When I imagine what Jesus is like I think of words like compassionate and tenderness. I see Him writing in the dust before the Pharisees and the woman caught in the act of adultery. I see Him stopping on the roadside to heal a blind man that everyone else ignores, or feeding an enormous crowd when his disciples said, “Send them home.”
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Jesus could be firm. He could be downright scary.
Just ask those greedy money-changers who believed money was more important than people’s hearts. They got chased out of the temple by a Messiah swinging a whip!
And, I guess that’s my point. Jesus is tender but He’s not wimpy!
Getting to know God for REAL
Honestly, if you want to KNOW GOD then you really need to get to know Jesus.
Because the Bible says,
“Jesus replied, ‘Philip, I’ve been with you all this time and you still don’t know who I am? How could you ask me to show you the Father, for anyone who has looked at me has seen the Father.'” John 14:9 TPT
I was much like clueless Philip when I returned to the Church.
I had gone to church my entire childhood, attended Sunday School, and Christian camp, but I did not KNOW God.
Unpacking our fears
There will be a definite difference in your experience when you only look at God with a head-knowledge versus a heart-intimacy.
I had learned a lot of Bible verses growing up. I had heard a sermon every Sunday. But, I only knew about God.
I saw Him as distant–definitely angry and hard to please.
So, here I am, back in church, wounded, hurting, scared, and defensive.
I am a returned Prodigal.
I haven’t got it all together. On the contrary, I haven’t got the slightest clue what I’m doing.
Where do I start–when I don’t even speak the language?
(Christian-speak is definitely not world-speak!)
How do I feel safe–when everyone I meet, looks at me like some kind of dangerous contagion?
I don’t dress “right…” I don’t speak “right,” (… and yet.) I am longing to believe that, GOD LOVES even ME.
(Yeah, I’m a mess.)
But, I’m back in church, and I’m trying, and Jesus and I know, “That’s a bloomin’ miracle!”
I wish I could tell you that every “Christian” you will meet, will be loving, kind, and welcoming, and that when you meet them, you will meet the heart of Jesus.
It’s just not true–no head-faking bull!
Sometimes “church people” are meaner than junkyard dogs–but their behavior does not reflect Jesus.
Don’t confuse what some unfortunate people do or say, with a God who is compassionate-tenderness itself!
Jesus is loving, kind, and accepting, and He calls His followers to be loving, kind, (see 1 Corinthians 13) to anyone. Especially those who don’t share their beliefs!
You can lay down your fears
Instead, get to know the real heart-to-heart Jesus.
Yes, He is firm about sin. (No doubts there!) But, He is infinitely tender with the sinner! God loves you! He always has and He always will.
He will go with you wherever you go because He is FOR you.
Jesus cheers for you, prays for you, and He knows your heart inside out–messy junk, notwithstanding.
And yet, He believes in you! He has a recovery plan designed just for you–and He wants you to know beyond any doubt that you are here–for His destined purpose.
When you struggle (and you will) He will lift you up again. You’re not perfect and He doesn’t expect you to be. He only asks for your TRUST, and He knows–that will take some time. After all, you’ve had those fears of yours a long, long, time haven’t you?
Just take a chance. Ask Him to teach you how much He loves you.
He loves to answer that prayer!
I love the words of Brian Simmons. In his book The Divine Romance he teaches us what it is to walk out our life with Jesus in a heart-to-heart intimacy.
Today he encourages us,
Gaze into His eyes, and you will see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit looking back. These are the eyes that are filled with wonder and treasures yet to be discovered. These are the eyes that hold the answers to every mystery. They pierce our souls and interpret every movement of our heart. Nothing is hidden from His sight.
When you know that God sees you and still loves you, you find the courage to live an authentic life. The longer you stand in His presence, being vulnerable and honest with Him, shackles of people pleasing begin to melt away. His opinion of you becomes the only one that matters. He understands you, even when no one else does. This life of freedom releases you to be yourself, to realize how fully you depend upon the Lord, and to live humbly before Him and others. Open your life to His penetrating gaze and find confidence in His never-ending love.
He sees everything with pure understanding. How beautiful his insights–without distortion. His eyes rest upon the fullness of the river of revelation, flowing so clean and pure. Song of Songs, 5:12 TPT
— Those Eyes, August 21