Life with Jesus
How would you finish this sentence – ‘My life would be better if…?’
For some the answer might be, ‘if I had more money’. For others: ‘if I had a better education’; ‘if I had a life free from illness or addiction’; ‘if I had more friends’; ‘if I was in a relationship’; or ‘if I had more fun’.
Yet, the Bible shows that the real answer is, ‘if I knew Jesus Christ’. Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). The best life we can have is knowing him as our Saviour and Lord. So what is such a life like?
We need to understand that the fundamental problem in our lives and in this world is sin. Not in the sense that all of us are as wicked as we possibly could be, rather that none of us are as good as we ought to be. God’s standard is clear – absolute perfection. Anything else is sin.
So we’re sinners. Big deal – isn’t sin a bit of fun that doesn’t hurt anyone?
A common view, but a wrong one. Right from the beginning God made it clear that sin is not something he will overlook (Genesis 2:15-17). Sin is something he has promised to punish in a real place called hell. Our greatest need is to be saved from this sin.
How can we be saved? The answer is that Jesus came into this world with one mission, to ‘save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).
He accomplished this by dying on the cross. His death was not a tragic loss of a good man. It was the purposeful plan of God, in which Christ took the punishment we deserved in order that we could be entirely forgiven. Knowing Jesus means knowing forgiveness.
Imagine being at a concert of your favourite pop star, singer or classical music artist. Before they play, they take the microphone and announce, ‘I just want to say at the beginning of this concert how good it is to have my good friend … here.’ You are staggered. It’s you they’ve mentioned; they know who you are!
Now Christ is the Son of God and through him everything was made. How incredible that he might know your name! Yet, the Bible tells us this is true for every-one who trusts in him. The good shepherd ‘calls his own sheep by name and leads them out’ (John 10:3).
It gets even better. Not only does Jesus know the name of each of his followers, he cares for them, provides for them, guides and protects them.
A life with him leads to true contentment, not because every circumstance is just what we want, but because we face it all with the Lord.
George Bernard Shaw once made a telling statement: ‘One out of one dies’. It’s true; death is not a respecter of persons. But the Bible is clear that death is not the end.
It is also clear on what happens after death. ‘Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement…’ (Hebrews 9:27). Remember our greatest problem. We are sinners and God has said he will judge sin. We will face that judgement when we die.
Is there any hope for us? The answer is yes, because God says, ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
What is eternal life going to be like? The Bible talks about a new heavens and a new earth; it talks of a perfect relationship with God and a complete end to death, crying and pain.
Does it sound too good to be true? Yet, God has promised this will be the future for all who know Jesus. They won’t be condemned for the imperfection of their lives; instead, having been forgiven by God in Christ, they will be part of his kingdom for ever and ever.
Jesus made it clear that there would be a cost in following him. He said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). Being a Christian is not an easy life, yet the Bible tells us it is well worth it.
Forgiveness alone is a precious gift from God, but in Jesus we receive so much more. Paul, one of the Bible’s writers, describes it like this: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3).