I have to laugh at how backwards we often get things. Jesus was constantly dealing with how mixed-up many of our common assumptions are. Most people in His day thought that if you were rich, then God must favor you (and many people still believe this). So when He said that it was difficult for a rich man to enter heaven…His disciples pretty much freaked out. They were still following the “rich = favored by God” formula and thought, “Wow, if it is hard for the rich (God-favored) people to get into heaven, it is going to be impossible for us.” But Jesus said, “Nope, you have things backward…many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Think of all the times Jesus had to correct people’s backward thinking! We think it makes sense to strive after safety, but He said, “if you try and save your life, you will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There are tons of examples: Loving your enemies? Having joy during trials and difficulty? Not worrying when it looks like all hope is lost? Jesus just turns our perspectives upside down.
Lately if feels like I am finding more and more of these areas where Christian’s perspectives are clouded, and there is one in particular that cuts right to the heart of our faith. Most people who have been around churches or Christians for very long have probably heard about the concept of “asking Jesus into your heart.” It might surprise you (as it surprised me), that the phrase never shows up anywhere in the Bible. I am not saying that the concept is some kind of sacrilegious theology, but I do think it might (if we are not careful), perpetuate one of those backward perspectives. Again, I am not discounting each individual’s need to make an intentional decision to follow Christ, I am only questioning how we view ourselves in light of God.
If I ask Jesus into MY heart…then it is all about me. That is not how the Bible talks about those who are saved. Again, it is backward. It is not about us asking Jesus into our heart, it is more like Jesus asking us into His heart. If you remember the story where He compares the Kingdom of heaven to a banquet, you will recall that God was the One throwing the banquet, not us. We are not inviting Jesus to our banquets because our banquets are LAME compared to His. This is the reason I felt like writing about the “asking Jesus into our hearts” concept. I think we unintentionally fall into a trap when we talk that way. We can begin to think, “God is probably really excited about me right now. I have a sweet thing going on and I totally remembered to invite Him to be a part of it.” That is wrong.
God will never be content to be a PART of our lives. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Well, I have to take care of work, family, my faith in Jesus, etc. ” Even if we put Him at the top of our list, it is just not the way we are supposed to think about His invitation. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and THE LIFE. It is HIS Kingdom we become a part of, HIS Glory we need to be concerned with, and HIS Power through which we operate. There are a few places in Scripture that talk about Christ being in us, but the vast majority emphasize a different perspective:
- Romans 6:11 – In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
- 2 Cor 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
- Gal 3:27 – for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
It is easy to notice that the pattern of Scripture points toward the fact that we are in Jesus and it is all about Him. It is frightening how many times I have read over those verses and still thought my life is about me. I am going to try and stop inviting Jesus to my banquet – a small dirty table with a few scraps of rotten food, and begin accepting His invitation to the real feast.