We Trust in Jesus
Over the next several weeks, I will be fleshing out the Brief Statement of Faith of the PCUSA. It appears last in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions, as it is the most recent. I hope my meditations will help you, dear reader grow in faith in God and deepen your walk with Christ. Even if you don’t consider yourself Presbyterian, I think they will help you. As always, it is my hope that my reflections will nourish you no matter what you are, even if you are of no faith.
So far, I have reflected on how we belong to God, who this God is we belong to and its implications to our faith and life.
This week, I will look at a longer section of the Brief Statement of Faith that goes into detail of who Jesus is.
Who is this Jesus we trust, why should we trust in him?
This is an important question. I will not be able to adequately address and answer it here.
So, I am going to touch on the important issues and invite you to seek this Jesus we trust.
God became man in Jesus. God loved you so much that he forsook heaven and all that means to become man to live and love fully, radically, and wastefully (to show us how to live in grace by faith) died a criminal’s death (to free all from darkness) and rose on the third day (so that none may taste death). An infinite God can give all of himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others. (A W Tozer) God loves you personally as you are, but way, way too much to let you stay that way. God expects more failure from you than you do yourself and still He loves you as is no strings attached.
The life, crucifixion, and resurrection Jesus makes no sense unless Jesus is God. Jesus makes us right so that we can come into right relationship with God. Jesus guides, strengthens and when we need it carries us on our journey with God towards our eternal fellowship. Through Jesus, our status with God are changed, we are put into a right relationship with God. We need the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus for our redemption and liberation, for our faith and life, for our joy and wonder. For in his life, Jesus showed us what it means to live a truly human life with and in God. In his crucifixion, Jesus redeems all of creation and suffers with us. In his resurrection, all rise in new life. No one is excluded from the power and beauty of the Jesus life.
Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18) That’s Jesus’ manifesto. If anyone, I don’t care who they are tells you that Jesus was about anything contrary they’re wrong and should be ignored. Jesus came that we might be liberated from the chains that bind us and free us to have eternal life. Jesus presents us with what we could never attain, without lifting a finger we are made free. In Jesus, God has put up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job once and for all and simply invited us to believe it—to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion. (Robert Farrar Capon)
Jesus saves us from ourselves and the lies of the world, so that we can live fully here-and-now. In Christ, we can live the kind of lives we all dream and hope for, yet Jesus doesn’t promise we will never suffer or stumble. He does promise that in the darkest times he will be with us. Jesus is not all that concerned with us believing the right things, going to the right churches, hanging out with the right people, or our personal happiness. Jesus is in the business of making us the kind of people that can live in the kingdom and reconciling all of creation to God. Jesus is not a watchdog of the church. Jesus is not a self-help guru. Jesus is not a slot machine. Jesus is loving and welcoming, inviting all into the loving, grace-filled, beautiful and wondrous arms of a God who doesn’t need us, but wants us.
Jesus never asks that we clean ourselves up to be presentable to God and deserve the unconditional and limitless love and grace of God. In Mark 1, the leper went to Jesus and asked for healing and Jesus with compassion gave it freely. It was a gift. Not earned, but given freely. Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Christian or if he had said the sinner’s prayer and tithed to his local church or believed the Apostles’ Creed. True, none of those things existed back then. However, Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Jew in right standing or believed Jesus was the son of God. No! The leper asked. Jesus healed.
Of all the great leaders of history, Jesus stands out alone absolutely unique. God intervened decisively in human history in Jesus and nothing is the same. We can deny or accept, but no one can ignore Jesus. Jesus is different. Jesus preached a new message, a new commandment of how we should live with love and grace, radically different from all the philosophy and religion of the past. He didn’t give a detailed plan of how we can earn our way back to God, but said, “God loves you. Let me show you how much.” Then, he went about showing through his stories, actions, and his dying on a cross how much God loves us in spite of ourselves. What Jesus did was present and manifest God in such a deeply authentic way that when one saw Jesus they experienced the divine. To experience Jesus was and is to experience God. He lived his message, accepting and forgiving the most despised sinners. He faced familiar human struggles, yet remained compassionate never once backing down from his commandment to love everyone. Finally, he accepted the ultimate act of love lying down his life for the sake of others. For Jesus this was not a one-time gift but a continual, renewable gift for all who trust in him. It is through Jesus that everyone can experience eternal life starting now and stretching beyond the grave.
I look at Jesus and see what is right and beautiful about life. I find Jesus to be the best and fullest expression of a human being. I want to live my life in the shadow of Jesus. When I read the Bible there are time when I say yes and my soul leaps for joy, there are other times when I am pushed and challenged and want to shrink away, but Jesus grabs me and holds me and I know that these are the very things I need to hear to live my Christianity authentically. I am not perfect; I don’t have it all together and never will. There are times that I surprise myself usually I stumble, sometimes I fall flat on my face. I am not as loving, selfless, or gracious as I should be or could be. I have hurt people. I have regrets. I have made mistakes. I need a savior and I am not so full of myself as to think I could ever do it on my own.
By Jesus, we have been made right and are no longer in opposition with God in any way. If, when we were most deplorable, we were reconciled with God by Jesus’ sacrificial death, now that we’re being healed, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen. Now that we have actually received this grace, we are no longer content simply to trudge along. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus. We extend the same grace that has been lavished on us to others. We want others to see the glory we see in Jesus as the exact representation of God.
We trust in Jesus, because of all he has done and will do. We trust in Jesus, because of the stir we caused in his life and the transforming saving grace that has stirred us.