Yes, I know I’m shamelessly ripping off Philip Yancey’s book title. I confess that I’ve never read the book, but I’m sure it’s good because it was a bestseller at the Christian bookstore I used to manage.
I don’t know of any other way to start this little ditty of prose without explaining something about myself. I was found by Jesus in my mid-20’s. Prior to that I had grown up in a non-religious household. Sure, I’d been to church a few times and most of my family were intermittent churchgoers. I even had a few preachers in my family tree.
But, I took a different road.
By the time I reached my early-20’s I pretty much hated Christianity. I always fancied myself as the deep thinking analytical type and Jesus and his religion made no sense to me. I believed the Bible was an outdated fairytale, God didn’t exist and Jesus either never existed or was deified by his followers, but was just a regular First Century Joe like everyone else. I had developed an apologetic against all things Christian and was quite proud of engaging them in debate – and seeing them flee with their self-righteous tails between their legs.
Observing throughout my life the double standard employed by those claiming to be Christians only made me loathe the idea of God, Jesus, the church and Christians even more. By my estimation I lived a more moral, accepting and “live and let live” life than any of the churchy types I’d ever met. Why would I ever want to be one of them?
But God has a way of saving us from ourselves.
Now, I knew from the early says that Jesus was either one of two things: Either he was just chomping at the bit to send me to Hell for all my sins, or he was a quasi-effeminate spiritual loverboy who didn’t care what I’d done, he just wanted to “save” me (whatever that meant).
The short of the long is, Jesus did just that very thing.
He saved me.
From what? Well, for starters he saved me from having to one day face God armed with nothing but the big pile of feces I’d been collecting my whole lifetime called my “good works”.
I can imagine the scene: “Here God, hear ya go. The contents of my septic tank of a life. It’s not as bad as it looks or smells. Look, I never cheated on my wife. Look, I always gave to the Salvation Army. Look, I never hurt anyone or killed anyone even. I respected my parents. I went to church. I was a good person!”
Jesus made me realize that all the slop, filth and rebellion that was my life were laid upon him and made to disappear beneath the river of blood that ran from his head, hands, back, feet and side. In Jesus I was made as if I’d never offended God by breaking ever last jot and tittle of his Law. The punishment I deserved as the criminal was pushed aside on the Innocent and I was pronounced “Not guilty!” by God himself.
All on account of Jesus.
This was the Jesus I never knew.
My aim from heretofore is to blog often about some aspect of Jesus that captivates me. I’m finding more and more that he is everything I thought he was and nothing I thought he was at the same time.