Monday, May 19, 2014

Who is this Jesus, Really?

Last week I wrote a post directed to the Church. When I posted the link on Facebook, I made a promise to those who don’t follow Christ to write a follow-up post this week centered on who Jesus really is.

I think much of the problem today (specifically in America) is we have created this false Jesus in our minds. He’s hip and cool and loves to make everyone happy and give them things. Trouble is, he’s not the real deal. This false Jesus is what we cling to in order to make ourselves feel better. “He says not to judge!” we yell as we point to a cardboard cutout of a man with long-hair and pretty brown eyes holding up a peace sign with a rainbow in the background.

No, the real Jesus is many things, but one thing He is not is apathetic towards sin. After all, He suffered the worst torture that ever has been and ever will be to free us from sin. So why would He be okay with us living in it? Short answer: He wouldn’t. He isn’t. He won’t ever be.

I’m going to try and keep this simple and to the point, but I can’t make any promises. After all, the pursuit of Christ is a lifelong journey and I think I’m just a few steps in to discovering the greatness of who He is.

Before you check out on me, I want to make one thing clear: Jesus does love you.

You who has grown up in a broken home and walked a lonely path of depression. You who loves the taste and smell of alcohol a bit too much. You who has struggled for years with drug addiction. You who has stolen. You who has lied. He loves you. Dearly. His heart aches for you to turn to Him and allow Him to tear down the walls of sin that have taken residence in your soul. He wants to set you free!

I think this is where the disconnect occurs. We love to hear that Jesus loves us! We long to be accepted by someone and loved for who we are. Jesus loves us for who we are, but He does not love what we do when we are still in bondage to sin. We can dance and sing for joy at the fact that Jesus loves us, but if we never turn from our sin and strive to live in His holiness, then the day will come when our bodies will die and we will spend an eternity in hell. We must be purchased by His blood in order for our souls to be redeemed. And let me be perfectly clear: being purchased by His blood will actually cost us something.

Christians love to throw out the phrase: “Accept the free gift of salvation! Just say this prayer…..” We do you an injustice when we say that and nothing else. Because although the price has already been paid for our salvation, saying the prayer and living it out your salvation will mean that you have to make sacrifices. I can’t say what those sacrifices will look like for you specifically, because I do not know you. I can only say this: following Christ means that we lay down whatever standards and morals we think we should follow, and pick up the standards and morals that He has laid out in His Word. In short: we can’t be okay with sin anymore.

Sin is not of God. It cannot be in His presence in heaven. He is pure and holy, and sin is everything He is not. This is why we must be saved in order to enter in His presence. Are we going to be perfect? Nope. We are still human, and we will likely mess up very often. But we can strive to be perfect and holy as He is holy. We should strive to be perfect and holy as He is holy. The beautiful thing is, when we mess up, He is quick to forgive us if we confess that sin to Him. He picks us up, brushes our knees off, and we keep on walking with Him. Our hearts are covered with His blood, and our sins are forgiven. But we have to actually make a conscious effort to not live in sin.

We can’t look at the forbidden fruit, and think to ourselves “it’s okay, He’ll forgive me” and then take a bite. And then continue to take bite after bite while saying to ourselves, “Jesus loves me! No one can judge me for my behavior!” We have to consistently keep our guard up and be in constant communion with our Savior so that our feet do not stray from His path.

And let me be honest: it can be really hard. It will be difficult to fight against what our flesh wants. It will be difficult to choose His way over our own. We will engage in a constant battle against what we want to do and what we should do as long as we are breathing, but through Him we can prevail over sin.  

How do we know what sin is? After all, it’s pretty hard to strive for holiness when we don’t know what holiness actually is. That is why God’s Word is so important to us. His Word contains everything we need to walk with Him. He also sent His Holy Spirit to us to lead us and guide us. The Holy Spirit is our constant comforter and friend. He is quick to convict us when our hearts go astray, we just have to know His voice and be listening for it.

Please understand, this post is not me trying to parade how awesome I am or how much I know about God. Truthfully, I feel like this post is pretty sucky and that I am doing a terrible job explaining this to you. At the end of the day though, I want you to have an understanding of who Jesus is and what following Him means…..not because I want to heap condemnation on your head, but because I want you to find Him and experience His freedom. At the very least, I want you to understand that the Jesus who gets paraded around on social media as being lax about sin isn’t the real thing. Chasing after our sinful desires will only leave us feeling empty and useless, but chasing after God’s heart will bring us more fulfillment and joy than you can ever imagine.

So if you ever see me post something on Facebook that goes against your current behavior or thought pattern, please know that I’m not being hateful towards you. I desperately want you to see the light of Christ….so that you can turn from your sin and be saved from it.

Jesus loves you for who you are, but if you are living in sin you are still lost and on your way to hell. I know it’s harsh, and it may not feel like it’s fair, but it’s the truth. He’s calling out to your heart…..will you listen?  

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~Romans 3:23

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” ~Romans 6:1-4

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

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