There is, however, yet another hidden danger even in presenting Jesus as something real in a world of smoke and mirrors: we may convince the brokenhearted only to appreciate Him.
It's a danger for all of us, really. God is so good, so loving, so amazing, so able that it's easy for us to just be so very glad that He is God, specifically that He is our God. It's why you more often hear Christians say, "Thank you, Jesus," than "I love you, Lord."
Which is weird, right? Because God loves us so very very much, and we, uh, appreciate that. There's even an old hymn that declares, Heavenly Father, we appreciate you.
But if we're being honest, I don't want a God that I can only appreciate. I want a God that I can fall in love with.
And that's going to take more than Him just being something real.
It's going to take more than His healing me. It's going to take more than His redeeming me. It's going to take more than His even loving me.
For me to love God, to really love Him, He's going to have to have a personality all His own. He's going to have to have an essence about Him that isn't related to me in some way. He's going to have to be His own person, His own character in this so-called love story we're writing together. It's precisely this aspect of God that gets lost when we only think of all the things this God can do for us. For me.
But if we look deeper into His story, if we look beyond ourselves and the places where we interact, we'll discover the very character of God. And we might even fall in love with Him.
For example, I love that Jesus is a guy who knows all the answers, but He still chooses to answer questions with questions. It doesn't matter what anyone asks Him, how difficult the question is, or how important, Jesus turns back with yet another question. Because He could be a know-it-all if He wanted to, but it's not His style. He wants us to engage deeply with the questions ourselves. He wants us engaged with our world, with our thoughts, with our own hearts. I love that about Him, even though I realize, too, how incredibly frustrating it is to be on the receiving end of His questions.
I love that Jesus is so comfortable not only in the company of sinners, but in the homes of them. He never engages in a PR stunt; it's all real. It doesn't bother Him to be in the home of the tax collectors, surrounded by sinners, with a prostitute rubbing her hair all over His feet. Today, we might say that's a bit of debauchery, but we don't see Jesus enjoying it as though it were some personal pleasure for Him; He's simply comfortable there. And that's amazing.
I love that Jesus can speak truth and grace in the same sentence, in the same breath, and never get the two confused. When He says things like "Go and sin no more," it's clear that He recognizes the sin that's been committed (truth) but in the very same breath, He's forgiven it (grace). Not a lot of guys can pull that off. Jesus can.
I love that Jesus is casually unshakable. I bet He's got a great deadpan. A great straight-faced, truth-speaking, hint-of-a-grin style that just erupts into enormous laughter after the joke settles in. But I love that He's not dismissive of people even in embracing this characteristic of Himself.
I love a lot of things about who Jesus is that have nothing at all to do with me, that have nothing to do with my brokenness or my sinfulness or my insecurity or my need. He just...is. He's just...Himself. And there's something to love about that.
And I think sometimes, that's what we ought to celebrate more. We spend so much time singing "Jesus loves you," but how much time do we spend telling the seekers, "You're gonna love Him"? How much time do we spend introducing them just to Jesus, just to this guy who has this amazing personality? This guy who could be their friend, who they'd want to be their friend?
We have to start telling people about the God they can love, at least as much as we tell them about the God who loves them. Because people who love you are a dime a dozen and can change on a whim, but this unchanging God....