Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and probably one of the most hated for the evil done in God’s name. It was Christians who started the crusades, inquisition, Salem witch trials, supported slavery, imprisoned Galileo, covered up for child molesters, blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, murdered abortion doctors, supported Hitler, and hold up “God hates fags” signs outside of dead soldiers funerals. Many are full of judgment, hypocrisy, hatred, and gossip. Just so we are clear, there is a big difference between the religion of Christianity and the person of Jesus. Jesus was a man who lived two thousand years ago. He didn’t want to start a new religion. He never asked anyone to become a Christian, or used that word. He asked them to follow Him by obeying His teaching, and most Christians don’t.
So if you accept or reject Jesus it must be on the basis of the man himself, and not on what the religion that has hijacked his name has done.
Everything about Him is unique. For starters, He is the most influential person in human history. Our culture divides time by before and after His birth (although most people think we are a few years off). Why would a man who never traveled more than 100 miles from where He was born have such an impact on the world?
Also, Jesus was a brilliant teacher. It was His teaching on loving your neighbor as yourself that motivated William Wilberforce to seek to put an end to slavery in England, and Martin Luther King Jr. to promote civil rights. It was Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness, reconciliation and loving your enemy that provided Rwanda with a framework for the Hutus and Tutsis to reintegrate their nation after the genocide. Where did He get such insight?
Jesus message was one of love. He said learning to love God and others is what following Him is all about. He dreamed of creating a community of people who were free from hypocrisy, judgment, anger, greed, adultery, and hatred, and filled with God’s love for their neighbor. He envisioned his followers going out of their way to give of themselves for their fellow man.
What’s most interesting about Him was the fact that he loved those the most unlike Him, and spent the majority of His time investing in their lives. He elevated the status of women in His society by educating them with men. He ministered to those with contagious diseases, the poor, the mentally unstable and the desolate. His prayers brought healing to their lives.
He went to the whores, murders, and thieves, and He told them that God feels love for them like a father feels for His children. He said that if you would take one step toward God, the Father would run toward you regardless of what you had done.
There was something about Jesus that when he said those words, people knew they were true. They knew he could be trusted because they saw someone who been with God. More than that, they saw that even thought his values where completely different, He genuinely liked them.
The heart of Jesus was arrestingly beautiful. It’s like when one is walking down the beach, and the sunset is so gorgeous you can’t take your eyes off of it. It made people have hope, and believe that love is real, and more powerful than darkness.
His culture did not understand him, and His lifestyle made some of them so uncomfortable that they killed the most loving man who ever lived in the most heinous way imaginable.
And three days later some of His closest followers said they saw Him, that they talked with Him, and touched His side.
Jesus resurrection marked the turning point of human history. His kingdom is advancing in the earth and nothing can stop it. It has grown from 120 people to 2 billion. We live in the middle of one of the biggest revivals in history. Right now the church in China, Latin America, and Africa are exploding at unprecedented rates. Every day I talk with someone who tells me about how Jesus has changed his or her life.
Jesus has changed mine. As I learned to follow Him it has transformed me.
I was born into a culture of southern bigotry. (I was not taught that at church, but I picked it up from Christians around me). Jesus taught me how to love people of different races and homosexuals without judging them. He showed me that every person has value, and how to see the gifts and dreams God has place in them and call them out. His teaching that “the truth will set you free” created a value in me for science, logic, and philosophy. He freed me from depression, and taught me how to have healthy relationships.
My wife and I used to fight a lot, and say really cruel things to each other when we did. As we followed Jesus teaching about never saying evil things, and always loving each other, we saw our house become a home of peace and love.
I’ve seen Him heal the sick with my very eyes. About five years ago, Jesus healed Alison’s back, from pain that she had since she was a little girl. It was part of a turning point in my life as I discovered His power was real, and can defeat darkness today. To hear Alison’s story click here:
Jesus is alive, transforming the world, and right now He is calling to you and saying, "Let me love you. I want for you to know how much I like you. I want to teach you how to live in love and freedom and to experience life as I have created it.” He wants you to know you are loved like a child, and for you to experience the Father’s love. Jesus doesn’t want you to clean yourself up then come to Him. He simply asks that you come. Will you accept His death as covering your sins? Would you let God embrace you where you are at?
If so, it as easy as talking to Jesus like He is a loving friend, and saying, “Thank you for loving me. Thank you for dying for me. I embrace the love demonstrated for me on the cross. I want to learn to love God and people like you did, and to stop doing sins against love. Amen.”
Once you believe Jesus, it's time to follow him. Ask God to bring to mind one area He would like for you to follow Him in, and then do that. It's that simple. When you obey, you will come to know God at a deeper level. Most people have objective knowledge about God. They know He is good, loves, forgives, protects, etc. When you do what He says, like choosing not to tell a lie, or to pray, and read the Bible, or tithe, then your belief in God is placed to the test. As you obey, over a long period of time, you will begin to experience the things you objectively know about God. Objective knowledge about God + Obedience Over Time = Personal knowledge. For example, I knew God could provide, but when I began tithing, I began to see Him provide for me on less income. I knew that God healed the sick, when I began to pray with them regularly, I began to see Him heal them. I knew God delivered people from sin, but as I did what He said I began to see Him free me. I knew God loved me, but when I made it a habit to become aware that His love is here, now, radiating toward me and I did that regularly, and I began to experience His presence. (There are other ways to know Him personally, but obeying is very important). If God feels distant, just do that next thing and see what happens.
I have seen more people lose their faith, because they stop obeying, than any other reason. When you stop obeying, then you stop setting yourself up to have to depend on God to be God, and when you do that, you stop setting yourself up to experience Him. When you stop experiencing Him, then you doubt He is there. When you doubt He is there, then you obey Him less. It's a downward cycle. When you live there long enough, you cease to be a follower, and are drifting toward religion. If you ever want out, then do the next thing. It's aways scary, but worth it.
If you ever want to find out if Jesus is the real deal. Set a period of the next two weeks of your life, and radically do the stuff He said. Feed the poor, pray with the sick, love the broken, worship God passionately, give generously, love your neighbor and enemy, have a party for outcasts, confess you sins to those you have harmed, make restitution for what you have done and develop the Father's heart of love for people and purity. You will come to know Him through experience. Period.
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