Theology

Category Archives: Theology

Is Following Jesus Really Worth It?

My eight-year-old daughter has many strengths, and I love her dearly. But when she needs to take some medicine that doesn’t taste good to her, I’ve come to suspect that something goes mysteriously wrong with her ability to communicate. I’ll say, “Hannah, you really need to take your medicine.” But judging from the look on her face, what she hears is something like, “Hannah, you need to swim with poisonous jellyfish.” And the high pitched, inarticulate sounds that escape her mouth seem to confirm this. It doesn’t really matter how badly she needs the medicine. She’s just not convinced that whatever benefit she’ll get from it is worth it.

I wonder if the same dynamic can be true of us when it comes to following Christ. Whether consciously or not, we all ask ourselves whether it’s really worth it.

But what does Jesus himself have to say about that question?

Do You Believe in a Pharisee Jesus?

If you close your eyes and picture Jesus looking at you, what kind of look does he have on his face? I don’t know where I first heard someone ask that question, but I think answering it can be very helpful in revealing what we believe—on a day-to-day, real life basis—about who Jesus is and how he relates to us.

For example, do you see a Jesus who is constantly tallying up your sins and failings? Do you see a displeased Jesus, one who condemns you for a failure? Or maybe you see a Jesus that has little empathy for your problems and sufferings, one who either doesn’t care or is content for you to “get what you deserve.”

I’m convinced that a lot of Christians tend to see Jesus (and God the Father) in this light. Even so, this picture has more in common with the Pharisees that he repeatedly clashed with than in does with the real Jesus, the one we find in the pages of the Bible. So if you’re someone who is prone to think this way, consider the following truths about Jesus:

What Would Your Jesus Do?

The next time you hear someone ask the now (in)famous question “what would Jesus do” in reference to a real-life situation, try to pay careful attention to the answer. I’ll bet that more often than not it will involve something to do with helping, accepting, and/or loving people.

And that’s certainly understandable. After all, Jesus wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty to help people (figuratively and literally!). He often associated with people that others found culturally and morally objectionable. And of course, no one has ever loved like Jesus loved.

It’s hard to overestimate how important these descriptions are to understanding who Jesus is. But as crucial as they may be, they don’t give us the whole picture.

Is Your Jesus the Real Jesus?

In one exchange recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is. They reply with what they’ve heard: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (see Mat. 16:13-20). One of the interesting things about the possible answers they report is that each is somewhat understandable given first century Jewish culture. Another notable thing is that every one of them is wrong.

Jesus’ next question for his disciples is one we’d do well to ask ourselves today: “But who do you say that I am?”

Whether you’re new to Christianity or been around it all your life, you might be surprised at how much your understanding of Jesus comes from the people and culture around you.

Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed

“Most women are waiting for something, but some women are waiting acutely. The thing missing from their lives is in such sharp focus that they aren’t sure they’ll ever feel complete without it.” This opening line from Betsy Child Howards in her book Seasons of Waiting immediately grabbed me. My experience of waiting acutely was

10 Words to Build Your Life On

Ten words. Two biblical sentences. That’s enough to give you a solid foundation for your life.

They’re words that are pregnant with truth and power and grace. They summarize the the remedy for your greatest problem and the sure hope for lasting peace and joy.

What are they?

You’re Being Watched (and That’s a Good Thing)

Do you realize that you’re being watched? At work. At school. In your neighborhood. At social events with your friends. At the grocery store and in the PTA meeting. At your kids’ sporting events. Maybe even at home.

No, I’m not talking about some Big Brother conspiracy. I’m simply pointing out the fact that people outside the Christian faith often have a front row seat to your life. And whether you realize it or not, what they see contributes to their view of what it means to believe in and follow Christ.

Now, if you’re like me, this is a bit unnerving. I’m not always the best representative of the Christian faith in my words and actions. On the other hand, it’s also a tremendous opportunity. Why? Because people often need to see that faith in Christ “works” in real life before they will consider embracing it for themselves. Seeing people they know living out their faith with integrity and winsomeness can provide motivation and vision for them to do the same.

And this leads me to three important points: