Picture Jesus standing there, point his finger at you, Uncle Sam’s Americana outfit is optional. Only instead of calling you to war, or to a major furniture sale, Jesus is calling for you to accept his love. Far too often, the perception is that there is some game being played, maybe even a war being waged, and the sides are Christian vs. Non-Christians. You hear a lot of “us” vs. “them”, and how we as the “us” are going to reach “them”. That is a thought process that needs to stop immediately, because Christians are not any better than Non-Christians, they merely have accepted the gift that Jesus offers to all of us. And just because Non-Christians do not attend church every Sunday, or own a Bible, or any of the other things expected of a Christian; all of that does not mean that Jesus loves a Non-Christian any less. We, as humans (and His children and creation) have all been created equally, with the same amount of love.
With that said, I want to talk to any Non-Christians that may clicked through to this post. The theme of what I am writing is simple: I want you in church this Sunday. Not so that attendance numbers can rise. Not so that more money can go to the church. Not because I am shooting for a number of converts so that I can earn a new “Best Inviter” badge on Good Christian vest. Not so that you can be converted over to our team so we can say we are better. Not for anything like that. Heck, you don’t even have to come to MY church. The reason I want you to go to church on Sunday is because I want you to know and experience the love that is being offered to you by Jesus. Knowing what that is and that He does love you no matter what is quite possibly the most important thing that you can ever know. More important than the answer to 2+2 or how to read (although those are both pretty high up there).
Why is that knowledge so important? Because when everything or everyone else has let you down, that love is still going to be there. The problem is, it is such a hard thing to describe with words, that you have to believe it and experience it. Even if I could describe it with words, you probably wouldn’t understand it, and you would probably just think I was a religious freak. I will say this though: once you truly experience it, you will understand what I mean, and you will know that nothing in this world can truly substitute for it. You can probably find something in this world that will make you feel like you have found a replacement. Like the love of another human, for instance. But is that love really unconditional, unfailing, and full of grace? If you continually make mistakes that hurt the person you are with, will they not only continue to love you, but not give up on you and hope that you know that you were forgiven the moment that you made the mistake? Even when couples stay married for 50 years, I guarantee that they would tell you that their husband or wife does not fulfill them in every capacity. Jesus can do that, and He knows everything about you, all of your thoughts and secrets, and yet still loves you as much as the day you were created.
You won’t be struck by lightning, condemned, looked down upon, etc. In most cases, you will be welcomed with open arms, and therein lies the importance of a church. You can experience the love of Jesus without ever stepping foot into a church building. There is no requirement of church attendance to make it into Heaven or to be loved by Jesus. If, however, you want to be welcomed by a group of loving, caring individuals, people that want to get to know you and help you through the tough times, then you should find a church and try it out. While you can experience the love of Jesus without attending a church, I think that love becomes more tangible when we see it exuded by others that are trying to live like Him. These are not the people from work, or school, or the Starbucks barista, or even the Christians you may heard about that are hypocrites. No, a true follower of Jesus is someone who actually cares when they ask how you have been, actually prays for you when they say they will, and invites you back because they love you enough to want you to experience Jesus in the same way that they have.
If you go to church this Sunday, I’m almost 100% sure that you will not be told that you are going to Hell if you don’t shape up your life soon. This is perhaps the time that I would say that you should come with me on Sunday, to Eastpointe Christian Church in Blacklick (www.eastpointe.cc), because I can promise that you will not be told that. On top of that, I know that the church is full of people like I described above. Wherever you go, the message of Easter should be above the love and sacrifice of Jesus. They should be telling a story of a manwho knowingly came to Earth to die, so that when mess up on a daily basis, we can be forgiven and still have a shot at the trip to Heaven when our time is up.
So why should you even be interested in Jesus at all, let alone going to a church on Easter Sunday? Well it’s like this: this world is a decaying, dying, terrible mess that gets worse everyday. This world is not meant to go on forever, just like we are not meant to live forever. Illness, heartache, tragedy, disaster; they are all things that come with the package that this world has to offer. Many people choose that package over Jesus though because we cannot see Him, and He doesn’t always provide the instant gratification that we can get from things like alcohol, pornography, food, drugs, cigarettes, sex, insert earthly comfort here. The problem with those instant gratifiers, however, is that many of them eventually lead to conflict, which leads to more problems, which leads us back to needing gratification, and it becomes this whole vicious cycle. Point your life towards Jesus, however, and while there will still be problems, you will be headed in the right direction, and you can conquer those problems with His help.
I face problems everyday, but what I wish for those of you that do not have Jesus in your life is that you can feel the same assurance that it will eventually be ok. When I am down and heartbroken, I know that I can go to Jesus and that His love is still there and that He will pull me out of the muck and mire. I cannot imagine the emptiness that must be present for those of you that have to go through life’s heartache without Jesus, and that’s why I want you to come to church this weekend. I don’t know who is reading this, and thus I don’t know you, but I know that I care enough for my fellow man that I want as many people as possible to experience what I experience.
So come to church this Sunday, not because it’s Easter, or because you want to avoid Hell, but because you want to know and experience that Jesus offers. He is holding it out there for you to take. Are you going to reach up and grab it?