A few years ago when Joel Osteen wrote his book “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” I was more than a little dismayed at his transparently “temporal” and “self-centered” approach to Christian living. I believe the title of Joel’s book gives evidence to a heretical teaching in 21st century “American” Christianity: defining the abundant life as personal happiness on earth. (And just how would that resonate with the Somali woman recently martyred for her faith in Christ?) http://dyingtoliveabundantlife.blogspot.com/2011/01/but-what-price-will-we-pay-to-follow.html
Given that America’s value of individuality and pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the constitution, I am not surprised that the phrase “personal savior” has assumed a place in our Christian terminology. But you will not find this phrase anywhere in Scripture. While I do believe our relationship with Jesus is very personal, it behooves us to examine what we mean by the word “personal.” One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for “personal” is “something intended for private use or use by one person—something that belongs only to one person.” Like having a private chef!
If we are going to use the word "personal" in relation to our Lord, then let us be careful that we are not, as Paul described, “people [who]are not serving Christ our Lord; [but] serving their own personal interests” for at the end of life on earth, “each of us will have to give a personal account to God” (Ro. 16:18; 14:12 NLT).