Jason Coker, has asked me to take part in a series on his blog, under the following premise:
You've just met a young American (or British, for you folks on the other side of the pond) adult who is utterly irreligious. Having been raised by agnostic parents, their family never attended any kind of religious gathering, and - although they understand what "religion" is and have been exposed to different religious practitioners - they don't really know anything about Jesus Christ or Christianity. But they're curious, so - knowing you have something to do with Christianity - they ask you three simple questions:
Who is Jesus Christ?
What has he done?
Why does it matter?
Jason asked for 300 words or less and for us to answer how we want to. Here's my first run at this challenge, and it's more than 300 words (oops)...
We all try to make sense life, what the meaning of life is, asking what is my purpose here, what is a good life, at least for myself? And we all seem to get one shot at this life, one chance to take all that we are and invest it into our best answers to those questions. At this time in history, and even when I was younger (I know it was some time ago), life seems about competition, survival of the fittest, and doing to others before others do it to you. Or as my gentle white haired grandma used to say, 'take care of yourself grandson, because in this life I've learned no-one else will'.
It's not that we don't want life to be about more than this, it's just that in our fast paced consumer world, being successful, getting ahead, looking out for yourself, is what our friends and family and so often we default to. And even if you wanted to, you can't jam the system, there is no way to opt out of the juggernaut for getting ahead in life. It's the way things are, so either drop out, or get stuck in.
And the effort and investment to get ahead, is kept alive and made worth while by the prize of what we think life is about, maybe a great career, great family, holidays, living somewhere cool, and retiring early. Where we live, what job we do and what relationships we have reveal the answers to what we really think the meaning and purpose of life is about, they are the real investments we are making, daily with all we are. It's our life, we are kings of our kingdom with our decision and choices, as we decide who and what we are, and what we bring into our lives, as we make a life.
Jesus was someone who understood what life was about, and decided to invest his life very differently. Instead of getting ahead, he said he had come to serve others, that his investment was into a different reality and economy, which he called 'The Kingdom of God'. That life, this life was about investing all we have, time, energy and money, our heart, soul, body and mind in a different reality. He said that jobs, where we live and relationships are very important, we've got that part right, but how we invest ourselves for those aspects of life is very different.
He even told us not to worry about all these things, that the reason we worry is because we fear losing things we shouldn't be putting our heart and soul into in the first place. And he did more than talk about this new reality, he lived it. Every day, every breath, every step, he invested his life in helping others see that life was about knowing God, and entering into the plans God has for us. Using our gifts, and skills, passions and interest to invest in God's economy. And he said that if we do that, God will give the best life we could ever have. And he said that if we practice this life investment, our lives will continue, after death into eternity. Jesus brought a warning too, reminding us to take care. That where we invest our lives determines who we become now and forever, so choose wisely.
Jesus invitation seems so impossible, it was as impossible 2,000 years ago as much as it is now. In fact people intent on investing in a way of life much like ours today, eventually put him on a cross and killed him. And as they looked at him dying with no friends, no job, no career, no success, and no status they asked him, 'where is your God and this way of life now'?
But he didn't stay dead, you see the new economy and way of life Jesus had invested in, was real, and who he was and who he had become, carried on just like he said. The investment in God's kingdom saw Jesus rise from the dead. He then told and showed others how his investment had paid off. And we can choose where to invest, when those pressures of life seem insurmountable, that's when we get to do what Jessus did and invest in him. Jesus said we'd need to pick up our cross, to practice life like he did, for others. We invest our life in this new economy, by investing it in him with others. Every day as we look at where we invest ourselves for work, where we live and who we have relationship with, is a chance to pick up our cross and invest in the same life Jesus did.
I was 17 the first time someone explained to me who Jesu was and is, and why it mattered, and maybe if I tell you what that friend told me, it will sum up what I'm trying to say here? My friend said that, investing my life in Jesus, taking all that I am and giving it to Him, might not make my life easier, in fact in lots of ways it would be much harder. But he promised me that, I would have something to live for and something to die for, that there wouldn't be a day when I wouldn't know meaning, adventure and purpose.
I chose to make that investment, and 24 years later, I have experienced the most amazing life, with all of that and more. The depth and richness of discovering who I am, the most amazing experience of life with others, as I daily try to invest all I have in Him, has been stunning. I'd love to tell you more about that sometime. Choosing Jesus was the best investment I ever made with my life. Where are you investing yours?
And something from the Bible, from people who first learned about this investment and started to experience it with Jesus. Romans 12, '1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.'