It’s the old classic break up line, you want to soften the blow of rejection so you put it on yourself, your insecurity, your fear, your worry, your stress, your inability to commit. It may be truth or it may be a cop out.
Because the truth is, new relationships are scary, they require vulnerability, honesty, a change in your priorities, commitment to something new. Beginning a relationship with Jesus is no different. I know for some it’s the obvious choice, but it didn’t feel like that to me all those years ago. There are different stages and phases in the beginning of relationship that I needed to walk through, and that caused panic, doubt and worry.
I’ll be honest, when I first started my “relationship” with Jesus, I had no plans for the future. I was doing nothing more than a box ticking exercise. Some new friends had invited me to their church. I knew it wasn’t for me, I was merely going along to be polite, to check the box, and then I could have a ready excuse for any further invites. I’d grown up in church and knew religion wasn’t for me. What I didn’t realise was that God wasn’t looking for my religion, he wanted a relationship.
THE FIRST DATE
It was nice, the people were cool, the place was friendly, dare I say even attractive. But my life was pretty nice. It wasn’t really, it was a disaster, but I didn’t realise at the time. So, I ticked the box and checked out. I was thankful for the nice day and the warm, welcoming environment, but I didn’t really see me going back.
THE SECOND DATE
Well, I guess the first date wasn’t so bad and, to be honest, it’s kinda been on my mind a bit, and well I can’t really think of too many reasons why I wouldn’t go back, like really, what harm would a second date do? This is a casual arrangement, I don’t have to if I don’t want to, but it was nice so why not?
SEVERAL DATES LATER
Gosh, you know, the more time I spend here the better it becomes. I love that warm fuzzy feeling I get, the company is excellent, I always enjoy myself, I always leave feeling better that I went, and when I’m not there I think about it, it plays on my mind a lot. Strange really how much comfort it brings me.
Wow!! Hold up there, cowboy! relationship?? Like I mean, it’s been rad! More than rad, I love my time with you, but, but ,but, Relationship! Really, like commitment! That seems pretty major. Things are pretty good as they are, casual. You know I have my own life, do my own fun stuff without you, and then hang out for Super Sundays and it’s all good. Why would I need more than that?
Jesus isn’t interested in only hanging out for super Sundays, he doesn’t want just a piece of your week, he wants to be part of all of your week.
Ok, ok, I get you, but you don’t understand, I have some issues. Like… IT’S NOT YOU IT”S ME.
Ok, well first up, this commitment thing, you see my worry is I’m a bit whimsical, you know, and if I commit and then mess up I will be the worst in the world, so maybe if I didn’t make a serious commitment, when I mess up it won’t seem so bad.
At first I was so worried about this, my classic trait at the time was disappointment. I felt like everything I tried I failed at, especially relationships. I was so worried that I’d make this big declaration, then sometime later regret it or not live up to a standard or something, and ultimately let myself and God down. Over six years later I’m still here and, yes there have been times I’ve got it wrong, messed up, let myself down, let God down, but God has never EVER given up on me and never left me; his grace covers all my mishaps.
“See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.””
Isaiah 12:2 NLT
I’m still pretty young to be making such a major commitment, I don’t feel like I’ve properly lived my life, experienced everything I need to before I settle into this serious relationship. Maybe I should wait until I’m a bit older.
I thought I was going to miss out on all the fun stuff being a Christian. And yes, I guess there are times that I feel that pull of temptation to seek out the things I once found pleasure in before knowing God, but now I know those pleasures are all relatively short lived, and often come with a bunch of consequences. I’ve realised that no material stuff or no worldly pleasure brings the same joy and contentment in life as being in God’s will.
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
Psalms 16:11 NLT
Hey, I’ve had a pretty rough ride. I don’t really know if I can trust you, like if you’re so good and you love me so much, why has my life been so messed up till now?
This was something that I really struggled to understand in the beginning. If God was so darn good, where had he been when all the crap stuff was happening throughout my life? As I have gotten to know and understand God’s heart for me, I’ve realised that God has always been there beside me in this broken world with broken people making bad decisions. I’ve got to see where God had been in certain situations. With his power grace and love, I have been able to work through some deep roots of pain, hurt and unforgiveness, which has brought a great amount of comfort and freedom from my past.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT
You know what, I think my life is ok, I don’t really feel like I need anymore things in it, new friends, new commitments, new expectations.
It’s hard to recognize the God size hole in your heart until you know God. You can probably tell there is something missing, but not sure what because there is an emptiness. I kept searching for a fulfillment in other stuff and people and pleasures. It’s only when I put God in the place of the other stuff that I realised he was a perfect fit for the empty space in my heart.
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.”
1 John 3:1 NLT
I’ve seen how some of these friends of Jesus behave and their hearts are not good, and they are judgemental, and really I don’t think I would fit in too well, and honestly I’m not sure I would want to be part of that; if the people who represent Jesus are like Jesus, maybe I’m better off without.
People can be really let us down at times, like I said before, we live in a broken world filled with broken people. Sadly, churches aren’t exempt from this. Church is a bunch of broken people being made whole through Jesus, they are work in progress. They will get it wrong, sometimes they will hurt people and get it wrong. Also there is the religious Christian that sees being a Christian as something you can earn or achieve. Salvation is a gift from God, paid by Jesus. You can’t good deed your way into heaven, you can’t fancy dress your way into heaven, you can’t double tithe your way into heaven, you can’t serve your way into heaven. Only relationship with Jesus will do that for you.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 NLT
Yes, I know starting a new relationship can be daunting, but a relationship with Jesus will be the best decision you ever make. You don’t need to worry about your past, you don’t need to wait till your perfect, you don’t need to stress incase you mess up, and you never ever need to be concerned about him leaving you.
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.””
Matthew 28:18-20 MSG