Jesus Is Not Jeeves; Time To Do Away With Divine Personal Savior and Personal Valets

Reach out and touch faith 
Your own Personal Jesus 
Someone to hear your prayers 
Someone who cares 
Your own Personal Jesus 
Someone to hear your prayers 
Someone who’s there 

–Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus

I grew up in a tradition where people were encouraged to accept Jesus as their “personal savior.” What is interesting about that is that tradition also takes a very literal view of the Bible, and would say that our theology must be based on the Bible. However, the words “personal savior” never appear in either the NRSV  or the NIV versions of the Bible. 

Actually that last sentence is not totally true. The word personal does appear in the NRSV: A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion. (Proverbs 18:2) and a few times in the NIV, most notably John 7:18: Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. And the NIV does refer to personal servants. But never to a personal savior. 

And there is the problem. When we refer to Jesus as a personal savior, we almost always end up making Jesus our personal servant. 

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Since when did “Jesus is Lord,” the earliest confession of the early church, turn into “Jesus is my gentleman’s gentleman”? While it is true that Jesus did come to earth to be your Lord, he is not your Personal Lord, nor is he your Personal Savior. Jesus is Savior of the World, and came to save all people. And that is the other problem. When we make Jesus a personal savior, we make a very parochial god. While we do not mean to, we usually end up thinking that as personal savior, Jesus came to save people me, and by extension, people like me, and by further extension, only people like me.  That Jesus came to save Africans, convicts, drunkards, Presbyterians, homosexuals, and Baptists seems to escape us. 

So why use a non-biblical term where the Bible is very clear. Jesus is Lord. Not a personal savior.  Clearly Jesus is a savior, and does save individuals, but he came, not for individuals but for all humanity. For God so loved the world

 

I believe Jesus hears our prayers. I believe Jesus saves us. But I believe he saves US, not just me. I need other people to be saved, so that I can be saved with them. We are not alone. That is the great message of love that is found in the Gospel. But I am not loved alone. I share the love of God with all humanity.

Often I that find harder to stomach, but that is what is behind those radical sayings of Jesus, sayings like: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’   But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,   that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.   If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?   And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?   Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

About tmrichmond3

I am the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Medford, Oregon. I believe that faith should be able to sustain us, not oppress us.
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One Response to Jesus Is Not Jeeves; Time To Do Away With Divine Personal Savior and Personal Valets

  1. Marthanne G Dedrick says:

    I could not agree more.

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