Why do I need Jesus to have a relationship with God? Isn’t it possible to have a relationship with God prior to coming to know about Jesus?
It’s true that one can have a relationship with God before knowledge of Jesus. The reason for this is that it’s possible to arrive at some degree of knowledge of God without divine revelation. But such a relationship is going to be strained for several reasons.
First, the knowledge that we can have of God by the natural light of reason is very limited. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, there are certain things about God that surpass the grasp of our reason. And if God is our ultimate end, and we need to know our ultimate end in order to direct our thoughts and actions to him, then it’s necessary for our salvation that God tell us those things about himself that exceed human reason (see Summa Theologiae, I:1:1).
Second, when left to ourselves, we often have erroneous views about God. Of course, it’s possible to know certain truths about God by reason alone. But it’s often the result of long and hard work and is mixed with error.
Being in relationship with Jesus allows for us to know these truths with ease and to know them without error. As Aquinas says, this brings about our salvation “more fitly and more surely” (ST, I:1:1). With greater knowledge about the one we love comes greater love, especially when the one we love is absolute perfection and goodness itself.
A third reason why our relationship with God would be strained without Jesus is the presence of sin. Without Jesus, we would be left in our sin, which always impedes intimacy with God.
Fourth, we would be left in the dark on how to appropriately worship God and foster our relationship with him. With the advent of Jesus, and the revelation of the sacrifice of the Mass that he gives at the Last Supper, we know how to worship God in a way that is pleasing to him.
Finally, our relationship with Jesus can only enhance our relationship with God because Jesus is God. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Through him, we have access to the inner Trinitarian life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. St. Peter sums it up:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3-4).