You Don’t Know Jesus

Posted on April 28, 2011 by

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There seem to be days or series of days that run on a theme.  Whether this is the result of a mental filter which flags items of interest or a serendipitous alignment of events, moments in life seem to just fit together like panels in a comic books.  Later in life, not unlike the aforementioned comic panels, you can’t remember the specific events, but you remember how it ends.  This last weekend it was this: you don’t know Jesus.

I was chatting with a young friend across the country on Friday about how we keep from sinning.  A particular fan of the Socratic Method, I hounded him for the answers I was sure he already had.  How do you keep from sinning?  Read your Bible. Pray. Go to church. Have good friends.  After a few more minutes, I sensed that perhaps we had wandered into a field of sweetly wafting platitudes and changed tack.  Why shouldn’t you sin?  Because it’s wrong.  Because I’m a Christian and God does not like it.  So why are you sinning?  I don’t know.  Because I like it.  Because it seems like God doesn’t care.  Because I don’t think about it when I’m doing it.

It occurred to me that my young friend found himself in a situation not unfamiliar to many  us who bear the name of Christ.  The reasons not to sin existed solely within the confines of his mind.  Opposing that are the powerful combination of his emotions and will chained irrevocably to his flesh.  Top that off with the minds utterly squirrely ability to explain away even the most heinous of crimes and he stood about as much chance against sin as a pudgy princess to a hungry dragon.

Easter Morning, Resurrection Sunday, my pastor preached on the resurrection of Lazarus.  At one point in the story, Martha comes to Christ as he nears the town and the following exchange occurs:

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  – John 11:23-24

Martha, like my young friend, gave a spot on answer, but completely missed the point.  Christ’s response is very telling.

 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.  – John 11:25-27

In so many words Christ asked her: do you know me? Again, Martha’s response was spot on, more so than probably most in her day.  She knew /who/ Christ was, but did she really/ know/ Him?

I think perhaps this is the disconnect which occurs for many Christians.  Like Martha, they know all the right answers.   Sadly, unlike Martha who later that day met Christ beyond the facts, many young Christians have never experienced Jesus.  They spend their young lives attempting to conjure up an emotional connection to their faith be it through exciting music or challenging sermons or fun fellowship, all the while failing to fill that God shaped hole.  As often as we’ve heard it, we have to grasp it: Christianity is not a religion but a (singular) relationship.

A little over a year ago, I remember being brought suddenly to tears on my way to the office by the thought that Jesus Christ is my friend.  In a moment of life changing epiphany, Christ went from an idea to a person.  My time in the Bible became exciting as I realized this was Jesus Christ speaking to me.  I prayed with a reality previously non-existent as I talked to him about my day and concerns and needs.  The neighbors funny dog was like that goofy email your best friend sent you just because and that delicious meal was a personal gift because Jesus cared about me.  For the first time in my life, Christ was a real person to me.  I caught just a glimpse of the real Jesus and it changed my life forever.

Let me illustrate my point.  Like most young men going through the hormonal maelstrom of your late teens and early twenties, I struggled with lust.  A walk through the mall any given day was like bad acupuncture.  I couldn’t go to the beach or swimming without feeling like I needed to sandpaper my brain for the next few weeks.  Then I fell in love.

After Jessica, I don’t even notice immodesty.  Sitting across the table from her can feel headier than an illicit pass through the adult section at Barnes and Noble.  All I want is her.  She’s real and she loves me.

It should be the same way with Jesus.  If we can ever begin to grasp who He is and who we are to Him, so much of what we struggle with would simply fade away.  If we can love Him like we say we do; if we can believe in His reality like we do every other human being we meet on planet Earth; if we can get Jesus out of our heads and into our lives; then this Christian life will work. How this actually happens to you will be as unique as any physical relationship, but I can guarantee you will never know the peace, the joy, the freedom Christ intended for his own until you know Jesus beyond the facts.  It’s just that simple.

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