“All you need is Jesus.”
Ever heard that phrase? In the evangelical world that I consider myself a part of, this phrase is constantly proclaimed as the very essence of the Christian faith. All I need is my personal relationship with Jesus. Everything else may be helpful, but not necessary to live out my Christian faith. I know I have preached the same message. I’ve offered that message as counsel. I’ve even lived this message in my Christian faith.
But is that all that there is to it? I don’t think so.
As a culture dominated by radical individualism and consumerism, we first look to our personal needs and then arrange our lives in such a way that those needs are met and satisfied.
This thinking has been imported into the evangelical church especially with its emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus. A personal relationship with Jesus is, in a sense, very important for maturing and growing faith, but it is not enough for a maturing and growing faith.
We need something deeper than an individual relationship with one person of the Trinity for us to grow in the gospel.
God and Us
You won’t find the phrase a personal relationship with Jesus anywhere in the Scripture. Jesus Himself isn’t even primarily concerned that people only know Him. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Jesus points people beyond Himself to God the Father to show whose will He was truly carrying out on earth.
Jesus later laid out the importance of the final person of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—in John 14:26 by saying “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
Jesus was telling His followers that the Holy Spirit is the one who will keep pointing you back to Jesus. It’s the Trinitarian God who is working in and through us to grow us in our love for Jesus and each other.
The Trinitarian God is the foundation for the community God is forming through the church. God saves us individually, but He saves us into a family to do life with on a deeper level.
It can be easy to retreat from deep community—in college and as a young adult—and to settle for a few fragmented relationships, disconnected from the church. A personal Bible study is good and necessary, but it’s not sufficient for a vibrant spiritual transformation.
Let me encourage you to grow your heart and mind as you behold the majestic beauty of the Trinitarian God throughout the story of Scripture, and run into (not away from) the messy and beautiful community called the church—individuals called to be part of a family glorifying God and loving the world together.
R.D. McClenagan is the student ministries pastor and one of the teaching pastors at Door Creek Church in Madison, Wis. He and his wife, Emily Grace, live in Madison with their increasingly adorable twin baby daughters Maisie and Camille. Follow R.D. via Twitter.