For a while now, I’ve been wanting to drown out the voices of culture, scholars, politics, and myself, on the subject of Jesus.
I want to know what HE said. No more, no less.
What did Jesus say when He was on earth?
How does it apply to our complicated society?
What does it mean for all the subjects and situations I find important?
I have started several books recommended to me by people I trust and respect. (Once a veracious reader, I am now an expert on reading articles and starting books. ’tis the season). They are good books, but they, too, come with some agenda when it comes to the person and the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Last night, a prophet spoke to me. I had shared with him the day prior my desire to know the heart of the Savior.
And through this prophet, Jesus said back to me, “I want something deeper with you. You’ve only known the idea of Me. I want you to know ME.”
Folks, I’ve been singing “Jesus Loves Me” since I was 4 years old. IN church. KNOWING the Bible stories. TEACHING the Bible stories. Absentmindedly humming the songs whilst grocery shopping or in line for a roller coaster. I’ve lived a pretty Jesus-y life. But I know those words are true. I don’t know Him like I want to know Him.
And I’m ready.
Yesterday was a marathon. From the start of the day (and whoa, did we all have Halloween-candy-hangovers to begin with), I went from one definitive, must get done activity to the next. This included my annual review at work, and let me tell you, like most things that have blown my mind about working in the business and ministry of church, it was a profound and touching experience… because we opened in prayer and my boss and I both cried, because the two smart, experienced, pastors reviewing me talked about the potential God has for me.
I also got to have lunch with a friend whom I don’t get to visit with very often. She and daughter run Miranda’s dance studio. And as I told my friend, I’m a little obsessed with their family… three grown daughters who are so fun and talented and lovely. They have walked through unbelievable emotional highs and lows this year, and in particular, this last month, and it was precious to sit across from her in a crowded restaurant and cry together and rejoice together in how God’s love has carried them through and been a light in dark times that everyone around them can see.
You know, there were also errands, and cleaning, and after-school-crazy-time with the girls, and then finally, opening the door to the 22 people who came last night. I’m tired y’all, and everyone else is miraculously still asleep this rainy Saturday morning. But I woke up at 7:30 and got over my own self, and took my favorite Bible, one that is almost 20 years old with the cover hanging off, and began to read the words of Jesus.
What strikes me in the first passages I have read is how Jesus called people to Him. In Matthew 4:17, He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So simple. So direct.
So void of tasks.
Is anyone else struck by what He didn’t say?
Part of what has gotten me so frustrated with Christian culture is the lists. We take secular entities and try to fit them into our spirit walk. It’s very American, and I think very fruitless. Now I am not saying different people don’t need different boundaries because of their struggles, or maybe their fears. I respect that. But respectfully, I say to my fellow believers in Jesus:
He would eat at Chic-fil-A, but he would also shop at Target and eat rainbow Oreos.
He hung with tax collecting crooks and downtrodden losers and active whores… before they changed one bit.
In fact, as my wise and observant husband pointed out to me two days ago (and I read this morning!) when Jesus began to build His team, when He called the first disciples, He said to them:
“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4: 19
Note the sequence. He didn’t say, “Get your tattoos lasered off, quit smoking, stop cussing, clean the wine out of your refrigerator, clean all those soapy sex dramas off your DVR, tell your gay and Catholic and Democrat friends you can’t be seen in public with them, then come find me.”
Oh, don’t mistake me: I know Jesus calls us to change our lives and become more like Him.
But I think we gravely, for as long as I remember learning about Jesus, mistake Who and How and What He is.
Part of the reason I want to read all of His words is because I have a theory. I’m sure others have discovered and written about this theory, but it’s a personal journey for me.
My theory is that Jesus doesn’t fit in the box I’ve been shown, that He doesn’t care about all this “stuff” we’ve made rules and marches for, that His love is better, greater, deeper, wider, much less discriminating and much more redeeming than we have ever ever ever allowed ourselves to fathom.
My thankfulness today? Bosses who pray, friends who testify, husbands with wisdom, and a Savior who does not live in a tiny, conservative, American box. After all, even a grave could not hold Him.