The Christian walk requires more than just a two-way dialogue between the individual believer and Jesus. We often hear the phrase, “I don’t believe (or need) organized religion.” My response is generally something along the line, “So, you would prefer disorganized religion?” You can only have one or the other. Whenever two or more people come together for any purpose, there must be shared understandings for their gathering to have any meaning and hence some kind of organization. Someone must set a time, there must be guidelines for interaction, and there has to be a shared language/vocabulary for sharing ideas.
The problem with the Just Me and Jesus approach to faith is that each day as one crawls out of bed, the tenets of one’s faith can shift depending on one’s mood and whims of desire. There are no reality checks, no doctrine by which one’s current understandings can be measured, and no informed dialogue with others who are travelling along the same path. There is no basis by which to interpret perceived consolations (those times we feel especially close to God) and desolations (when we feel God is not responding to our prayers or needs.) All believers need the input of brothers and sisters in Christ to avoid spiritual narcissism and to develop an understanding of how God relates to individuals, the Church, and all people He wants to bring to salvation.
But here’s the crux of the matter… (Get it? 😉 “Crux” as in “Cross”)
Jesus, himself, was not a solo act. He was and is and always will be the Son of the Father. And, the Holy Spirit lives and acts at the intersection of their love. Our faith relationship with Jesus exists as part of the relationship among the divine Trinity. We are created to be in relationships. In relationship with the triune God and in relationship with others who are also struggling to become the people God created them to be. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, your mind, and your soul, AND to love your neighbor as yourself. One cannot ignore the second part of this commandment and assume one’s relationship with Jesus is on track.
It would make the Christian calling easier if it were all about only “Me and Jesus,” but it was never intended to be a duet. The Christian walk is more akin to being part of a symphony of many, each contributing their unique gifts. As the Conductor leads all of the players to come together to build something more than any individual player could do alone, each player must be aware and sensitive to the gifts and needs of all of the others.
Back to the “Crux.” The cross has two bars. One is vertical and can be thought of as pointing to the relationship between heaven and earth or more specifically between Jesus and the believer. But, it is no cross without the second bar. In this context, the horizontal bar can symbolize the relationships among those of us on earth who are learning how to bring Christ to the world.
The Me and Jesus approach to faith is counter to the life to which God is calling us. As one hand reaches out to Jesus the other hand must reach out to others.
Not “Me and Jesus,” but rather “Christ through us.”