The ache intensifies…

I am more confused and frustrated than ever.

I have tried to seek out answers to some of my theological questions and doubts recently. In doing so, I came across a good apologetics website, that had a bunch of teaching videos on theological issues, so I watched a few. They were pretty good and got me really thinking. But a remark in one video struck me with particular force, considering my struggles lately. The guy teaching mentioned that having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is actually not Biblical. It is more of a “westernized” phrase. The guy pointed out how a lot of cultural assumptions influence our theology. And here in the US, and other western nations, we have very individualistic societies, as opposed to the collectivistic societies of Bible times and other modern-day nations like China. So, during the early church, for example, having a “personal” relationship with Jesus was a completely foreign concept. Knowing and following Jesus was a communal thing. Which makes perfect sense when you read the book of Acts.

Of course, that’s not to say none of us are to endeavor to know and follow Christ individually–there are plenty of examples throughout the Scriptures of those who walked with God and knew Him on a personal level. Such as Enoch, Abraham, King David, the prophets, and the apostle Paul just to name a few. But no one, especially within the church, is to have that personal walk with God in a vacuum. Yet here in the US, and other western nations, we focus so much on the personal aspect of a walk with God, that we do tend to often put it in a vacuum.

And so suddenly I’m wondering if that’s part of my problem. That because of my cultural background and influences I’m putting my relationship with God in a vacuum, so to speak. Even as there is, at the same time, an ache in my heart for community with believers and a rebellion against the individualistic society I’m a part of. Naturally, this war, or tension, within myself is utterly confusing and exasperating. While I won’t argue with the fact that a “personal relationship with Jesus” is a cultural concept, I think it’s nonetheless Biblical to have, at some level, an individual relationship with Him. We have to, at some level. My confusion lies in where does the individual relationship end and the corporate relationship begin? If God is all I need, then why did God say of Adam (in his perfect, not-yet-fallen state no less), “It is not good for the man to be alone”? And why is the church urged not to forsake assembling together? Clearly, we need each other. Clearly, in some capacity, Christ leaves us incomplete if we need each other. So how does this reconcile with the verses that tell us we are complete in Christ?

I just can’t quite figure all this out. And meanwhile this ache and void in my heart just continues to grow. Because, more than anything, I want intimacy. And I don’t know how to have intimacy with Jesus, because as much as He might care for me, it doesn’t feel like intimacy to me when ultimately I know I’m just a small and insignificant part of His larger Body. And I currently still don’t have intimacy within that Body either, leaving me feeling desolately alone most of the time. Then there’s the desire for intimacy with a husband, that also goes unfulfilled.

So I ache. Desperately. And suddenly I don’t know where to turn to fix that ache. I can’t fix the ache within the church. I can’t fix the ache with a husband. And most frightening of all, right now I can’t fix the ache with God either.

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4 thoughts on “The ache intensifies…

  1. There should be a “Sympathize” button or something like that. For a post like this “Like” just doesn’t cut it. Well, I suppose that’s why the Almighty made comment boxes. So, I sympathize, April. We are saved as households, we work out our salvation communally as fellow believers, and we struggle with our longings alone. It’s a confounding predicament we’re left in here.

    • Thanks, Virgil. It is definitely a “confounding predicament.” I like how you put that. And it’s comforting that I’m not alone in my predicament, as much as I wish that were not the case. I’m just wrestling with a lot of stuff right now. Hopefully I’ll make peace with my questions/frustrations at some point.

  2. I definitely think God wants an intimate personal relationship with each person individually (the Psalms! That was David and God one on one!) – and I think the community is where we live out that relationship (love one another, serve one another, etc). We have accountability, we are sharpened and challenged – but it doesn’t take the place of our individual union with Christ. Christ went off to pray ALONE. We are one with Him and one with each other. Both aspects are important. I whole-heartedly believe that first, our hearts needs to be filled with Him alone, first. Our fellowship with believers flows from that. My two cents. Praying He helps you get clarity. But I know that He wants that intimacy with you PERSONALLY!

    • Thank you for the encouraging words, Kate. I can intellectually agree with everything you say, but at the same time my heart asks a million more questions on HOW intimacy with Christ is really possible. Maybe I don’t really understand what that intimacy is supposed to look like. Maybe I’m hoping for/wanting too much. I’m not really sure.

      Hopefully all this “wrestling” is just a phase. I hope too that I get some clarity. Your prayers are certainly appreciated.

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