier. I recall vividly a terrifying sermon one Sunday about how we were all sinners & were going to hell. I sat one afternoon in the sanctuary, looking at the beautiful stained glass window of Jesus. I cried my heart out & asked repeatedly out loud, "Please tell me what I've done wrong. I'll change, really I will. I just don't know what I've done wrong!" No answer came. I was heartbroken & a little wedge was placed in my relationship.
I kept trying to be good. I led our youth group to adopt a Korean War orphan. I rolled bandages for the lepers. I got $5 a week allowance for cooking & cleaning & sent $10 a month to CARE because I heard $5 would feed a family of 4 for a month in Africa. I tried to do everything that Jesus told me to do to the best of my understanding. I was active in church & the youth group. One of my backhanded compliments from my mother many years later was, "You've always been so spiritual, it scares me."
Then I went to college. I read "Man and His Gods" by Homer Smith. I was shocked to read of the development of religions, including my own. I began to wonder if the Presbyterians were telling me the Truth. I was having a painful paradigm shift. I read as much as I could get my hands on.
A big turning point was one day back at the East Whittier United Presbyterian Church, a newly ordained woman said to me, "Marlene you are so spiritual, you should go to Africa to save the people there." It struck me strange, & I said, "You mean some goodhearted woman who is a good mother, good wife, good neighbor is going to hell because she's not a Presbyterian?" She answered, "Yes, isn't that sad?" Something in me rose up with great force, & I answered her, "No, that's crazy!" I walked into the church office & withdrew my membership. My father was aghast. He'd been the church treasurer for years & years. I think things were never quite the same between us after that.
I wandered around for quite a few years, disillusioned. How I traveled spiritually back is far too long to tell today. I'll save that for another day. How about sharing your story too?