When I was in high school, my youth group put on a passion play for our church. I was cast, I say that loosely, as the Roman soldier who accompanied and beat Jesus as He carried the cross to Calvary. I’m ashamed to say I loved the role. See, my youth minister, who was playing the role of Jesus, told me, “I want you to actually hit me.” Um...You tell a high school boy to hit you and you better believe he’ll hit you. I remember the night of the performance, I gave it my all. I’m pretty sure that I got so into character that I spit on him. (Wait a minute...I’m just now realizing that may be why my youth minister wouldn’t talk to me for a while after. Anyway…)
After the performance was over, several people thanked each of us for our role in the play. They encouraged and thanked us for the time we sacrificed to preparing for it.
As I greeted people while they left, an elderly man in a wheelchair rolled up to me. With tears in his eyes he asked, “How could you do that?” I honestly had no idea what he meant, so I asked. He looked up at me and asked, “How could you beat Jesus?” I was floored and didn’t understand why he wasn’t encouraging me. I’m thinking, “I mean, come on man, it was just a play. Technically, I was beating Tom the youth minister.”
Some 15 years later, I now realize why he asked me that question.
I don’t follow Jesus because He saved me, I follow Jesus because I love Him.
IT’S ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP
I need to be real honest with you -- the Church has a tendency to miscommunicate to people that salvation is the goal or the endpoint. I believe this is false. Salvation is the result of committing to a relationship with Jesus, walking with Jesus, and dying with Jesus. It’s all about a relationship. What tends to happen is we look at Genesis 3 and forget to look at the chapters leading up to this and the relationship between God and creation, especially God and man.
Paul talks about this relationship in Colossians 1:15-16.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.” (ESV)
“All things were created through Him and for Him.” This says to me, Jesus created all things for a relationship with Him.
I hope you know my heart and understand that I am not downplaying salvation. Actually, I’m trying to give it more meaning for those of us that call Jesus our Lord.
When we see that we’re intended for a relationship with Jesus, it shows us that our goal isn’t works or deeds, it’s love.
NO GREATER LOVE
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” - John 15:12–14
As we can see, Jesus is going to perform His relational redeeming act not because He has to, or so that we don’t go to hell. He does it because He loves us!
Greater love has no one than this.
Our Hero doesn’t just swoop in, catch us from the fall, and fly off. No, He tears down the walls of legalism and rebuilds it with what it was always meant for: love and relationship.
I don’t know about you, but that makes salvation mean so much more to me. It says, I don’t just save you so you can live, I save you so you can live with Me!
LET’S THINK RELATIONSHIP
So what do we do with this change in perspective?
PRAY. Well first, we thank God for it. Thank Him that He first and foremost wanted us enough to create us. Secondly, He loved you enough to send His Son to redeem the very thing you and I broke.
WALK. Live your life walking beside Jesus. Every day is a new opportunity to open His Word and learn His heart better, to love others better, to be excited about the day He will return and take us home.
SHARE. Make it a point in your life to see all of creation around you, especially the children of God. See them with redeemed or broken relationships with their Creator and share with them this truth. Let’s correct the miscommunication that Christianity is about salvation and show them that it really is about a relationship with Jesus. Share that God loves them and wants to walk with them again in the garden.