I have grown up in a wonderful home, with two incredible parents who love Jesus, and me, with the entirety of their hearts. Jesus has never seemed strange to me. He has been the topic of more conversations then I can remember at my home growing up. I went to Christian private school as a kid, and learned Bible verses once a week that I ever so perfectly recited to my teachers. As I grew older, I went to youth group, led the worship team, and said all the appropriate answers in small groups.
Fine, I’ll admit it: I was a goodie-goodie.
But today, I need to apologize to you. I need to apologize to anyone whom I have ever spoken to. Anyone who I have ever been friends with. Anyone whom I have ever been unkind to, and I know there are quite a few in this category.
Though I have grown up in a wonderful home, surrounded by people who love and adore Jesus, I have never been like Jesus.
And though I told God I was ready to truly follow Him almost nine years ago, I didn’t truly surrender myself to Him until this year.
You see, for so long I believed that I had to be perfect to be like Jesus. I had to be the girl who had it all together, who knew all the answers. The girl who grew up in the perfect Christian home, with two perfect Christian siblings, and two perfect Christian parents who were and are amazing examples to the people around them.
It turns out that girl is so terribly annoying.
After I grew very tired of trying to be perfect, I tried to be real with Jesus. But I had put on an act for what seemed like such a long time, that I wasn’t quite sure how to just be myself with Him. I was worried that though Jesus may love me, He might not like me. The art of attempting perfection wasn’t working, but the thought of being my lame self was too terrifying to try. So I began to push Him out of my life. I filled my life with a million other things. I tried to get my life to be as busy as humanly possible, so I wouldn’t have to face Jesus. It’s a funny thing - filling up a Jesus-shaped hole with things that are no where near as beautiful or fulfilling as Jesus.
And then, this past year happened. The year of what felt like to me: nothingness. The year I finally allowed my Lord and Saviour to truly take up residence in my heart. I “took the year off”, a phrase in which I have grown to hate since the majority of people assume you are taking a year long vacation. It was my year of sacred solidarity. I came to a screeching halt because I realized I had no idea where my life was going. A lightbulb of recognition flickered on inside of me and I knew my life could go nowhere without Jesus.
I finally realized: perfection is not how people see Jesus. An act of “being good, being right, being righteous” is not how people see Jesus. In fact, I think most people took one look at me and ran away. And hiding is not how people see Jesus, either. Hiding is simply a gesture of cowardice.
People see Jesus through indescribable love, all-powerful peace, and never ending grace.
I didn’t have true love or make true peace or offer true grace to anyone. I just acted the part. And no one can ever see Jesus through a fake, in genuine performance.
So I need to apologize to you. I am so sorry that I did not show you Jesus. What you saw in me was not Jesus. It was just selfish me. Jesus is so much better then that. He is the definition of Love, the authentic Peacemaker, and the perfect illustration of absolute Grace.
This year I fell undeniably in love with Jesus. Most days I still don’t show love, peace or grace to anyone, but I’m working on it. And I’m not perfect and I never will be. But now I’m not striving towards perfection. I’m striving towards being like Jesus. And it turns out, He loves me and He likes me. And He loves and likes you, too. He actually likes you quite a lot.
Now I’m holding Jesus’ hand instead of locking him out of the doors of my heart. Let me tell you... it’s so much better when you don’t have to figure out life on your own.
“Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.” - James 1:27