“If all the people who were burned by Christians actually met the Jesus of the Bible, they would love Him. No one would reject that Jesus.” -my friend and a not-yet follower of Jesus, speaking truth

Yes. my friend. I get it. And I don’t disagree. Because unfortunately the brand of Jesus we “believers” have tried to sell to the world is often nothing but a mere fabrication, a pathetic and pitiful, artificial stand-in for the real, living and breathing and loving Jesus.

So if you’ve been burned by those who wear His name, if you are disillusioned by the convoluted messages, if you would rather believe in no Jesus at all than the judgmental one you’ve been fed, I have good great amazing awesome THE BEST news for you. Because that Jesus you thought you knew, that Jesus whose name they claimed but whose love they too often lacked, well, that Jesus isn’t real. He’s a misrepresentation of the authentic. He’s a Jesus that is totally against you and touchable only by the elites and the haves and the got-it-all-togethers. But THIS Jesus? Well, this Jesus is for YOU.

THIS Jesus. Who sees people and not labels. Who told the woman at the well to “go and sin no more” but never once thought of her as a whore. Who doesn’t rub your nose into the mistakes of your messes.

THIS Jesus. Who runs to you with compassion and never at you with condemnation. Who made religious leaders unfurl their fists and drop their stones as He gazed into the eyes of the woman “caught” in sin and in a single moment restored her dignity as a human being. Because He knows that we were all once broken anyway. And He loves us to our core.

Woman Caught in Adultery, by John Martin Borg, 2002

Woman Caught in Adultery, by John Martin Borg, 2002

THIS Jesus. Who welcomes your questions and inquisitions, because He knows that our wonderings about our Savior can only lead us to salvation.

THIS Jesus. Who isn’t put off by your doubts, because He knows that a single encounter with Him has the power to quell them all.

THIS Jesus. Who knows every piece of your past but doesn’t define you by any of it. Who sees you not as you were but as who He is forming you to be. Because when it comes down to it, it’s why He came and died in the first place.

THIS Jesus. Who calms your fears and never shames you for them, because He knows that fixing your eyes on His face will keep you walking on that metaphorical water and a touch of His assurance will lift you when you feel your feet sinking.

THIS Jesus. Who perfectly epitomizes loyalty, trust, and faithfulness, because He knows what it feels like to be betrayed, lied to, and ignored. Because He gets it, He gets us.

THIS Jesus. Who is your friend eternal even when—and most especially when—no one else wants the role. Who never stabs you in the back or fails to defend you. Who never has a bad report to give about you. Who never wants to turn away. Because He of all people understands what it’s like to lose a friend forever.

THIS Jesus. Who trades your thousand regrets for a thousand and one victories. Who exchanges your mourning for dancing. Your sadness for songs. Because He is your victory. He is your song.

THIS Jesus. Who says you belong even if the whole wide world wants no ownership. Because this Jesus knows rejection.

THIS Jesus. Who never gives up on you even if everyone else has. Even if you have given up on yourself. Because He—and neither they nor you—puts the final punctuation mark on your story.

THIS Jesus. Who doesn’t care what anyone else says about you, because His estimation is the only one that really counts.

THIS Jesus. Who lifts your head when life has knocked you down.

THIS Jesus. Who is LOVE unrestrained.

THIS Jesus. Who is TRUTH unadulterated.

THIS Jesus. Who is HOPE. And GRACE. And PEACE.

THIS Jesus. Who is for YOU and FOR you. Always and Forever.

THIS Jesus. Who WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME. Who humbly came down to us, who fully loved each one of us. Who healed the sick and served the poor and loved the sinner even more. Who bled and died then conquered death, who rose to life when all seemed lost. Who bridged the divide between God and humanity. Because no one else could have or would have.

jesuswithcross

THIS Jesus. Who loves us now and heals us still and beckons us to come on in. To join with Him forevermore and lay aside our earthly scores. To be reconciled at long last to our loving God who knows our names and every thought and craves us all the more.

THIS Jesus. THIS one. THIS One and Only Savior Strong. Mighty in Life and Triumphant in death. Overcomer. Powerful God. Forgiver. Lover. Friend. Redeemer.

Jesus Christ. Lord and Messiah.

This JESUS. This one.

GodIsLove

So forget what you know. Forget what you saw. Forget the falseness of the feigned Jesus some have presented. And look past the apparent imperfections of His people, the massive mistakes of the devoted masses, the glaring hypocrisy of stifled religiosity. Ignore the finger-pointing of the picketers, the pride of the protesters, the political pundits and maneuverers. Think not about the naysayers. Forget the Bible-bludgeoners. Overlook the know-it-alls and the told-you-so’s, those who shun and those with minds closed. Look beyond human habits and what comes to us so naturally. Demolish the misrepresentations.

For none of us who claim His name will get it exactly right. Most of us will (eventually) let you down. All of us will (daily) miss the mark somehow.

But beyond the distractions of our hypocrisy and our muddled messages. Right in front of you now—this day, this hour, this very moment—is THIS Jesus. THIS Jesus Authentic. Alive and waiting. Beckoning you now.

THIS Jesus for YOU. And for YOU. And forever.

THIS Jesus. Just. THIS.

Matthew 8