Every semester, crazy pastors come to OSU. Actually, I don’t know whether they are legitimate pastors or pyschos on a mission, but either way, they take over library lawn and yell at people. Loudly, I might add.
Now, it takes a lot to make me angry. I’m a pretty even-tempered person, and few things bug me. But these people make me FURIOUS. Why? Because they abuse Jesus for their own agenda. They condemn. They hate. They spite. And worst of all? They justify their corrupt, hateful words through Jesus.
Friends, I don’t worship that Jesus. I don’t worship the Jesus who calls people whores. I don’t worship the Jesus who hates people. And I certainly don’t worship a Jesus who sends His followers to hurl insults like the Pharisees.
I worship the real Jesus.
I worship a Jesus who loves people. All people. And by all people, I genuinely mean ALL people. I don’t care what race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation you are, Jesus loves you.
I worship a Jesus who came not for the most religious but for the most broken. I worship a Jesus who came to heal the sick. I worship a Jesus who is, as the hit song by Casting Crowns says, a “friend of sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
My Jesus was best friends with tax collectors (who were basically Biblical bad guys), prostitutes and sinners. And what’s even more incredible? Jesus didn’t wait for them to be clean to love them. He didn’t wait for them to fix themselves. He just loved them as they were.
Broken. Flawed. Hurting. Helpless. Scared. Prideful. Guilty. Shamed.
And through every wrong choice, through every Sin, through every mistake, He loves us still.
But you see, Jesus loves us enough to not leave us the way we are. As humans, it’s in our DNA to make mistakes. To mess up. To be selfish. None of us is perfect.
When we fall, when we fail, when we falter – Jesus is there. Jesus is waiting with open arms to scoop us up and hold us close. Like any loving Father, He wants His children to do what is best for them.
Except Jesus takes love to a new level. There’s no righteous indignation. There’s no condemnation. There’s no shame.
There’s only grace and freedom and mercy and joy.
Jesus doesn’t say “I told you so.” He doesn’t say, “You should’ve listened.” He doesn’t say, “I was right and you were wrong.”
Jesus dusts you off, mends your aching heart and whispers softly,
Welcome home, my child. You are beloved. I made you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I’m with you. I’m for you. I will carry you.
Jesus calls you by your name. He washes away your Sin and embraces you with love.
Romans 5:8 tells us “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How amazing is Jesus? While we were still lying, while we were still stealing, while we were still lusting and arrogant and taking His name in vain, Jesus loved us enough to save us. Jesus, the only one without blemish, was willing to take our punishment EVEN IF we never loved him back.
That is the deepest love fathomable.
So listen, friends.
Jesus didn’t come to harm you but to help you. Jesus didn’t come to shame you but to love you. Jesus didn’t come to damn you but to free you.
Jesus gave us grace. All we have to do is believe it, accept it and live it. As much as some people try to deny it, His grace is enough.
**As a side note: Let me be clear, though, grace isn’t an excuse to Sin. Grace is freedom from Sin. (Read this great blog post called ‘Cheap Grace isn’t Grace’ because it rocks!) Because when you’ve been transformed by a Jesus who loves as deeply as He does, you want to do things pleasing to Him. But the thing is, we do good works not for our salvation but because of it.
** Silly Side note No. 2: Sorry for using the word whore. I actually HATE that word, but I chose it because, funny story, Preacher Bob called me a whore and I’m slightly salty about it. OK actually, he yelled it at my general direction and it seemed like it was at me, but I can’t be sure, so Preacher Bob may or may not have insinuated something about my character. But even if it wasn’t at me, no one should be called that so I left it in there. Plus also it’s 3 a.m. so ya know. #college