Christians, including myself, frequently speak of a “personal relationship” that we have with Christ. I often wondered what people meant when they said, “I have personal relationship with him.” When others asked me about it, I simply said things like “I know him and he knows me”, “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me”, “The relationship between me, as his servant, and him, as my LORD and Savior”, “loving relationship”, and so forth. I believe all of them are exactly what any other Christians mean when they talk about the relationship with Christ. However, God taught me through a particular passage about the relationship we speak of in more vivid way.
Romans 6:4-10 (NIV)
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin – 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In this passage, the apostle Paul wrote about what takes place when a person accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior. When a person accepts Christ, his old-self, which is controlled by the power of sin, dies with Christ’s death on the cross. And, the person receives new life, which is under the Lordship of Christ, completely released from the power of sin, with the resurrection of Christ. The radical change from death to life takes place when we believe Jesus Christ in our hearts as our Lord and Savior. Our union with Christ as believers is the “personal relationship” with him that we speak of.
This fact has a significant implication. Union with Christ that has brought us from death to life has made us new creation of God. Our lives should reflect the change! We cannot be the same as we had been before we met Christ. In the passage we are looking at, we are not necessarily talking about how much or how often we read our Bible, how much we pray, or how much we are involved in church activities. We are talking about whether our lives show the freedom from the power of sin. Are we living as the ones who are under the Lordship of Christ? Are we becoming more and more like Christ?
Paul in verses 11-14 commanded believers to remember the change in the state of our being that occurred when we accepted Jesus Christ and to live as who we are in Christ. We cannot say that we have personal relationship and live as the ones who do not have it. We must be different not only in the ways we participate in religious activities but also in the ways we actually live our lives. Being active in religious activities does not necessarily mean that you have personal relationship with Him!