The Jesus who is often dangled before the masses these days is not the real Jesus. We may not know just how far, how deeply, and how widely the prosperity pseudo-gospel of hypergrace has infiltrated the church. Suffice to say that huge swathes of the contemporary church have been deceived by a Jesus of neoliberal capitalist consumerism, a caricature of the American dream. From Joel Osteen to Creflo Dollar, from globalized American televangelist tycoons to local church personalities associated with scandals and real estate, we see a Christianity in crisis: shallow, truncated, delusional, presumptuous, deceiving, exploitative, and damaging to the soul.
One can ask this legitimate question: "Why do we need Jesus? What are we seeking from Jesus?" For many, it is seldom (if at all) because we treasure Jesus as our supreme joy and love. Rather, it is because of the many worldly blessings we can procure from Him. But in the process of trying to satisfy our hidden and not so hidden desires, we end up distorting and perverting God into our image and defacing the gospel into the golden calf of our idolatry.
If we are honest with ourselves, we want Jesus for things like youthfulness and perfect health, exorbitant wealth, career promotion, business success, romantic fulfilment, reproductive escalation, elevated sales closures, sports cars and bungalows, business class air tickets, royal hotel suites, and all the other luxuries and comforts that the American dream says we deserve and should strive to get. We remember to pray only when we are in need or lacking in something we want.
False preachers massage our egos and add fuel to the fire of our cravings by deceiving us with a Jesus that is really not Him but a genie by whose "finished work" we are all supposed to receive these blessings effortlessly and indefinitely. This is what we have been told to want Jesus for. And it slips right into the comfort zone of our self-indulgent flesh.
As human beings, we need food, shelter, safety, work, belonging, and relationships. There is nothing wrong with that. We are all designed to be relational beings with God as our Provider and Refuge. But Jesus came primarily to reconcile us to God, to break the curse of sin and pay its price so we who are called to believe and follow Him can enjoy Him, savour Him, delight in Him, love and know Him, and grow more fully into the likeness of Him, dwelling with Him in the new heavens and new earth as our eternal purpose in God.
Everyday, in every moment, I know how weak and vulnerable I am and how much I need Jesus. In myself, I am nothing. In Him, I can be everything. Not to get everything but to be everything for Him so that His glory is in every way magnified.
I need Jesus to open my eyes in the morning. I need Jesus to walk steadily and surely. I need Jesus to eat and digest my breakfast. I need Jesus to speak words of coherence and clarity. I need Jesus to breathe without obstruction. I need Jesus to come in and go out safely.
I need Jesus to illumine and renew my mind with His Word. I need Jesus to lead my spirit into His plans and purposes for me. I need Jesus to draw me deeper into His sweet majestic Presence unlike anything the world of matter and consciousness can offer. I need Jesus to show me the way I should go, the steps I should take, and the turns I should make to enter more fully into His mission for my life.
I need Jesus to forgive me of my sins in quiet and sometimes weeping repentance. I need Jesus to help me love more deeply, give more generously, serve more selflessly, worship more humbly and theologically, and identify more deeply with His Body which is the church. I need Jesus to equip, enable, and empower me for missional living and to proclaim His gospel to a lost and dying world. I need Jesus grow and transform me from glory to glory into someone more and more like Himself.
I need Jesus to strengthen and comfort me in times of trial and persecution so that I may show Christ in all I am and all I do. I need Jesus to resurrect this body from corruptibility into incorruptibility so together with Him and all His saints, we can put an end to Satan's lease on earth and usher in God's kingdom. I need Jesus because He wants me to need Him and love Him, so that when I am most satisfied in Him, He is most glorified in me. And His glory is everything. Absolutely.
Friends, I don't know why you need Jesus or if you feel you need Jesus at all. Perhaps you don't. And you don't care. But if my words speak to you in any way, I urge you to seriously consider the invitation of the Lord—to believe in and into Jesus, relating to Him as your Lord and God and Saviour, entering into a new and abundant life in Him. I believe time is running out. Each moment, each day is precious because of our Christ-heralding, Christ-exalted future. Carpe diem in light of the new creation to come. We all need Jesus.
Let us be like Paul for whom "... to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). May we when we come to die, be able to say with Paul that we've "... fought the good fight, ... finished the race, [and] ... kept the faith" (see 2 Timothy 4:7).