Mention Jesus in conversation, and all of the sudden you get put in a category of religion.
Some people think you want to save them.
Others think you want to make them go to church.
And still more might think you’re presenting a self help option in times of trouble.
The images that flood the mind when speaking of Jesus can be a conglomerate of good, bad, ugly, weird, great, impressive, or maybe even evoke an emotional response.
Many people still have this perception that Jesus is some kind of mythical judge waiting to either condem them for not being good enough, or some kind of pass to forgive those who need a crutch to forgive them of terrible life choices.
Just a few days ago, I was having dinner with a first year Parliment member in a small country called Syrbska. He told me how hard it was to be a newly elected official, try and be present for his newly born son, and be an effective husband to his wife. (All of which seemed to be happening at the same phase in life). He asked me “How do I deal with a day where I battle in politics, take special care of my wife, and learn how to be a father?”
(If that isn’t a loaded question, I don’t know what is)
I began telling him about a physical life and a spiritual life. The physical life is full of ways to accomplish successful goals in our world. But a spiritual life is hard to quantify. Most people would agree we are all physical AND we are all spiritual. And it’s the spiritual part we’re not very good at recognizing.
Don’t get me wrong.
We recognize when someone loves.
We see when someone is wise.
We sense the ominous feeling of fear.
We understand what it means to be a friend.
But how can we simply quantify those most important parts of our lives with math or science? You see, there’s no manuel for how to fall in love, though many would like to try and write books on it.
There’s no sure fired method for becoming wise.
And no matter how hard you try, friendship is often a combination of connection, love, work, and compelling actions to give without expecting anything in return.
I proposed we just look at how one of the greatest teachers who ever lived (Jesus) talks of my new friends questions.
On politics, Jesus asked us to serve Gods Kingdom while on earth. So we have to encourage our spiritual selves to understand WHAT IS GODS KINGDOM?
On family, Jesus asks us to Love our neighbor as we love ourself. He tells us to resolve conflict before the sun goes down, and think of ourselves as last in order to find prominence.
On raising children, Jesus says Let the little children come to me. He doesn’t quantify our time, he just asks us to be present in the time we have.
My new friend looked on in amazement as if he had never heard these things before. “How do I find out more about these teachings?” He asked.
And so we’ve started a friendship to walk through the teachings of Jesus together. And oh, did I mention he’s an Atheist?
No matter who we have the chance to be around, God calls us to Love them. No matter what they believe, God has made it clear they are made in His image. And no matter what agenda we think we have FOR THEM, God has given us the agenda of Jesus by calling him Emmanuel (or God with us) John 1:14
When we employ the teachings of Jesus, there isn’t any need to categorize people.
After all he created all men in His image.
So I hope my friend and I can walk through the teachings of Jesus for a while and see what God does to encourage His spiritual life. After all, is there any greater calling than to reach out and share with others what has so impacted our own lives today?