Meeting Jesus was like inviting in a JCB truck, not a friendly maiden aunt. He saved my life, but He turned it upside-down too. Instead of being easier and simpler, life became harder and more complicated.
I knew God as my Father and I joined the church – but for the first time I was different to my family.
I started reading the Bible – but it wasn’t like sat-nav. If this was my map there were pages missing; and what about the streets that weren’t listed? (Eating disorders. Snogging. GCSEs).
I started getting to know other Christians. But they believed different things! Some said it was all about the Holy Spirit and your feelings. Others spoke of God and duty.
Most of all, life was just messy. People I loved died. My body wouldn’t do what I told it to. I was bullied. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to be. Diseases like AIDs and Cancer were all over the news.
And God didn’t fix it. Why not?
If you’re thinking to yourself “I’m a Christian, it’s not meant to feel like this” then let’s remember two things:
what kind of salvation we have
and what kind of Saviour.
Firstly, the salvation we’re offered is not a salvation from hard circumstances. Actually Jesus saves us through hard circumstances.
Jesus is not a heavenly Poirot, sweeping in to solve our problems and then exiting once the job is complete. Nor is He heavenly “Scotty” beaming us up out of trouble and into spiritual bliss. Instead, Jesus becomes one of us. He rolls up his shirt sleeves and joins us in our brokenness.
Jesus saves us through the weakness and shame of crucifixion – and we follow in His footsteps. He travelled through the valley of shadows: and because He faced suffering and trial, so do we:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).
Think of the Exodus. It’s true that the people were sheltered by the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12). In that sense they were saved from suffering – the lamb took their place when the LORD judged. But in another sense they were not saved from suffering. Having been saved by the lamb, they were led through the Red Sea and straight into a wilderness (Exodus 13-14). They are saved from judgement, but they are saved through suffering.
It’s the same for us. Jesus is the Lamb who shed His blood to save us from the judgement we deserve. But He also saves us through suffering, leading us through trial and temptation before we come to the promised land of His presence. Salvation is not salvation from trouble – actually it takes us through trouble. But we go through it with Him. And that’s the second point.
Jesus is the kind of Saviour who enters into our world. He doesn’t just bless us from a distance, He gets up close and personal. This can be traumatic! Most of us develop coping strategies for life that keep people and their demands at bay. Those coping strategies work. For a bit. But Jesus has an access-all-areas pass for our lives and He’s staying put.
Because His love is unconditional, we can’t scare Jesus off! Cold shoulders and tantrums might put others off, but He sees the fear and longings underneath. It’s His grace that makes Him so disruptive. But it’s that same grace that is our hope for real change. It’s His love that turns us upside down and it’s His love that puts us together.
Don’t despair if things are not how you pictured them. If Jesus is Lord then that’s exactly what you’d imagine. But stick with it, because if Jesus is Lord then through every cross (and not apart from it), there’s a stunning resurrection.
Jesus does fix it. But He does it His way, not mine. He does it through the cross and He calls us to follow.