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What Jesus Intended for You and Me
By unpacking the purposes of Jesus, we start to discover his true plans for us.
I am a sincere Christian. But at times, I do dumb things. I’m not right about every topic or issue. I inadvertently commit sins. Sometimes those things hurt others. What is true for me is true of all Christians—we are imperfect. Most reasonable people forgive a lack of perfection.
But sometimes Christians, in God’s name, get things badly wrong. And the people around us know it. It raises honest questions about whether the Church is truly good, or just a place where imperfect people act righteous while doing and saying things that harm others.
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The chief aim of my new book, What Jesus Intended: Finding True Faith in the Rubble of Bad Religion, is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus among those of us who have been hurt by church. Getting to know the real Jesus of the Bible refocuses our attention on what is true. That does not absolve the church or deny bad religion—it just means that bad religion is like ice on a windshield, distorting, if not completely obliterating, one’s view. I wrote this book to act like an ice scraper, chipping off the layers of bad religion that obscure reality. I share Jesus as the sure path to good religion.
Fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Study how [Jesus] did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:2,3 (MSG)
If you’ve been crushed by bad religion, I would suggest that Jesus offers the healing and goodness you've always longed for. He has sustained me throughout the ups and downs of my life in the Church, and I believe he can sustain you and your loved ones who have been disappointed and wounded by the Church as well. Jesus is the animating source of true Christian spirituality, and we discover good religion when we pursue alignment with him. He wants to show us the good and true life and enable us to become humanity as God intended.
Here’s a prayer that centers me in Jesus. Maybe it will help you do the same.
A Prayer of Dedication
Jesus, I have great admiration and love for you.
You are the most magnificent person who has ever lived.
You are right.
You are the greatest.
You are the best.
You are Lord.
I want to belong to you and your people. I want your life to become my life. I want to be a part of what you are doing throughout this world. I am humbled by the opportunity you set before me. I thank you for the grace to see that what we receive as your disciple is so superior that it is to be valued above all else. I thank you that in the midst of my pain and doubt you are healing me. Thank you for the hope you are restoring to me. I now recommit myself to you, to follow you all the days of my life, learning from you how to live my life if you were in my place.
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