Fred and I have had the good fortune of hosting several gatherings on our deck this summer. There has been lots of talking, laughing, good food and camaraderie. The groups have been made up of friends and family, some of whom are Christians, and most of whom are not. I’ve been struck by how much I’ve enjoyed entertaining these people and what wholesome fun we’ve had. It’s caused me to consider again, what separates me from those who don’t know Christ? Why do I choose to “do life” with Jesus? Certainly it’s not for moral superiority. I know we are all flawed, and some of these folk may hide all manner of sinful behaviour, but on the surface they are “good people”. They pay their taxes, stay out of jail and feed their children. They play fair, say “thank you” and offer to help with dishes. In fact, they remind me of the Rich Young Man described in Matthew 19. All of their lives they have behaved well and tried to be good. Like the Rich Young Man, they may even sometimes wonder about God. Occasionally I sense this, but I’m met with deep resistance when I mention being a Christian. I wonder why.
What makes me different? Why have I decided to embrace God, and not reject Him? I think the single biggest reason would simply be that I need Him. It seems like it’s not okay these days to confess our neediness. Independence and self-reliance are highly prized in North American culture, and to admit to brokenness and vulnerability is viewed as tremendously weak. I’m okay with that. I AM broken, vulnerable and weak, and I do need to live my life with Jesus because I simply can’t make it on my own. “I can do it myself” is the motto of our world, yet it is exactly the opposite of what God wants. Christians are to rely completely on God (John 15:5) and to embrace the value of community with other Christians (Acts 2:46). There are no lone wolves in Christianity. We need God and we need each other.
The Rich Young Man was also asked to give up his tremendous wealth in order to follow Jesus, a prospect I suspect scares many people–including some Christ-followers! But I do believe the perceived loss of control–the notion of having to answer to somebody other than ourselves–is what keeps many people from Jesus. I think it also keeps many who know Him from knowing Him more fully. Christians must learn to fully trust God and to die to self. This truth alone keeps many “good” people from living a life with Jesus.
Do you REALLY believe living with Jesus is the best way to live? I do. And I also know that just living a good life isn’t what Jesus wants. He wants me to give myself fully to Him, recognize without Him I can do nothing, and rely on His strength in my life. I don’t care if my neighbours think I’m weak. I simply cannot get through life without Jesus.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, we all need you. We need to recognize your deep love for us and trust that whatever comes to us, you will never leave us. Help us to learn, daily, to give ourselves to you and to live as if we truly believe that choosing life with you is infinitely better than life without you. Amen.
Contributed by Karen Vine