The frustration in the air was palpable.
“I cannot believe they are going!” he sputtered. “They hardly ever come to church. Why would they want to come? They’re going to ruin it. I wish they’d just stay home.” His head dropped as the last words left his mouth. I knew he’d been looking forward to the Passion Conference since last year. He’d immediately booked this year’s tickets as soon as they were available. He talked incessantly about what an experience it had been to worship God with thousands of other college students from across the United States. And it wasn’t just talk.
He was changing.
He was focused on learning about Christ, and his commitment to his faith had deepened.
His frustrated reaction to less involved youth going to the conference surprised me. He was genuinely upset, so I treaded carefully as I picked the words for my response.
“You know, Chris, when you left last year you were so excited to go. It’s all you talked about weeks before you left. Honestly, you haven’t stopped talking about it since you got home eleven months ago. You refer to it constantly and your enthusiasm is infectious. You’ve emphasized to anyone who will listen all the ways it impacted you. Isn’t it possible that these other college students have listened and decided that maybe going to Passion will help them too?” I said.
“I suppose that’s possible,” he replied.
“Maybe they’re tired of settling for the Jesus they’ve been comfortable with and instead are choosing to know the one you keep talking about. The people who need Jesus the most aren’t the ones who already have this faith thing figured out.Jesus didn’t show up to save people who were already saved; he showed up for the sinners willing to take a chance.Click To Tweet
I know you’re excited about this trip, but you aren’t the only one that needs to go. Jesus is going to meet a lot of people there. He’s going to meet anyone there who needs him.”
I stopped talking for a moment as he rested his elbows on the pharmacy counter and turned to look me in the eye.
“Jesus is for everyone,” I said, letting the words fall softly between us.
I took that thought home with me and shared it with my own kids. We’ve chased it around every room in our house until it’s spilled out into the street. We discovered we weren’t always so good at believing that statement, much less holding it out for others to run with. But we’re changing. And it’s a good thing, too, because it seems that everywhere we look in the world people are determined to deny one another something based on some intrinsic or extrinsic characteristic they are measuring.
But friends, no matter what anyone tells you,
No One Can Deny You Jesus.
And he did it for everyone.
No one is more deserving or less deserving of Jesus. We all carry the same kind of sin within the same human hands when we approach the King. Yet he never turns a single one of us away. He ushers each of us ever closer to his heart with each obedient step we take toward the cross and whispers, “You are loved, You are loved, You are loved.”
This concept is difficult for our human heads, hardwired to pick self above all others, to accept. We desperately want to believe that Jesus is just for us.
The chosen. The few.
The ones living in the right zip code and driving the right car. The ones wearing the right skin color and going to the right private schools. The ones praying the right prayers and going to the right church. The ones bearing the right last name and donating the right amount of money.
But that’s not how Jesus works in this upside down kingdom of setting all things right and making all things new. Here, where he works he says things like,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28NIV)
“…that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:15NIV)
All. Everyone.Our world is adept at creating separation at Satan’s command; Jesus uses words of inclusion like All and Everyone.Click To Tweet
He’s for me, He’s for you, He’s for the single mother working two jobs, He’s for the teacher who buys school supplies out of her own pocket, He’s for the grandfather raising his grandkids, He’s for the death row inmate turned preacher, He’s for the Indian mother who killed eight of her infant daughters rather than raise them in abject poverty, He’s for the preacher who’s not so sure he should be preaching, He’s for the teenager who chose abortion over adoption, He’s for every single one of us who calls upon His name.
That is the nature of Jesus, to be the most common of men, with the holiest of hearts, capable of loving and serving all people without discrimination or prejudice.
And He calls us to do the same.