by Paula Harrington
I watched as a friend gave her life to Christ recently and loved the way our congregation gathered around to welcome her into the family.
I heard many beautiful words that were offered and several of us (including myself) told her that this was the greatest decision she would ever make. And I can’t stop thinking about that. Because I should have told her that this might also be the most difficult decision she will ever make.
I should have told her that some of us choose to stay on a nice, paved road with frequent rest stops, but sometimes I wonder if Jesus is even on that road. He chose to enter this world in volatile times. He didn’t choose to be born into a wealthy, prestigious family. Nor did he pick twelve highly respected businessmen as his closest friends. He chose the difficult. If I could go back to that night, I’d tell her that sometimes she may need to get off of the safe road because Jesus doesn’t live there.
Living for Jesus isn’t a daily decision. It’s an hour by hour, minute by minute conscience effort to do life like he did. To love like he did. To choose compassion, grace, and mercy over and over and over like he did. Even when we don’t want to. Even when others tell us that we don’t have to. Jesus did it knowing all that would happen. Knowing every tear he would shed, every heart that would break, every broken story he would hear, he still did it.
Christianity isn’t about being sociable on Sunday mornings. It isn’t about the clothes we wear or the pews we warm. It’s being committed to other souls 24/7. It’s standing with the outcast, broken and abused. It’s being an ambassador of peace and love in the middle of chaos and hate. It’s lighting a candle in the middle of a raging storm and being certain that your God won’t let it go out. It’s reckless. It’s disliked. It’s out of the box. It’s not always a Sermon on the Mount experience. Sometimes it’s being in the dungeon with Joseph or the prison cell with Paul.
It’s refusing to listen to the Devil when he whispers that you don’t belong because you’re not good enough. It’s accepting the fact that you’re not and never will be, but that’s ok because God is.
It’s coming face to face with the person in the mirror and knowing every fault, every sin, and every temptation and realizing that the God of Heaven and Earth loves you anyway. It’s finding the strength to say, “I still believe” even when it feels like God isn’t there, because deep down, you know he is.
It’s following and obeying even when it sounds and looks crazy to the world. And even when it doesn’t make much sense to you. It’s making every decision about Jesus. And sometimes it’s falling to your knees and crying for him to just come back already.
Choosing Jesus may be the hardest decision of your life, but it’s the only one in this world that will ever be worth making.