The central aspect of our Christian lives is a coming to Jesus. It's not only essential for our own walks of faith, but it's what we assume is our duty in others' walks, as well - we're supposed to come to Jesus, and we're supposed to get others to come to Jesus. We even have an opportunity at the end of our church services for persons to do just that. If you need Jesus, please come.
So coming to Jesus has become a thing. Or maybe the thing. Which raises the question - what does it even mean to come to Jesus? Or more importantly, what does it look like?
Because in our culture of coming to Jesus, we've got some pretty solid ideas about this question. We know exactly what it's supposed to look like to come to Jesus.
If you're generally a good person, then coming to Jesus looks very natural. Good persons should just be drawn to Jesus. They should just walk right up and calmly, coolly, comfortably declare, "I want my good life to be even better." And then we celebrate and rejoice and know that a good one has been added among us.
If you're generally a bad person, then coming to Jesus is very dramatic. Bad persons should come to Jesus weeping and wailing, tearing their clothes, crawling on their knees in repentance. If you're a bad person and we all know it and you're not on your knees, we don't believe you. If you're not crying and confessing what a terrible jerk you are, we don't buy it. You're not coming to Jesus. You may be taking a few steps toward Him, but you're not bringing your heart. No, if you're a bad person, you'd better just cough out your heart and carry it in your hands. That's what coming to Jesus ought to look like. A bad person out to be saying, "I am a sinner, a wretched sinner, and I do not know how to do any other."
If you're generally a broken person, then coming to Jesus is very desperate. Broken persons walk the aisle with quiet, heavy tears streaming down their faces. They slump their way to the Cross, carrying this heavy load of all that's been required of them just to be human for the first part of their lives. They come slowly, dragging their feet and dragging their pasts and wiping tear-filled snot on their sleeves until they collapse into the chair in the front of the auditorium. Broken persons declare, "I want my hard life to be easier." And then we pat them on the back and tell them that it's going to be. It's going to be easier now. They've done a great thing for themselves. Jesus is here.
Interestingly enough, we've got some ideas about those who just should never come to Jesus at all, too. And they look an awful lot like these first three.
If someone's coming to Jesus just because they want their good life to be better, just because they think it's going to be good to be blessed, then we don't think they should be coming to Jesus at all. Jesus is not an investment package, we tell them. He's not a cushion plan. If all you want from Jesus is His good things, don't come.
If someone's coming to Jesus because they don't know how to stop sinning, then we don't think they should be coming to Jesus at all. You're a sinner, we tell them. Stop sinning, then come. If you can't do even the most basic things to make yourself a decent person, don't come.
If someone's coming to Jesus because they are broken and want Him to heal them, then we don't think they should be coming to Jesus at all. Jesus is not the latest over-the-counter fad to try. He's not the latest diet pill. If all you want from Jesus is His healing touch, don't come.
So we've created all these rules by which the good, the bad, and the broken are supposed to come to Jesus, and then we've thrown on top of that even more restrictions and guidelines and judgments about whether they should even come at all.
Thankfully, the Gospels have given us some incredible stories about good, bad, and broken men and women who came to Jesus. We have a lot to learn from these stories, and we'll take a look at a few of them this week. Stay tuned.