Even though its detractors might say otherwise, the Christian faith is incredibly realistic. It doesn’t offer you life on a bed of roses. Its founder was tortured and crucified; that alone gives you an idea about its seriousness. But isn’t life like this? Isn’t it filled with moments of pain and suffering? If our faith cannot give us meaning to our trials, then it’s only spiritual anesthesia. When a baby is born there is pain and blood. But prior to this there is great hope. And after the suffering, there is new life.
Following Jesus is an opportunity for new life. Jesus can and will help you. However, there’s something vital that you must go through before you can reap the whole benefit of his loving grace.
Let’s take a look at the deal we are getting.
There are common misconceptions that many false teachers sell about Christianity. So before you enter into a bargain, it’s important to know what you won’t be getting. Following Jesus Christ will not:
- Take away all your problems
- Heal you of all illness
- Make you rich
- Protect you from all potential danger
- Give you a life full of happiness without sorrow
None of this comes with the deal. The world tries to sell us peace and prosperity that it can never deliver. People make us all kinds of empty promises. But only God can give us what we really need. He gives us an identity that is unbreakable and eternal. The Gospel of John tells us that all that receive Jesus and believe in his name have the right to be children of God.
Child of God
Through Jesus, you are God’s child. Nobody can ever take this away from you. No amount of hurt, humiliation, failure, rejection or shame can take you out of the Father’s hand. This is your eternal and indestructible identity. This gives you meaning, especially in the darkest moments.
So what do you get out of the deal? Plenty. How about things like:
- A Spirit that guides you
Now it might sound nice, and it is, but wait a minute. Because the first, and most important, bridge we must cross is to get to truth. And truth means seeing yourself as God sees you. How does God see you? He sees you as a sinner redeemed. This means when God sees you, he sees his Son, Jesus. This gives you the right to be God’s child.
Let’s be perfectly honest. All mankind wants to escape blame. We don’t want to admit our faults. We want to blame it on our upbringing or something else. But our fault? So we say we are sick instead of sinful. We try to wash away the blame. In this philosophy we end up with nothing except the risk of losing our identity. Yes, we can explain tendencies, but explanation is not the same as reconciliation. And if we really are sick, where do we find true healing?
The truth is we have all gone against God. In our words, actions, and in our hearts. The natural reaction is to compare. Well, at least I’m not as bad as so-and-so. The age old saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right,” applies here. When we compare we try to make amends for our faults with other mistakes. Just like blaming our upbringing for our errors, we find no real justice. At least not until we assume responsibility. Only then, can Jesus begin to help us, because only then do we walk where he walks, in truth. Here we can begin to see who we truly are.
A Famous Sinner Redeemed
Before the Apostle Paul converted to Christianity, he persecuted Christians. He sought their arrest and even approved of them being put to death. He did all these things in God’s name. He was driven by zeal for his religion. We can imagine he had his religious, family, personal, and cultural reasons for doing what he did. But in the end, who was to blame for his actions? Whose conscience did he go against?
One day, Paul (named Saul before his conversion) was on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians when Jesus appeared to him. Saul fell to the ground, his face in the dirt, and he heard a voice that said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” Jesus answered. After this encounter, Saul was left speechless, blind and not able to eat or drink for three days. This is repentance. And within this challenge rests a seed of great hope and a pearl of infinite value (Matthew 13:45-46).
Saul realized that everything in his life had been misguided up until that point. Misguided because he thought his conduct could get him into heaven. Misguided because he justified his wrongdoing on a thousand other factors instead of taking the blame. When this all came to the light, Saul was left mute and blind, unable to eat.
I remember my first prayer as an adult. It was a prayer of repentance. I cried my eyes out with my face on the floor because my life had been all wrong up until then. And in this prayer that came from the depths of my soul, I held out my hands. There, God poured out all his kindness and tenderness upon me. He welcomed his child home again with open, loving arms.
God measures – and heals – the heart
No matter how good you think you are, relative to others, toss that out for a second. Look into your heart. What do you see? Have you sinned? Have you ever dishonored your parents, siblings, children or friends? Yourself? Have you ever lied, cheated or stolen? Taken the Lord’s name in vain? What excuse do you make in front of God, your Creator and the one that gives you life?
What’s a person capable of in order to avoid the truth? We see the atrocities around us day after day. In our own families and lives, how many times have we seen an entire existence being sustained to support a lie?
But wait. God gives you the answer. He says:
Tell it all to me. I already know it all, but tell it. Let me hear it and let it pierce your heart. Only then can I enter and free you. Only then can I heal you. Repent. Say it all; confess it all to me. And each and every offense, I will forgive. Each and every time you went against me, I will place squarely on my Son for you, because I love you. And I love my Son, who is exalted above all others for bearing the sins of the world. Tell it all to me then take my hand and step into the sweet pastures of truth and light.
Earlier we said that God sees us as sinners, but as sinners redeemed. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Truth. See yourself as God sees you. As his child who he loves dearly. A child he loves so much that he wants you to be like his Son. In fact, God the Father clothes you with the grace and forgiveness of his Son.
God never runs out of patience in giving you another chance. Imagine yourself at peace with God. To make this a reality, all you have to do is speak the truth.
Meditate on this. How does it makes you feel?
Let God’s grace take root in your soul.
This post is an excerpt from Vince’s book, Is Jesus Real? Can Jesus Help Me?