I have been doing a lot of reading lately while I wait in long car pool lines. A friend told me about a book he read recently called "So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore," by Jake Colsen. (I'm only in the first chapter, so I won't recommend it until I read it first.) I was hesitant to buy it because I do want to continue to go to church. I love going to church and thankfully we have found a place that my family loves and trusts. My friend told me that the book is not about quitting church altogether, but it makes some really good points about recognizing controlling situations so we won't make the same mistakes twice. As I was reading, I came across something that was very special to me. A character in the book gave a wonderful description of Jesus that I can't quit thinking about. I want to share it with you.......
"He was as gentle a man as one would ever know. He could silence detractors without ever raising His voice. He never bullied His way; never drew attention to Himself nor did He ever pretend to like what vexed His soul. He was real, to the very core. And at the core of that being was love. Wow! Did He love! We didn't even know what love was, until we saw it in Him. It was for everyone, too, even those who hated Him. He still cared for them, hoping somehow they would find a way out of their self-inflicted souls to recognize who stood among them.
And with all that love, He was completely honest. Yet even when His actions or words exposed people's motives, they didn't feel shamed. They felt safe, really safe with Him. His words conveyed not even a hint of judgment, simply an entreaty to come to God. There was no one you would trust more quickly with your deepest secrets. If someone were going to catch you at your worst moment you'd want it to be Him.
He wasted no time mocking others, nor their religious trappings. If He had something to say to them, He'd say it and move on and you would know you'd been loved more than anyone had ever loved you before. I'm not talking about mamby-pamby sentimentalism either. He loved, really loved. It didn't matter if you were Pharisee or prostitute, disciple or blind beggar, Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile. His love held itself out for any to embrace. Most did, too, when they saw Him. Though so few ended up following Him, for the few moments His presence passed by them, they tasted a freshness and power they could never deny even years later. Somehow He seemed to know everything about them, but loved them deeply all the same.
And when He hung there from that filthy cross, that love still poured down - on mocker and disillusioned friend alike. As He approached the dark chamber of death, wearied of the torture and feeling separated from His Father, He continued to drink from the cup that would finally consume our self-will and shame. There was no finer moment in all of human history. His anguish became the conduit for His life to be shared with us. This was no madman. This was God's Son, poured out to the last breath, to open full and free access for you to His Father.
Jesus wants to be your friend without any strings attached. He will care for you and if given a chance will become more real to you than your best friend, and you will cherish Him more than anything else you desire. He will give you a purpose and a fullness of life that will carry you through every stress and pain and will change you from the inside to show you what true freedom and joy really are."