Steve Jobs once said that the journey was the reward. I really like that when it comes to Jesus. For me in the past, he was Destination, or to have an intimate relationship with him was the Destination.
I had and we have have so many ways that make Jesus our “goal” (which is just another way of making him our destination) like going to church, being part of the leadership in the church, leading different ministries in the church and developing leaders in the church. I tried fasting, service, obedience, spiritual disciplines, lengthening my prayer times and sacrifice, but it was never enough. It instead left me feeling like I deserved any love he might send my way (on my self-righteous days) and never being enough/good enough (on my shame-filled, pity party days) to have a relationship with him.
There are a lot of good things in the list I just described, but when you lump them all together like that you get my understanding of what religion is, man-made attempts to get to God or at least get on his good side long enough to get whatever you want or need. Now this is what I mean by saying Jesus is so punk rock, because he came to set you and me free from religion. He came (in the words of the great theologian Jack Black) to “stick it to the man!” (If you are not familiar with punk-rock terminology, the “man” is the system).
Every religion has some sort of holy man that everybody must listen to. Every religion has a building that it values as more sacred than other buildings and every religion has some rituals. As you read the Gospels you see Jesus targeting and sticking it to each of these. Sadly what Jesus faced in Jewish opposition we again face today in christianity, not because of the people per se but because of the system that seeks to control and perpetuate itself through people.
This is not an attempt to pick a fight with christians, I think we all agree that we aren’t happy with how the church is doing at the moment, that on the surface the church has never been busier than it is, the variety of programs, ministries, sharing, networking and mobilising is quiet staggering and yet when we look at our teens there is very little difference between them and the teens who aren’t christians (to be honest it’s the same with us adults).
However when Jesus said he is the way, the truth and the life, I think he was sticking it to the man again. To say He is the way, means He isn’t just the destination, or to put it in Steve Jobs words, He is the journey and that journey is the reward. The way I see it Jesus is saying as you walk (live your life) I will walk alongside you, we’ll walk and talk. I’ll show you things, we’ll grab coffee, we’ll laugh and we’ll cry, we’ll hurt, we’ll heal, we’ll get to know each other and when we get to our destination we’ll have the same heart.
On that journey for Jesus to say he is the truth, is to me an invitation to know the person of truth. To not know all the answers but to rather converse with truth himself and allow that conversation to surface the lies, to allow the truth to heal, to transform, to take root, to reveal the greatest truth of all, that I am deeply loved by him.
In all of this while we weren’t paying attention Jesus becomes our very life. Not because we applied some set of principles we learned in a sermon or on a conference, but as our hearts are drawn to his, identify with his and finally become intimately invested in his heart.
I no longer feel like I have earned his love, because I am not doing anything to try to earn it, I also don’t feel like I am unworthy of his love because I have come up short. Rather I know his love as a gift to me, as I share this journey with Jesus, and all I can say is though I usually can only see till the next bend in the road, I know Jesus will get me to where we are going and I am enjoying the journey.