Here’s the thing. Chances are, you’ve read this kind of message before. But I’m hoping this time it will be different. I’m hoping this time you’ll read something that will connect with you in a way it never has, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll give this message some thought. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll let it change your life. Because it’s that kind of message.
That’s why I say it’s the most important thing. Will you give me a chance to explain?
Our hearts burned within us
There’s a story about three guys walking down the road having a conversation. They’re in the moment, and none of them says anything to the others about it, but afterwards, one asks another, “While we were talking and walking on the road, didn’t our hearts burn within us?”
What gave that conversation such power? Why did it stir up passion in those guys?
It’s because one of those guys was Jesus. And that’s what an encounter with him is supposed to be like. It’s supposed to invigorate that deepest part of us—the part of us that calls for hope and meaning and purpose—the part of us that craves something worthwhile to live for.
Because he is that thing.
You may have heard his story explained before. Maybe it was explained to you as just a story. Or a set of rules or a lifestyle choice. Or maybe you thought it was a religion. How ever it was explained to you, if you didn’t grasp the idea that it’s really all about a relationship, you heard wrong.
Imagine a person who knows all about you—I mean really all about you: every secret, every hidden corner of your heart—and still loves you enough to put his life on the line for you. Who said he’d never leave you or forsake you, who loves you so completely and so enduringly that nothing this world has to offer could ever compare.
That’s him too.
Here’s the thing. We’ve all messed up. Don’t even try to argue with me about that because in our moments alone, we can all point back to times in our lives that we were less than we could have been. When we didn’t live up to our own standards, let alone those of someone else.
We’ve all lied, cheated, stolen and generally messed up. I have. Haven’t you?
When we did that, we joined with the rest of the human race in falling short of the glorious plan God had for mankind. What glorious plan, you ask? Well, from the beginning, God had in mind to make humankind his partners—to rule the world with and through people—to make the world the most awesome place anyone could imagine. In this perfect plan, there was no pain, no poverty, no sickness or disease, no war, no hatred. Just perfect, intimate partnership with the God of the universe.
How do I know?
It’s clearly explained in the Bible. Here’s another thing you might have misunderstood. The Bible isn’t that dusty book you thought it was. I’ve heard it called a manual for life, and while there’s truth to that statement, it doesn’t say it all. The truth in the Bible is life.
You see, despite the mess we’ve each made of our lives, God’s power and his word are still at work in the lives of those who are willing to partner with him. Even though we’ve messed up, that offer of partnership is still out there—waiting for any who would accept it.
The “good news” people talk about when they mention the Bible and Christianity is this. Although there was enough evidence to convict all of us of the crime of messing up God’s perfect plan—what the Bible calls sin–Jesus came and took our punishment for us. Although he’s God’s Son and equal in status with God, he came and became a man, learned what it was like to live just like us on this earth, resisted the same temptations we’ve fallen prey to, and ultimately gave his life as a ransom for our lives in the ultimate display of love and forgiveness.
The wrath of God people talk about was removed that day, 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross and rose again on what we call Easter Sunday.
If we accept all of that: our guilt, Jesus’ sacrifice, and that he rose from the dead to seal our restoration to God and to the partnership God offered from the beginning of time, then it’s still available to us. The relationship of intimacy with One we can trust more readily than anyone else we know, the enduring, abounding love he wants to lavish on us—it’s all ours for the asking.
How does that sound? Is your heart burning within you yet?
That deep part of us that craves purpose and meaning is our spirit. It’s that part of us that’s most like God, who is also spirit. And until we team up with him, it’s that part that is dormant within us, waiting for his words to nourish and sustain life. Just like they did when in the beginning, God spoke into the nothing and said, “Let there be light” and there was.
Have objections? Questions you just can’t wrap your head around? You’re not alone. Check out answers to some of the most common objections to the Christian faith.