Last week, I stopped by one of our local automotive parts stores and picked up a couple of electric window switches for our van because neither of them were working. I replaced the driver’s side switch and immediately the driver’s side electric window began to work. This was a huge relief because the air conditioning no longer works on our van and it was getting uncomfortable to drive it when the weather was nice. When I popped off the cover to change the passenger side switch, I quickly saw that the electrical plug had come off of the switch. The clip that holds it in place had broken and with time and vibration, it fell out. All I had to do was plug the connection back into the switch again and everything worked fine. So electric window switches need to be working properly and they need to be connected.
It is the same with us. When we trust in Jesus as our Messiah, the One sent from God to save us, he gives us a new life in which we are connected to him. With Jesus, we enter into a totally different life than what we had before and this new and different life has much different goals.
It is hard for us to imagine what our new life is supposed to be like because this life in this world is all that we know. However, it is important for us to remember that Jesus was not sent by his Father to come into this world and save us for this life. Jesus suffered, died and rose again to save us for the life that we were always meant to have. A life where we live in close, intimate, personal fellowship with the living and loving God. The picture set before us in the first chapters of Genesis is that God’s Plan A was for us to live with him in paradise, where God would live and move among us and we could talk to him at any time about anything. Life, love, joy and freedom was everywhere in abundance, and death, sin and brokenness were nowhere to be found.
That all changed when our first parents disobeyed God. All of creation was corrupted and death, rebellion and suffering became the norm. All of that is part of our old life and Jesus did not come to save us for that. He came to save us for the life-with-God life, even though it was given to us at a great cost to Jesus. Using “the Son of Man” as a nickname for himself, Jesus told his followers, “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things. He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” (Luke 9:22).
It is because Jesus actually did what he said he was going to do and rose from the dead that we can confidently live the life-with-God life. Even now, as we live as broken people in this broken world, we have close, intimate, personal fellowship with the living and loving God. We live, move and have our being in him and he lives in us. We can talk to God at any time about anything. And our life-with-God will get better and better as our old life in this world groans, sighs and fades away. In the moment of our death, Jesus will usher us into the presence of God where we rest and wait for the Day of Resurrection. That’s when Jesus will come back to this world in a visible way, raise from the dead all who look to him in faith and give them new resurrection bodies that will never grow old, never get sick and never die. We will see Jesus face to face and live with him forever in the renewed, restored and reunited heaven and earth. We will be fully alive, fully human and fully glorifying God forever as we were created and redeemed to do.
So what is the goal of life-with-God? It’s love. As we read in 1 John 4:16, God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:16). With love as the main goal of our life, that means that we need to leave behind everything that inhibits love. We cannot take our old life with its old self-centered, rebellious ways along with us, and that involves pain. As Jesus said to the crowd that had gathered, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. (Luke 9:23-24).
So how badly do you want to live a life that reflects the love of Jesus into the world? With Jesus as your Messiah, you can love others with his love, which is a pure, infinite, unconditional, life-giving love that transforms people into a version of themselves that is infinitely better than anything they could ask or imagine. It’s a love that invites them to be part of a mission of redeeming and restoring all things so the world actually becomes a place where life, love, joy and freedom are everywhere in abundance, and death, sin, brokenness, sickness, sorrow, suffering, death, racism, injustice and prejudice are nowhere to be found. That is the love that Jesus is giving to you. That’s the love that Jesus is inviting you to share with others. Will you do it?
What is the goal of life-with-God? It’s love.
In 2004, the movie The Passion of the Christ became the highest grossing Christian film of all time. In that movie, there is a scene where Barabbas and Jesus are both presented to the crowd, and the crowd is given the power to choose which one will be set free. The crowd chooses Barabbas, and as the ropes are removed from Pietro Sarubbi, who played Barabbas, he looks into the eyes of Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus. That moment was transformative for Sarubbi because it was as if Jesus himself was looking at him. In an interview published online at aleteia.org, Sarubbi said, “I could not imagine that a simple actor playing Jesus could look at me in a way that turned my soul upside-down. From that moment on there was a change in my personal, human, and professional life, because when you’re captivated, you’re captivated in every way.”
He talks about his conversion in this way: “You’re called to a new name and a new life while remaining who you are. And from that moment on an entirely human challenge begins, because there’s no magic wand that transforms you; you remain exactly who you were, but you fall in love with Christ, and your life becomes an attempt to live up to that love. You remain with your sin and your smallness, but you’re enriched by the hope that through prayer you can walk without fear in a new direction.”
“…You remain exactly who you were,
but you fall in love with Christ, and your life
becomes an attempt to live up to that love.”Pietro Sarubbi
Dear friends, I want to encourage you to let Jesus love you deeper and deeper into the life-with-God life. To help you do that, I want to challenge you to grow in expressing your love for Jesus. You can begin by telling Jesus in your thoughts that you love him when you are alone in your quiet time with him. Then say it out loud and say it before others. As you do that, you will find that growing in expressing your love for Jesus will help you to grow in loving him in return and loving others with his love.
I want to challenge you to grow in expressing your love for Jesus.
Do we experience pain as we live the life-with-God life? Yes, but it is the kind of pain that encourages us to lift up our cross, die to our old self-centered life and follow Jesus. Because Jesus is the only One who can heal the world’s pain. And in the end, when we are experiencing the fullness of God’s love and life with him forever, we will look back and say to ourselves, “That was no worse than a mosquito bite.” Amen.