Happy Good Friday! I've been feeling a bit of a heavy heart lately wondering what I should blog about about this week as Easter approaches. Somehow telling a fishing or hunting story doesn't really seem to fit this week. The life, death, resurrection and acension of Jesus is too powerful of a story. Those four events really are the key, the basis of our faith. They encompass the full work of Christ. And they are ASTOUNDING. REALLY! Christianity really is THE GOOD NEWS. How often we lose sight of that.
Okay, I have to ask your forgiveness here. I know Jeff and I have quoted John Eldredge a lot. But he wrote a letter last week that is really, really good and I want to copy it here for you to read. I was reminded of the true Jesus and his good heart towards me. I think you will find it as encouraging as I did. And my prayer for all of us this week is to discover the real Jesus as we celebrate Easter this year.
Those moments when we have Jesus, really have him, those are the best moments of our lives. Those times when he seems distant or hard to find can be our most desolate. To know Jesus as he really is addresses things in us we didn't even know needed addressing. Sets us free in ways we didn't even know were possible. Touches our deepest longings in ways nothing else even comes close. It is like coming home.
And so, a true knowing of the true Jesus is the greatest thing that can ever happen to us.
I'm thinking about some of the great shifts in my life. That season years ago now when I began to understand that God loves my heart, cares for my heart, yearns for my heart. I'm not sure how it happened - how does it happen to any of us - but I had shifted my Christian life into something very outward. Going to church. Keeping God's commands. Doing good for others. The initial joy of knowing Jesus faded into something very dry. What a joy, what an epiphany it was when I came to see that he wanted friendship with me, wanted a heart-to-heart relationship. It changed everything.
Following quickly on the heels of that awakening was the realization that life is a romance. All the things I love in this world - horses running in a field, wildflowers in very high alpine meadows, fly fishing, sunlight on water, the cry of a hawk - these are all God wooing me, calling me, speaking to my heart. Wow. The realization that God does speak, speaks intimately, that I can learn to hear his voice - it absolutely changed my life.
Then there was the new season where I came to understand Jesus is a warrior, leads us in a great battle. The freedom that began to usher in is too great to quantify. There was the awakening of a whole new side to Jesus when I learned he is our healer - comes personally into the dark memories of our past and actually brings healing and restoration. He really does restore the soul. These kinds of epiphanies are absolutely priceless.
A true knowing of the true Jesus is the greatest thing that can ever happen to us.
It follows, then, that to be mistaken about Jesus is the worst thing that can happen.
My sons are off at college now; they have chosen to attend Christian colleges. It has provided an intimate look into contemporary Christianity, and it is very, very sad what most of these students hold to about Jesus. For example, the very subtle but deadly belief that, "Jesus is committed to excellence." What follows is the pressure too get your act together, to be excellent in all you do, "to glorify God." It is crushing. Performance replaces relationship. There is of course the common belief that God does not speak to us personally. But as a' Kempis said, "When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty."
Quite common is the belief that to love Jesus is to dedicate yourself to a life of service, or justice. Service then becomes tyrant, and the Christian life something very hard and barren and tiring. The need too great, our resources too limited. There is the belief that everything that happens to me is directly from the hand of Jesus. Even though he taught us to pray that his kingdom come, his will be done on earth. And when you hold that there is no enemy and no battle, that everything that happens to you is "God's will," then you begin to doubt the heart of God because he brings such terrible things into your life. It ushers in a fatal passivity, because why resist it? Nothing else can be done.
Call it the torment of misunderstanding. To get Jesus wrong is torment.
Of course, this is the battle raging through the Church. The enemy knows that if he can get us to embrace false ideas about Jesus, he can cripple us. John warns us of this in his first epistle: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." He urges us to recognize "the spirit of truth and the spirit of falshood" (1 John 4:1,6). And so I have been praying,
Jesus, I ask for you. The gift of you. I ask for the real you. I pray to know you as you really are. Thank you for giving me the Spirit of truth. I pray that the Spirit of truth would expose every false thing in my perceptions of you. I pray that the Spirit of truth would dismantle the spirit of falsehood in my life. I ask you for you.
Would you pray that with me this week? We all need the real Jesus.