I designed a new wallpaper yesterday evening. With a more or less risky line on it – Jesus is a big deal. That line has been stuck in my head for the past two weeks now.
I’m frustrated with what people think about Jesus. I’ve worked in an industry my whole working-life that’s blasphemous towards Jesus by nature. Designers and creatives can sit in studios all day and take out God and how heinous He is and how He can’t wait to take them out and ruin their day. One time when I spoke up, the creative director answered: “Dala, don’t get me started.” (I do understand where it comes from – but later about that.)
A week ago my father in law and I had a long discussion and I mentioned how people in general see Jesus in a really negative way, upon which he answered “Dala, remember, some people just wont accept Jesus – even when He was on earth people rejected Him.”
And that’s it. I can see people reject Jesus because of crazy Christians they’ve encountered. Or because they’re mystified with the condition of the world and they’re just blaming Jesus for it all.
It feels like there are people rejecting Him simply because they don’t know who He is, or how He is, or what He really stood for when he was on earth.
When Jesus was on earth people had different opinions about Him. Interesting enough, the religious leaders couldn’t take Him. Yet the washouts, rebels, prostitutes and “sinners” pursued Him continually and couldn’t get enough of Him.
I’ve got a gut feel that a lot of people that’s been bashed and mishandled by Christians, and don’t have time or energy to consider Jesus anymore, might be the group He would have been hanging out with if He was on earth in person today.
Who’s Jesus to me? Though there’s a bunch of theological pointers I could add in here, I want to cut to the fundamentals that make the difference in my melancholic artists existence.
In 1999, when I was 19, I went through a year of manic depression and anxiety. Up till that point my faith was pretty much the foundation of my life, but somehow it felt like a door was opened and not only was I confronted with emotions and thoughts too wild to document, but I started to question everything I believed about Jesus. In my heart of hearts I knew Jesus was the Absolute Truth, but in my head I almost struggled to “keep on believing it”.
So I ended up, nightly, just to tell Jesus – “Jesus, I want to keep on believing, and if You don’t help me, I simply can’t do it by myself.” With the depression and anxiety my brain never really switched off to sleep, so after months of struggling with that, I also started asking Jesus to just get me a ticket straight to heaven, as I didn’t see living a long life in such miserable conditions.
I’m still not sure when or how it got better – I became part of a really cool, solid church in Potchefstroom, South Africa, that just loved me and prayed for me and walked with me. My parents prayed for me, and my sister and her husband really mentored me.
But more than anything, Jesus kept me.
Because before this happened I still had a pretty legalistic view of Him, turn or burn, and that I earned my brownie points by reading enough Bible and doing “right” stuff.
But somehow my crisis made me realize it’s about being in a relationship with Jesus. The Jesus I think the sinners saw that walked with Him when He was on earth. A God that devours in Grace everything about me that makes me miserable and leaves me weightless, in awe and relieved in His Grace, Companionship in Friendship.
The world is upset with God because of the state of things here – the wars, the famine, illnesses and unanswered prayers.
But in Psalm it reads ‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8 NLT).
God knows the state of the earth. He knows what’s going down. Not just in the world, but in every individual’s life. He not only just knows it; He is recording each tear of every individual walking the earth in His book. We can blame Him, but we can also run to Him.
Jesus came to earth, He healed people and set things right, and the religious community crucified Him. (Please think of that if you’re blaming God for what the church did over the centuries, the “church” of Jesus’ day also crucified God’s Son.) There’s a huge difference between Religion and the Relationship with Jesus that justifies us by Faith in Him.
So what am I trying to say to you, if you’re reading this and you just don’t like Jesus or any of His followers?
Why don’t you give yourself a month?
Don’t try to change anything about yourself. Just start speaking to Him. Whenever you want to. About anything you want. (Jesus, I can’t believe it’s 8pm and I’m still sitting at work.) If you simply don’t believe in Him, you can tell Him that as well, together with all of your other thoughts. And if you want to take it a bit further, go to the site www.biblegateway.com and read the book of John (with an open mind) and the Psalms. The psalms are my go to book whenever I feel overwhelmed. (Cool translations you can choose are the New Living Translation and the Amplified Version.) Just see what happens. Just to make a more informed decision about Him.
Is my life perfect now? Without stress, close calls and frustrations? No… Not close to perfect. Would I have it other way? No… Nothing is as amazing as tracking back all the imperfections and trails of the past and seeing God’s Hand orchestrating it into amazing events, happenings and blessings. Am I astronomically happier than I ever though would be possible in 1999? Yes – it feels like God took every wildest dream I ever had and made it come true by His Grace.
There’s a saying by Graham Cooke, “You have to live by faith. You have to believe that God is there when everything says that He is not.”
It comes down to walking in faith with Jesus. That sums it up. Easy? No. You really need Jesus to help you cling on to Him with tenacity when the storms come. Worth giving up everything for? Yes. Jesus is/was/will be a Big Deal.