What difference does Jesus make?

christ_mosaicI find myself considering this question more than I like to admit.  When people who don’t know Jesus seemingly are so happy and fulfilled I wonder, what difference does it make that I claim allegiance to Jesus?  This is especially true when I’m having a hard day, or when my wife and I are struggling with something.  Why do we need Jesus?  What difference does he make, here and now?

1. Jesus gives us a deeper, enduring Joy

There are a plethora of joys in the world, anyone who denies that is self deceived.  Sin is appealing no doubt, it feels good, it brings pleasure.  But it doesn’t bring lasting pleasure.  In fact, anytime sin is involved we will see two things happening.  One just as your tolerance for caffeine goes up the more you drink so too with the pleasures of sin. joy_stone3 You will find yourself needing more and more of it to get to the same point of pleasure.  This is in a sense true of Jesus also, but the difference is Jesus keeps on giving.  In fact the more you enjoy Jesus, the more you are able to enjoy Jesus and on and on it goes, actually to eternity.  This is kind of like a positive feedback loop.  Loving and enjoying Jesus only leads to more loving and enjoying Jesus, on forever.

2.  Jesus relieves of the need to hold grudges.

Here is an amazing fact.  In the gospels we read about Jesus forgiving sins on the spot.  Now have you ever thought about that?  Jesus comes a long and forgives someone’s sin against someone else.  It would be like Jesus coming into a situation and forgiving a thief for stealing right in front of the person who was robbed.  The person who was robbed would be like…what?  What about me?  This cost me something, where’s my retribution.  But this is the beautiful thing about the gospel.  Jesus paid the price for everyone’s sins.  We can also be free to forgive the ‘thief’ because Jesus took the punishment he deserves.  This means we don’t have too seek revenge.  Justice has been served, punishment has been delivered.

Holding-Grudges_largeThis means so much in the context of marriage because husband and wife will daily sin against each other.  And the only thing that can clear the obstacles of resentment and anger is realizing that Jesus paid the price for the sins committed.  This really only works when both husband and wife are believers.  But thank about that.  When we believe that Jesus takes the penalty of sin, it relieves us of the need to seek to hurt or seek retribution from the other party.  This is freedom indeed.

And what results when both parties do this is actually a deeper intimacy.  A deeper friendship.  Only Jesus can turn sin and use it for good and godly purposes.  This is amazing.  Whatever happens in a nonbelievers union the compromises made will never reach the depth that the atonement achieves for us.

Jesus says we are free, and we are free indeed when we believe in Him. This is great news.

3. Only Jesus fulfills the truest and deepest needs of our souls.

All of us are all the time seeking our deepest pleasure.  We may work a job we hate, but deep down we are choosing to do that so as to avoid the worse consequences of being unemployed.  We may go out and party with our friends, drinking and carrying on, because we believe that will fill the gap.  But it doesn’t last.  The next morning we have lost the high, or worse yet we may be in regret.

The truth is that the desire that manifests itself in us, is actually pointing to a deeper Happiness-1truth.  CS Lewis has said it best, hunger does prove that such a thing as food exists, but it certainly proves that such a thing ought to exist.  So to, if nothing in this world can ultimately satisfy us, the only logical answer is that we were made for another world.

We were made to know, love and enjoy Jesus.  Only this will severe the intense longing to fulfill our souls.  To be sure we will continue to seek pleasures and continue to seek Him more, but at last our hunger will start to be truly satisfied, and will reach full satisfaction in the age to come.  That is perhaps the most striking answer to why we need Jesus.  We are a people that are looking forward to the age to come.  Like an engaged couple anxiously awaiting the joys and pleasures of their wedding night, so too we long and wait for the eternal joy that is to come to us who believe, when Jesus, at last comes back.

That is our hope.  That makes all the difference.  We are not suffering in vain, but all has meaning.  All has purpose.  All is for our good and God’s glory.  That is a precious truth, and a truth that the world, with all it’s promises can never trump.

Thank you Jesus for your truth.  Thank you that you are  the truth.

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