Two Letters on John Suk’s Essay

Dear Folks:

Thank you for the thought-provoking essay on A Personal Relationship with Jesus? [by John Suk, November 2005]. Every time I confess I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I have been ignoring my conscience, which says otherwise. And I have drawn disapproving stares when I confess I do not get “goose pimples” whenever the Holy Spirit leads me. So now I am empowered to speak the truth!

I am also empowered to widen my focus away from myself and toward God and my neighbours. It is good to know that life is bigger than my shortcomings and my country’s problems and that I am part of a great movement toward the return of our Lord Jesus Christ who loves me and will right every wrong and reward every right! Praise His name!

–Colin Phillip Martin
Sunday school teacher
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Dear Editors:

As I read John Suk’s article the first time, I found myself largely agreeing with the author’s points, especially his statement in the final paragraph that “the language of personal relationship is always ambiguous and inexact, meaning whatever the speaker happens to mean… .” We have entered, signifi- cantly, into a consumerist, make-Jesus-fityour- size mentality. However, I then read it a second time. I am reminded why we need to read and re-read things to make certain we have gotten the message.

The author seems bound and determined to live in an either/or world. He makes his points by implying that his view and that of others are mutually exclusive: “Biblical language that emphasizes God’s transcendence is replaced by language that emphasizes God’s immanence.” Last time I looked, both sorts of language are found in Scripture. ”I think that rather than focusing on ‘personal relationships,’ we need to recover the Psalmist’s language of lament….” Why must they be exclusive? “The design of Christ’s new creation is far too grand, too inclusive to be restricted to what happens inside my soul.” True, but who says we have to restrict it? Again, can it not be “both/and”? In his prayer beginning at Ephesians 3:14, the Apostle Paul seems to indicate that the human soul (inner person) needs to be strengthened in order to become what it is meant to be, namely, the dwelling place of Christ.

Rather than throw out the desire (and reality) of relating personally with Jesus, perhaps we need to equip, enable, and empower believers to be more authentic and transparent about all of life. As one person has said, “Where there’s life, there’s bugs.” However, some people want to make it appear otherwise. So, I should stop talking about relating to Jesus because some people tell lies and hide the truth? Sorry, but Suk’s article did not stand up well in my second and third readings.

–Rick Cruse
OC International
Worthing, United Kingdom