What does Jesus really have to do with me?
A trap we can easily fall into is thinking we can take Jesus as we like him. We can easily think of Jesus as a kind of Confucius—a wise man from a different age who might have some timeless truths to get us out of our Monday morning stupor or who has words of wisdom that can be posted on a Facebook meme. We can be left wondering why so many people make such a commotion about religion. What does religion or Jesus really have to do with me?
Most of the time, if we are really honest with ourselves, we are just apathetic—myself included. It is difficult to even care because really, what’s the point?
What good will it do to care? All that comes from caring is high blood pressure, anxiety, and sorrow. If we care, we have to enter into the lives of others and into their pain. The person of Jesus is no different. To stand before God can be painful. Jesus’ eyes burrow into our skulls from up there on the cross. His glance can be piercing and awful to sit under. It all seems so judgmental and exclusive. Well, that is true.
Jesus is exclusive, because he must be in order for us to live (John 14:6). By live I do not mean just getting by in life. By live I do not mean wearing the best kicks, or owning the best car, or getting what you want for Christmas. By live I mean, really live. To really live is to live life without fear—a life without guilt or despair.
Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus came to bring into the world something that we apathetically think cannot exist because of so many broken promises: unconditional love. Jesus went to his death to keep that very promise! (Phil. 2:8).
Jesus is not someone we can just coexist with.
You see, the thing about Jesus is that he will not let you use him. He will not just coexist with us without a decision (Phil. 2:9–11). He will not let us be apathetic towards him. His sees us with deep longing and with deep hope. He hopes all things on the cross when he sees you and me (1 Cor. 13:7). He sees us for what we are but says, "Father, forgive them. They are like children without a mother who do not understand or know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34; Matt. 23:37). He says, "Father, bring them into our love and glory and show them the life we have that can now be theirs."
Jesus cannot do this without us falling under the shadow of his cross. Jesus heals us and enables us to see him as the God of heaven, the king who took off his crown to be among us (Phil. 2:5–11). He first must offend us, judge our sin, and take our curse to bring us back to a life of caring and hope.
Jesus must judge us, but he does so by judging himself. That is the look we cannot stand—the gaze of someone who is really innocent taking the scorn and shame we deserved without seeking revenge. In that very gaze we see the love he has for us and the love that shelters us from death itself (Rev. 1:12–18). Only in such a place can we have a life free from guilt and despair. Only in such a place can we take this life seriously again. This is something worth caring about.
So, what is Jesus to you?