The small playground in my backyard was without a sliver of doubt my most cherished place. I was currently the world record holder in achieving the greatest speeds ever of traveling down that hot, metal slide. It was there in the Spring of 1976 I found Jesus, as a wild haired four year old boy. This is my first memory, the first step in what has been a joyful, dangerous, determined, loving, and harrowing journey.
It was just a few hours earlier I was sitting in Sunday School, listening to my teacher share the iconic verse of Christianity with us.
“For God so loved the world, he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
This passage empowered her stories of her own personal experiences of God’s love and mercy into my four year-old brain. The Bible was clear – believe that each of us has sinned, in we desperately need God’s love and forgiveness, and that Jesus is the only path to God.
Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We live in a world that too often worships intellectualism, sex, bizarre theology, humanism, and our heart’s desires. None of these will provide peace, and most assuredly, they won’t lead any of us closer to eternity with the Father. We practice in making the clear to be unclear, and the plan of salvation anything but. In Galatians 5:1 the Apostle Paul states “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get ted up again in slavery to the law.”
Sin creates slaves. Slaves to porn. Slaves to materialism. Slaves to emotions. Slaves to being a better you. Slaves to religions that tie up heavy burdens or provide confusing doctrines. Slaves to political ideologies. Each of us has been a slave to something, yet Jesus has blazed a new path for you, one built with truth, dignity, and love.
We recognize two truths. We have sinned, and Jesus Christ has done all they heavy lifting to free us from our sin. If we choose to believe this, and decide to follow Jesus for the rest of our days, then we will be saved…yes, SAVED from an eternity in Hell. It is why Jesus is referred to as our Savior, or most commonly, The Messiah.
It’s the word you knew was coming, right? Hell is a very real place, as the scriptures show us, and we know the Bible points us to both a literal Heaven and Hell. It isn’t okay for me to sugarcoat this, and if I did I would not honor you or my Heavenly Father who loves each of us with all of his heart. He has created a path for you and for everyone to spend eternity in paradise with him, but this is a choice no one can for you. Or for anyone else.
Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly,” in John 10:10, and it is within these promises we place all of our hope. God has a distinct plan for you, friend, and this may very well be “that” moment when you embrace your truest identity, as a beloved daughter or son of the most high God.
This isn’t about some secret handshake. It isn’t about being a better person, or having your life cleaned up. And it most certainly isn’t about being religious.
It’s about Jesus. Just Jesus. And you.