Do you experience fear, suffering, and alienation? I think we can all agree that something is wrong. We all suffer and feel alienated. Jesus came to bring an answer to our suffering and alienation. He tells us how we can have peace in our lives, even though some suffering continues temporarily, but he also tells us that all suffering will someday end completely. However, perhaps the greatest thing he tells us is that we need not feel alienated from God, each other, and ourselves.
Why do we feel alienated from God? It is not because God is angry with us or is displeased with us in some way; the alienation is all on our side. We have the impression that God is a harsh god and that we will be punished for our mistakes and insufficiencies. Why should we not think this? Even the writer’s of the Old Testament imagined him in this way. But Jesus came to correct our mistaken perception. God is not a god of wrath. God is the Father; God is our Father. His attitude toward us is love, not wrath.
We are correct to think that something is wrong, but Jesus came to make things right. This already impacts us in very positive ways by relieving alienation in our lives and also by removing fear and superstition. And the time is coming when everything will be made right and there will be no suffering at all of any kind.
If this is so, why do we, as believers, still experience fear and alienation? It is because the message of Jesus has been blunted and distorted. The Christian message, itself, has too often been filled with fear and superstition, particularly in the concept of God’s wrath—and of hell and punishment. This causes alienation to continue. But this is not the message of Jesus; this is baggage.
Resolving our feelings of alienation from the Father is not the only answer Jesus gives us.
1. As we have discussed earlier, his invitation to us offers rest from our burdens,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
2. In addition, he reduces alienation between us and others and within ourselves. We will discuss this at another time.
3. Finally, his resurrection demonstrates his power over death and brings us the prospect of eternal life.
Something is right. Jesus tells us this. And his is a message without baggage. If this is true—if Jesus describes a Father who is not angry and demanding with us, then why does Jesus, himself, sometimes appear so harsh and judgmental in the Gospels? We will investigate this next time.
Have you experienced the benefit of Jesus’ message to us? Tell me your story.