My pastor wrote this book called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. I haven’t read it yet, (Sorry JD!) but I’m sure its phenomenal and it’s on my list to read. That being said, I don’t know the content of his message, but I love the title, because I think it is such a good representation of our ‘Christian Culture’s’ misconception of Jesus- mine included.
So, this may be plagiarism, (Again- Sorry JD) but today I want to beg you to STOP asking Jesus into your heart. Just stop. It’s ludicrous. Jesus didn’t die on a bloody rugged cross for you and me just to come hang out in our hearts, flipping the channel on our 500in HDTVs on our satin leather couches, while sipping Bojangles’ sweet tea. He’s come to wreck our hearts and replace it with His own.
For the first 20 years of my life I had no idea- I was completely oblivious. I remember when I first ‘asked Jesus into my heart.’ I was 7. I didn’t want to go to hell, and I believed with Jesus hanging out with me as I lived my life, I would be safe- like a guard dog. I had no idea, not a clue, that all those years God was desperately trying to save me from myself.
Read this excerpt from Paul- possibly the most famous missionary to every proclaim the name of Jesus:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing…what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
~ Paul, Romans 7:18-19,24
He answers his cry of desperation in his next sentence- Jesus, Our Lord. It is he who saves us from our bodies of death, our sinful nature that reigns inside of us. I believed this lie that being a Christian was ‘the good life’ or ‘easy street’. You know? The God of the Universe is the captain of your team, so you’re unstoppable in life. He’s going to bless you with all this stuff and you’re going to be this awesome person that everyone loves and respects.
I didn’t understand. Following Jesus, in essence, is going to war against your very self. Jesus said in Luke 9:23,
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
And then he says-
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Do you really understand what He is saying? He’s saying that the Christian is one who gives up his/her life, counts it a loss, rubbish, crap. Who would do that? Only someone who truly sees Christ as a priceless treasure, worth any pain, any suffering, any loss, any cost. Following Jesus is not easy. Do not become a Christian lightly. Following Jesus will cost you your life. And you will never be able to do this until you see how deeply wretched and sinful your life is. It took me 20 years to get to this point. Maybe I’m a slow learner.
I remember the night I came to Jesus and truly gave my life over to Him. It was not this happy go-lucky celebration of victory. Don’t get me wrong- it was the best night of my life, but I was at the end of myself. I was sobbing, because I was so overcome with the guilt of my sin and the desperation of my situation. I felt disgusting, hopeless, and embarrassed. I remember sitting on my knees, overwhelmed that God said in His Word that He wanted me, that He had forgiven my sin and counted me blameless, if only I would come to Him. I had resisted for so long, because I knew what that meant. I had to give up my idols, my comforts. And not until that moment, that desperate moment when my eyes were open, did I see the absolute majesty of God compared to the total desolation of myself. And then my soul was so thirsty for God. I was dying, absolutely craving for the life, for hope, for salvation before me that I said to Him- I give up. I surrender. Take my life. I don’t want it anymore. All I want is you.
In that moment, I was saved. His Spirit was poured out over me, and He entered my soul, and I found love and peace I had never experience before. But Jesus is not lazy. I mean the guy was a carpenter on earth. When He enters your life, His job is to make you more like Himself, which requires a lot of tearing down and rebuilding. And, let me tell you- that hurts. He is removing your sin, your old self, and replacing it with Himself, your new self.
I’ve only been following Jesus for two years, but it’s been blood, sweat, and tears. Talk to someone older and wiser than me, and I know they’ll tell you the same. But I have found the Lover of my soul, who has never for a single moment forsaken me, but has day by day faithfully turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I was dead, without feeling, but now I’m alive! Yes, it hurts. Jesus told me that the cost of following Him on earth would be steep. But each day I draw closer to Him, I see more clearly that He is worth every second of it. My Savior, My God is the better portion my heart has so deeply longed for. I have died, and continually die every day, but He lives and reigns in my heart, and I live in the center of His heart – the home of love, mercy, and grace for the rest of eternity. So come – come and die and see that truly you will live.
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.”