In my early twenties I was ready to give up on Jesus. Not because of intellectual objections or disagreements with his right to be the Lord of my life. Rather, it was purely emotional—immature, childish, pouty emotion. Something terrible had happened in my life and I wanted to blame God, maybe even find a way to get back at God, to make him sorry for how badly he hurt me. I told you it was immature. To make matters more complex, I hid my emotional pain behind pseudo-intellectual criticisms, and one day I unloaded it all on my friend Tim.
Tim was an older mentor in the faith. I told him that he had one chance, one final conversation to talk me out of walking away from Jesus, otherwise I was ditching discipleship to Christ. (Such a drama queen!) Tim listened patiently to my objections and accusations about faith in Jesus, and then he offered me his wise response: he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Huh. I hear you. But what else are you going to believe?”
That was it? That was it! That was all he had to say? Yup—and it was perfect. That was just what my stubborn, skeptical, questioning mind needed to hear. I then went through a season of life trying other belief systems on for size. And nothing came close to the beauty and power and relevance of Jesus.
When many disciples walked away from Jesus in John 6, Jesus asks the twelve disciples if they want to leave too. Peter responds:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (Peter, John 6:68-69)
To whom shall we go? What else are we going to believe? What better option can be found out there in the world of ideas? Peter didn’t claim to understand everything Jesus taught, or even to agree at first pass (remember when Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that Jesus had come to die?), but he did believe that Jesus’ teaching was our source of life. As Jesus himself had said earlier in that chapter:
“The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (Jesus, John 6:63)
Sometimes I like to express the gospel, the good news of Jesus, the core message of his ministry, back to myself in fresh words to help me appreciate it all over again. And then I ask myself, “Is there anything better than this that I could believe?” The answer is always “not even close.” I did this again last week and now I’d like to share my fresh version with you and ask you the question, “Is there anything else you could believe?”
This is not meant to be my best articulation of the gospel (for a more robust walkthrough of the Gospel from Scripture, see our Gospel Cheat Sheet), but it’s how I reflected on it this week. Here you go:
- The creative Force that is the Source and Sustainer of all things is pure Love. We were made by love, and we are kept alive by love. It’s always relating, always engaging – it is the pure spiritual light of Love. This is what we call God, our Source and our Sustainer. That’s the universe we live in.
- That Love made us in his own image and likeness, to reflect and magnify this love to each other and to all creation. All people, Christian or not, are made in the image of God and have the potential, if we live in tune with our Source and Sustainer, to amplify that love around the planet. He wants to work in partnership with us because that’s what love does.
- We have distorted our own calling and have wandered off the path of our purpose. We have turned love into a selfish thing rather than other-centered service. We have used creation and we have used other people to serve our own agendas. We’ve reversed the polarity on love.
- Jesus is The-God-Who-Is-Love come to us in our own form to lead us home. He embodies the way of love, peace, simplicity, and grace. Grace, that great irreligious concept of God coming to us and gifting us with everything that religion tries, but fails, to accomplish.
- Right now, we can trust this good news of Jesus and receive his life and love as a gift. We can begin to live loved, because we are. And we can pour out divine love to others and to all creation, because God himself is empowering us through the Holy Spirit to be fully ourselves, the image bearers of pure love.
This past week I’ve been sitting with this truth, letting it really sink in. And I have reaffirmed to myself that I am far beyond the ability to believe in anything else. The beautiful good news of Jesus has, once again, won my heart.
How about you? My guess is, if you think you could believe something else, you probably should. Otherwise, don’t hold back reaffirming your commitment to Jesus as the one who holds the words of Spirit and life, and let that reignite your desire to share that good news with others.
This blog is an excerpt from Jesus by John: The Bread & the Blood, Part 1 – The Scandal.