As you might know, because you know me, or you’ve read this blog, or you deduced from the title, I do believe in Jesus. I believe in Jesus wholeheartedly, on days when I want to, and on days when I don’t. I believe when I believe and I’ve chosen to believe when the believing is hard to come by.
But that’s just the background on me. What I want to tell you–the very first thing–is this: You are loved.
The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. –Zephaniah 3:17
Maybe you’ve heard that before, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve wondered though, wondered if you were known or cherished or seen or cared about at all. I have–I have quite a bit. In fact, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t. So let me say it again, and this time, just let it settle on your bones: You are loved. You are loved by God.
The second thing I want to say is that it doesn’t matter to me if you don’t know Jesus, as far as you and me being friends goes. Of course, I want that for you, but only because I believe with all the fierceness I have in me that it is the secret to everything. But it’s your decision, and I will absolutely let you make it. And it’s not the game changer for me–you and me, we can be friends, without agendas or judgment. I will probably tell you at some point about how I love Jesus, but it’s not because I’m talking to you to lay that out on the table. If we go to coffee, I just want to get coffee with you, because I like you. You’re not something to be won over, another notch in my heavenly belt, a trophy to gather dust on my shelf. You’re whoever you are, and I see that. I love that. So come, come to coffee with me. Come without worry or anxiety or fear that you can’t tell me the truth, whatever that is. I have my own truths, friend–I know they can be ugly. Bring your truth, bring your soul, bring your beliefs, even if they’re different than mine. I don’t mind.
I want to say some more things, too. I want to tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you’ve been hurt by people who say they love Jesus. There is no disclaimer here, because you don’t deserve to be hurt by anyone. I want to let you know that I believe that we live in a fallen world, a hurting world, and thus a world that hurts. I want to let you know if it’s hurt that you’re carrying, it is real. It is not diminished by admitting that we’re all human; it is not healed by stuffing it as far within you as it can go. I want you to know that I hurt for you and that Jesus hurts for you, too. I want you to know that I know even these things sound trite in the face of pain that takes your breath away morning after morning. I want you to know you can come with your pain–I myself brought bucketfuls and barrelfuls and pailfuls, so much that I had my own river of hurt flowing. That’s how I can say this to you, friend. I’ve been there. Now I’m here. It’s not better than where you are because I’m better than you are; It’s better because Jesus is the best.
That’s another thing I need to tell you: I do not think I am better than you. Let that beat up the ideas that you have formed because somewhere in your past–maybe in many places in your past–someone, a Christian, has believed that he or she was better than you. That person wasn’t, and I’m not. In fact, sometimes I will look so much like the parts of you that you don’t like that you will wonder how I’m even different at all. I promise not to shirk away from those moments, but to reach out for your hand, look you in the eye, and say, “I told you so. I told you we’re the same.” I promise to take us straight to stand in the light of Jesus, where both of us forget about religion and our mistakes. Because you and me, we’ve both made mistakes, huh? I could tell you all of the things I’ve ever done, but I don’t have the time or the courage to do all of that at one time. But I will tell you this: it’s not about things we’ve done. It’s not about the alcohol we have or haven’t drank, the sex we have or haven’t had, the hearts we have or haven’t broken. (In fact, Jesus would much, much rather you come to the foot of the cross drunk than not come at all.) It’s about the king of glory, Jesus Christ. It’s about love, love that chases you down (if you think you’re not being chased, consider that you’re on the fourth paragraph of this blog post, and something kept you going.) It’s about the way the love strikes every bit of you like electricity and leaves you the way lightning leaves sand: different, stronger, reflective. Beautiful, for all the fire you’ve been through. I know that if you don’t know Jesus, this is all hard to fathom. But I’ve been sand. And now I’m glass. We can go to coffee and talk about how this is so.
I want to tell you, if you’re interested, that Jesus is interested in you. I want to tell you that there’s a Church waiting for you, a body that is imperfect and yet stronger still for our weaknesses. I want to tell you that believing in Jesus is the best thing and the hardest thing I’ve ever done; the grace simply appears, but the healing, the freedom, the joy–these things come with time, with hard work, with patience and faith. These things come sometimes all at once and then little by little, in seasons and in secrets. I want to tell you that sometimes you will be unsure still, but forge ahead, brave one. Because it’s worth it. It’s everything you could ever imagine, and it’s more, and it’s yours if you come and get it.
So I want to invite you to come. Come to coffee with me, no agenda, no judgment. Come and meet the church, if only to ask questions, some of which we can’t answer, but we will do our best. Come and tell us what you have, the hurt that cripples you on the bathroom floor, that leaves you paralyzed with doubt and fear. I can promise we have seen it too, that we are not afraid of dirty, messy pain. I can tell you we will point you to the cross, which is where we left our buckets. I can tell you it’s where I still go daily to pour out, because like I said, this life is hard. But life is hard either way, and over here, there’s grace. There’s freedom. There’s love, so much love that I won’t be able not to mention it if we go to coffee.
Because all I really want to tell you, if you don’t believe in Jesus, is this: You are loved, whether you believe or not. And I know you can’t see Him, or feel Him, that it sounds crazy and that you’re doing fine on your own. But if you get tired, so tired of this world, and you feel like you might try anything to stand up off the bathroom floor, well, He’s waiting for you. I believe it down deep in my bones–I know it because He was waiting for me.
You’re known. You’re seen. You’re cherished. You’re loved.