For God the Father has given me his seal of approval – John 6:27
This is the only work God wants from you; believe in the one he has sent – John 6: 29
Anne Graham Lotz has written a book with the title, Just Give me Jesus. In the Gospel of John, more so than anywhere else, Jesus tells us that he is the chosen Messiah, the living Son of God and the only way to God. There is no other.
I have come to realise that he is the very epicentre of all things. Wars are fought because of him, families are held together in his name, people curse others using his name, or bless them as a result of him. This entire universe revolves around him, whether we can see it or not. We talk with a great deal of people on the streets from other religions, and all of them have an opinion about Jesus, Isa as Muslims call him. He figures in virtually all of the world’s religions. In our view, most of them want Jesus in ‘their religion’, a figure who is both divine and human, a way back to God. What they don’t understand, is that he belongs to no religion but if they would only accept his claims, they could claim him for themselves. That is what he wants.
It is possible to tell a person’s true relationship with God by how much they bring Jesus into conversation. Those who truly know him, talk about him openly and often, pray to him, usually in total freedom with others on the spur of the moment and seem to walk with him throughout every day of the week. He is anything but a religious institution in their lives. Conversely we know many Christians who rarely talk about him, or mention him by name and their relationship to him is strictly for Sundays. As a consequence, they rarely share their precious jewel with anybody else.
So how about you, in the hierarchy of your life, where does he rank in importance?
While on the subject of the Graham family, father Billy recently wrote that the greatest mistake a believer can make is to assume they need to work to get in the Kingdom. All too often, every one of us assumes somehow we can make it to God on our own. Jesus warns us off that path very quickly though, and tells us that God has put his Son front and centre of everything as our only chance of entering the presence of God. Believe in him, God points.
There is a fine line of course, in a statement like this. Those who truly relate to Him, understand that the Kingdom is a work, sometimes even a grind, yet they do it with relish not because it saves us, but because we are now motivated by his love. In our relationship with him, he has given us tasks to accomplish and as our loving King, he expects us to do them. He though, not our works will only save us in the end.
The world of course, gives scant regard to him or God, dismissing both as nothing more than a figment of our crazed mind. Some even fight to disprove his very existence.
All too many of us make a mental ascent to Jesus and his claims (and so believe) without it ever affecting our lives. This often drifts off into tick box religious work of sitting in pews, Sunday attendance, weekly prayer meeting and occasional choir practice, sometimes not even that. In our experience, this is deadly. It allows us to walk the fine line of somehow believing we are acceptable to God by going through a few rituals, without ever bothering with the relationship. We allow our activity to define relationship, not his expectation. All too often, as we listen to people tell us ‘we go to church’ or ‘we are Anglicans [or whatever brand it is]’ the conversation, the opportunity for real relationship passes by. Who knows when they will think about such things again? Deadly.
If you think I exaggerate, then consider throughout the Gospels, who Jesus railed against; was it ever the poor who knew in their hearts they could never reach God (after all just look at the state he left them in, went the Pharisees)? No, it was the religious elite those who set the bar so high that nobody could ever achieve it, those who changed the rules to suit themselves, those who made sure that God remained a complex and distant deity that nobody would ever get close to.
So, God sent his Son. We write, talk and preach of him. His beauty, his majesty is simply astounding, but so is his simplicity. In these simple verses and in the life he lived, he made his Father, the great Yahweh, accessible to all who were never good enough and knew it. To ascend to the heavens, you need to humble yourself first. He showed us that, if we would only dispense with our immense human pride and arrogance, we could not only come to the throne we could even call him Father.
That all the works but one were unnecessary, and that one was to believe in his Son with everything we had. Along the way, we will find every desire, every want and need, all our peace and contentment is found in him. Then one day, when we finally pass, he will take our hand and walk us into the throne room to introduce us to his Father.
Every single day of my life, I continue to be astounded by him. Just give me Jesus.