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There are some phrases that are used so often and so casually that they flow from our lips like a single word. One such phrase is the one about our need to have a "personal relationship with Christ".

Such phrases have become popular largely because they are so relevant, so powerful, and so true. Without a personal relationship with Christ, all of our theology, and all of our religious observances count for nothing.

But when such phrases are used unthinkingly, more or less as secret passwords to guarantee one's orthodoxy, then they become quite the opposite of their true meaning; they become clichés.

Cliches are truisms which have lost their meaning through overuse. They have become almost swear words, that is, sacred words which are used "in vain".

For most people today, having a personal relationship with Christ means that they went to the front of the crowd in a church meeting at some time in the past and said a little prayer which was guaranteed to give them a place in heaven. It usually means that they have since joined a church and done a reasonable job of fulfilling the duties of members of that organisation.

But is this really a "personal relationship with Christ"? Ask these same people to tell you ten or fifteen things that Jesus told his followers to do, and you'll probably draw a blank.

Mary had a personal relationship with Christ, while Martha did not. Oh, Jesus had visited Martha's house, and she knew him by name, but she was so busy with the "business" of being a gracious hostess that she never found time to sit at his feet and hear what he had to say, the way that Mary did.

How long has it been since you sat at the feet of your Saviour and listened to his words to you?

(See also The Martha Syndrome.)

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