Last night my husband and I went out for a late anniversary date. After our delicious, wood-fired pizza, we decided to walk down to the popular, nearby dam. It was a beautiful summer evening: warm but not hot, gentle breeze, flowers blooming, water flowing. Absolutely gorgeous! But, as we approached the dam, it was clear that something was wrong.
People huddled in silent groups, sat motionless on the ground, or slowly walked by in a daze, all staring intently at the devices in their hands. Go figure, the dam was a popular spot to catch Pokemons! Everyone was playing Pokemon Go.
As one of maybe three or four groups of people who weren’t catching virtual critters, it was surreal to watch. It looked like a scene from a sci-fi movie, and I half expected to see alien spacecraft hovering overhead preparing to extract the zombie victims.
The entire world has become obsessed with hunting and catching Pokemons!
What if Christians were as obsessed with finding Jesus?
People are willing to pack backpacks, drive their cars, join crowds of other people, look dumb, and put massive amounts of effort into catching virtual cartoon characters. What happens once you catch them? Nothing really, at least nothing of actual physical value.
Why aren’t we as willing to put effort into finding Jesus? Maybe…
- We don’t believe it’s possible.
- We are content with knowing about Him.
- We like easy religion.
- We are afraid of what might happen if we actually find Him.
My understanding of the gospel has evolved over the years. As I have been thinking about writing a book, and about all the issues in modern Christianity, I have become obsessed with a gospel centered around relationship. I believe God created people to be in a relationship with Himself. (We see this in Genesis 1-3.) Sin broke the perfect relationship He intended. But, although Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, God continues to talk with and pursue people all through the Old Testament. Eventually, at just the right time, Jesus comes and restores the relationship between God and humanity, and He proves it by tearing the curtain in the temple. (Matthew 27:50-51) Finally, He sends His Holy Spirit to indwell everyone who trusts in Him for salvation! (Romans 8:9-11)
But here’s the deal. If the core message of the gospel is really all about a genuine relationship with Jesus…and if we see every truth of Scripture through that lens…it has potential to leave us with an uncomfortable situation.
Because if it’s NOT about rules or outward behavior, and it IS about seeking the person of Jesus…but we discover that we don’t actually want to pursue a relationship with Him…where does that leave us?
Staring down the motives of our hearts…and coming face to face with the reality of who were are apart from Christ…enemies…who desperately need a Savior!
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” Romans 5:8, 10
Religion leaves me in control, gives me a checklist to make myself feel good, works around my plans and schedule, and is easy to reject if I get tired of it. An actual relationship with Jesus leaves me feeling powerless at times, shows me my sin, might be time consuming, requires faith, and if I reject it, I have to deal with the fact that I’m rejecting Him!
And yet, in the deepest parts of my heart, I know that Jesus is what I really want. I believe that He will absolutely satisfy me. And the things He takes away, or asks me to let go of, well, they probably aren’t as valuable as I think they are.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing (experiencing) Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish (literally poop) in order that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8
Will you hunt for Jesus with me? Even if it gets hard and takes effort? Even if it get’s uncomfortable and we don’t feel like we want to? Even if we are afraid? He has promised that if we look for Him, we will find Him! I’m confident that seeking Jesus is a lot more rewarding than catching Pokemon!