Pocket Jesus

Faith stones

I still remember the day I first laid eyes on the woman who would become my wife. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

Eleven years of marriage and six (soon to be seven) kids later I think she’s even more beautiful. I know her better now. Then my knowledge of who she is was superficial. Today my understanding is deeper. I still have a lot more to learn.

Building intimacy in relationships takes time. It can be messy. Sometimes it’s hard. There are highs and lows. I am enjoying the process. I look forward to growing in knowledge about my bride for the rest of our lives.

This process is true of every relationship. Not everyone enjoys it. Sometimes superficiality is easier.

With that in mind I have a question: What’s your favorite Bible verse?

Do you have it memorized? Is it written on a fridge magnet, bumper sticker, or t-shirt? Is it hanging over your mantle?

How about your least favorite verse? Does that one get a prominent place in your heart, mind, and home?

I know many Christians who wear out their favorite books and passages in their Bibles. I think that is a good thing. It is good to dwell on the truth of God’s Word. But it’s good to dwell on all of it. Even the stuff that makes us uncomfortable. Especially the stuff that makes us uncomfortable. It’s just as true.

When is the last time you read Obadiah? Leviticus?

Jesus said Moses wrote of Him (John 5:39-47). The Apostle Peter preached that all the prophets testified of the awesome promises of salvation through the Messiah (Acts 10:43).

Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NASB). Eternal life doesn’t start after we die. It is a present tense possession. It is getting to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

Do you want to know Jesus? I mean really know Him? I hope so.

If so we should be diligent to meditate on the totality of God’s Word. God’s character is revealed on every page. Not just our favorite passages. If we only focus on our favorite parts we are keeping ourselves partially in the dark. We are maintaining a superficial relationship with God. It is being willfully ignorant. It is suppressing the truth.

If taken too far it is idolatry.

Many people don’t like the Old Testament. They think the God portrayed there is different from Jesus. Jesus didn’t agree with that. He said that if you’ve seen Jesus you’ve seen the Father (John 14:7-10).

When I was in college a friend of mine used to carry around a Buddha statue in his pocket. He would pull it out from time to time and rub its belly. He said it brought him good luck. It brought him comfort.

Do we do that with Jesus, too? Make a version of Jesus that we are comfortable with? A “Jesus” that we can carry in our pocket and take out when it’s convenient? A “Jesus” we can put back in our pocket when we are done with Him?

The truth is God is bigger than we think. More glorious. Holier. Better. More loving. More righteous. More terrifying. More awesome.

When we get comfortable with God there is a good chance we’ve created a version of God we can carry around in our pocket. A God who is content with our checking in with Him from time to time.

It is true that by grace we can approach Him with boldness. But we need His grace because without it we would be destroyed. Approaching with boldness is different from approaching casually.

The God of the Bible commands us to love Him with all (100%) of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37-38 NASB).

He also said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NASB).

That’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s challenging. Read Amos 4 if you haven’t recently. God is willing to do things many people don’t realize to bring His people back to Him. God is serious about His relationship with us. He’s serious about His Name being glorified.

Any Jesus we are comfortable with is a Jesus we can put in our pocket. The real Jesus is worth getting to know. The real Jesus will stretch us. He’ll challenge us. He’ll conform us to His image. He won’t leave us the same as He found us. He promises to reveal Himself to His people more and more.

He doesn’t reveal Himself to us from our pocket. He chooses to continue to reveal Himself to us when we have His commandments and obey them.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NASB)

Knowing the true and living God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent is eternal life. We get to know God by keeping His commandments and walking with Him in this life. We learn about God’s commands in His Word.

This isn’t legalism. It’s life. Not earning our way to God by obedience. Enjoying the relationship with God since we have been reconciled to Him by grace through faith in Christ.

I don’t know about you but I am enjoying the process. I look forward to growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior.

Do you? Don’t settle for a pocket Jesus.

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