Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

No, He’s MY Personal Jesus

By Peter Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 24, 2006

Most people don’t know how to have a friendship with Jesus, because it runs contrary to our human experiences. When a human has a friendship, he consciously or subconsciously draws the other person to himself. We try to change our friends just as we try to emulate them—in adoption of liked or eradication of disliked qualities.

The problem with friendship with Jesus is that we can’t change Him; we can only emulate Him. And because of this, we can’t have the exchange with Jesus that we have with our other friends. The banter of common interests and shared plans seems strange without this passive or active exchange in which we discuss the merits and weaknesses of our various habits and interests, trying to influence the mind of our friend or seek to be influenced by him. Jesus is unchangeable.

This “problem” naturally has its solution in the recognition of who Jesus is (God) and of the primary nature of our relationship with God: to be perfected as He is perfect.

Therefore, we must cease to consider our friendship with God as we consider our other friendships, and pursue a relationship with Jesus as a search for Truth, and then seek to bring ourselves into conformity with Him. In the course of doing so, we fall in love with Jesus; love and intimacy with our Creator and Redeemer is founded on the acknowledgement of His Divinity.

If we are astute, we also attempt to redefine and cultivate our human friendships by exercising virtues that exemplify this love to others.

However, this doesn’t stop the vast majority of us from trying to coerce Jesus to conform Himself to our own desires. Those persons who have progressed far enough on the path to sanctity recognize this as a weakness and take steps to counteract these tendencies. Those who have embraced the path but are not so far along are less aware of their failings.

Those who have not embraced the path at all continue to redefine Jesus more and more thoroughly, until Jesus resembles them more than He resembles God.

This is why a faithful Catholic can speak nonchalantly with other faithful Catholics of a friendship with Jesus and feel nothing akin to the revulsion that he experiences when he hears a dissident Catholic wax eloquent about it. A sad consequence of this is that casual observers may feel that the faithful Catholic scoffs at those who feel a friendship, or personal relationship with Jesus, is even possible. On the contrary, the faithful Catholic would like nothing more than a fervent personal relationship with Christ. He just doesn’t like the language being misappropriated for the speaker’s own purposes—because the kind of friendship referred to by the dissident leads not to Truth but to Falsity. Much has been made in liberal pop psychology of accepting friends and family for who they really are. Of course we have to recognize who they are, because to do anything else would be a denial of the truth. However, if acceptance in this case implies more than acknowledgment, then that we cannot do. All are imperfect as they currently are, and therefore we must desire that they do not remain so.

Considering Jesus, however, not only must we recognize who He is, but we also must accept who He is. We cannot take Jesus simply as our friend or brother and ask Him to behave as our earthly friends and siblings might. We must also consider that Jesus is Priest, Prophet, King and Wisdom.

Otherwise, we will have a failed Jesus, because we fail. We will have an imperfect Jesus, because we are imperfect. We will have a Jesus who did not recognize His own divinity, because we ourselves cannot recognize it.

We will have a false friendship with a Jesus of our own making, rather than an abiding love with a sacred Lord who is worthy of all our devotion.

Peter Mirus is a business, marketing, and technology consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with companies and nonprofits, ranging from start-ups to large international organizations. From 2004-2014 he contributed articles on the Catholic Faith, culture, and business to the website.
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