Phillip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”
-John 14:8-10 (NLT)
I was having a conversation with someone recently and something was said that just completely floored me. We were discussing the difference between religion and faith, between “organized” religion and relationship. I made the statement that there was a vast difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. This person said, “What’s Jesus got to do with it?”
I’m not sure I could have been more stunned. This person claims to be a Christian. Well, they claim it and they attend a “Christian” church. I probably had some weird look on my face cause they just kinda stopped and said, “What, what did I say?” My response was probably a bit sharp, cause I tend to have a bit of a sharp tongue. I just looked at them, aghast, and said, “What do you mean by ‘what does Jesus have to do with it? Jesus is IT! Are you stoned?”
Maybe it was the ‘are you stoned’ question that made them angry, I’m not sure.
That’s when all this thought process began, so bear with me here. Two thousand years or so ago, the Jews were slaves to an oppressive set of rules and regulations. They were slaves to religion. Then, this man Jesus shows up. He immediately started pissing people off. Seriously, His first sermon almost got Him killed. (Luke 4) The Pharisees, religious elite and other leaders of the people really hated Jesus. They hated Him so much they eventually had Him killed.
I fear that, two thousand years later, we are no better. We have allowed ourselves, in many ways, to become slaves again. We are slaves to our religion, our “churches”, and these edifices we’ve built that we call the church. We have cut Jesus out of the equation again. Seriously, think about it. I know I’m not going to be popular after saying some of this but it’s the truth. We’ve cut Jesus out. Without Him, we are the Pharisees stuck in an enslaving religion. We’ve been stuck in religion so long, we’ve forgotten the Man that this is all about.
Don’t get me wrong, I know why people don’t want to believe in Jesus. Believing in some mystical “God” out there somewhere is way easier. That “God” is not really a person, or so some say. But, Jesus is and was a real person. Believing in Him means you have to follow Him. Believing in Him means you have to change, or more appropriately, allow Him to change you. Belief demands action. Change is scary and action sometimes demands sacrifice.
I get that.
Where I think many people get off base is that they have a misconception of who Jesus is. Let me tell you who Jesus is not. Jesus is not the guy out blowing up abortion clinics. Jesus is not the guy spewing hatred for those different and trying to use scripture to back it up. Jesus is not walking around in a two thousand dollar suit while some of his people starve to death. Jesus is not getting on TV and telling people that you’re not a Christian if you voted for Obama. Jesus never hated anyone, even the people that killed Him.
So, if you don’t know Him, allow me to introduce you. Jesus is the Word of God, who existed before time began. Jesus is the guy who knew you before you were born and decided right then and there to love you, no matter what you do. Jesus is the single most controversial figure in the history of humanity because He dared to love everyone, just because He is love. Jesus is the Friend walking beside you on your darkest day, holding you in your darkest hour, celebrating with you at life’s joys. Jesus is the guy standing there smiling at you when you give a nickel to the homeless guy on the corner who’s begging for money. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the answer to all of life’s questions.
Jesus is the Son of God, the King of all. And He loves you. THAT is the point of it all.
Do you know that Man?