Jami and Zach,
I hope that someday you can love people in ways I was never able to.
There are many people I know right now that are dear to me that haven’t surrendered their lives to Jesus. I want them to be able to have a chance to see what I see when it comes to who Jesus is.
What makes it better is that my good friends aren’t idiots: they are smart and they see the real John Miller. Full of his mess. They know I’m not better than anyone. I’m a mess just like the rest of us. However, my mess has a very real answer through the lens of Jesus.
This is where I struggle.
There is so much I have learned, seen and experienced and it’s hard to get it out in a way that is digestible and understandable from their point of view. And it doesn’t make it easier that there are so many horrid examples out there of what people think it means to be a follower of Jesus. As if Jesus was some kind of garment you put on making us all act the same and have identical beliefs. I want them to be able to hear my heart, even if my words get in the way.
Pam said to me last week, “Everyone deserves a chance to say ‘no’ to Jesus. It’s up to them from there, but it’s our job to give them a fair chance.”
We are like cars
I believe that God made people to run on Him, just like a car was made to run on gasoline. I don’t think that being a follower of Jesus is limiting, I think it’s freeing. For example, in order to get the most out of your car you need to understand how it was designed. Once you see that, you can go anywhere. But if you break it’s core design and rule; the car won’t work. It needs gas, specifically, gas. It’s how the engine works. You can put other things in the tank: water, milk, beer, cool-aid… but it will destroy your car. In the same way, I believe we were made to live surrendered to God through Jesus.
But it’s hard to explain that to people I love, who have different experiences, joys and pains of their own.
“You’re wrong” is just wrong
Whenever I want to talk about Jesus, or address how I handle a situation as a follower of Jesus, I don’t want my friends to hear, “You are wrong, I am right.” Or, “Your are wrong, follow this God, my way.” They shut down. I would shut down if I were them. It sounds so arrogant and self righteous. Right or wrong; doesn’t matter. I’ve lost my great friends from the start.
Show them something beautiful
It’s one thing to say to someone, “Don’t you realize you are putting milk in your gas tank? You should use Gas, like the car is designed.” It’s another thing to ask them to take a ride with you. Show them the country side. Show them the beauty you think they are missing. “Your wrong, I’m right” is top down with you looking down. Showing them something beautiful is about walking next to them, being a good listener and letting them get to see what God has done in your life. And it’s going to cost us something.
One way is quick and easy: Believe this, because you are wrong and I have mastered all answers.
The other way is more humble and honest: I believe something that is transforming me and the way I see the world. Wanna take a look?
I want to say is something simple: “I want to give you a chance to see something with me. I’m pretty sure both of us come out different on the other side if we let it.”
Through time, here is what I would eventually want to say:
I believe in God. I believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. I believe God made the world beautiful and for us to be in relationship with Him. I believe that we choose to run our own lives instead of be in relationship with God. I believe this choice, separates us from God. We are living on the other side of that choice: We can do this on our own and it isn’t working out. I believe that God has been pursuing every man, woman and child ever since to restore His relationship with us and the whole world. I believe that God became a man, named Jesus, and that Jesus showed us what it was like to be truly alive, truly human. By seeing Jesus we see God; and we see that we can’t do this on our own like we thought. We need a savior. We need grace. We need Truth. We need forgiveness. We need a fresh start. We need power to change. When Jesus died on the cross, he took our place, and paid the price of our sin. We choose to separate ourselves from God; Jesus came and bridged that gap giving us free access to God through His death. As a follower of Jesus we see that we can’t do this own our own; that we aren’t following our own plan, but God’s plan, will and design for our lives. Through Jesus’ death we are forgiven. Through his resurrection from the dead, we have the power to become new people. I can love people around me not because I’m a better person than anyone else; but because I know I’m a sinner that is forgiven by Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I have Jesus working through me to transform me into someone new who can love people. I believe that Jesus is coming back someday and that the whole world will be made right again. Everything broken will be undone. All that is lost will be restored. I don’t see this as an escape; I see this as the ultimate hope. And this hope is what drives me.
If I love my friends, why wouldn’t I want them to know this amazing story?