Every Christian needs to know why they need Jesus.
Last week I spent a good bit of my time with a fabulous young person who was gracious, humble, and open — one of those special people who light up a room simply by entering it. During one of our frequent conversations, we touched on our spiritual beliefs. I shared that I have chosen to follow Jesus. He shared that he views Jesus to be an attractive role model, but considers him just “one of many teachers” offering truth and wisdom.
“All paths lead to God,” he added, his lovely smile wide and warm. “God is in everything and everywhere. We’re already at one with Him. We don’t need to limit ourselves to one religion.”
“So who do you think God is?” I asked him. My new friend’s smile widened. “He’s energy,” he replied. “And pure love.”
I’ve heard this response before, of course, stated with similar confidence. I don’t disagree with the answer, but I always find it interesting that a person who has not spent much time seeking to know God’s character can be so confident about who/what God is. I’ve been a dedicated Christian for 30+ years, but still feel inadequate at describing God. The more I try, the bigger He expands! But I definitely view God as much more than the ultimate energy field. To my mind, God has to be an intelligent, compassionate, holy, and intentional entity if He exudes perfect love.
“So,” I asked my new friend, “Do you think God will do what He says He’s going to do someday — namely, separate believers from non-believers and forever banish those who refuse to accept Jesus as savior?” He looked at me solemnly for a moment, then replied, “Is that really why people need Jesus?”
~ We Need Jesus Because …. ~
There are lots of reasons we might list to suggest why we need Jesus.
Before answering my new friend, I paused to mentally sort through the standard biblical answers I’ve heard for this question. Did any of them adequately explain my own need for Him?
Perhaps one standard answer is that we need Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross; that without His death and resurrection, every single one of us faces eternal separation (damnation) from God. The Bible tells us that to not accept Jesus as Lord, is to forever suffer in the fiery furnace of hell. This answer offends some people, but appeals to others. I have one Christian friend who believes that “Jesus died for those who feel the need to be punished.” Trust me, this statement leads to some very deep philosophical discussions!
Specific to hell itself, R.C. Sproul suggests that it is “an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief.” It sounds ghastly — and definitely not a place I want to visit. As a child, my Christian educators seemed to relish in recounting the horrors of hell: The flames. The smell. The gnashing of teeth. The screams of the tormented. I became so anxious about hell, in fact, that as soon as I walked into church (typically twice every Sunday and again on Wednesday nights), I fervently prayed that my own salvation hadn’t somehow managed to void itself. I may have needed Jesus to skirt an eternity of agony, but I didn’t love Him for it. I was too busy fearing God’s wrath; I had no bandwidth left to “find rest in the arms of Jesus.”
So if you’d asked me 20 years ago, “Why do I need Jesus?” my answer would have had a LOT to do with covering my butt — but very little to do with my delight in knowing Jesus. Today that makes me sad. Because I recognize that so many of us are still stuck right here.
Thankfully, over the years, God has worked on me to trust that His grace and unconditional love really are constants. To sin is not to easily slip from His grace. I am thankful to be reminded that even King David sinned — ROYALLY, I might add — by sleeping with another man’s wife and then murdering her husband to try to cover up his actions. Yet God was good: When David finally acknowledged his sin, God was quick to forgive him. He fully restored His relationship with David — even though David, like me, was far from perfect.
So last week I answered my new friend’s question like this:
I need Jesus because He has demonstrated, with every word and action, that His free gift of love is so wide and high and long and deep that it’s impossible for me to even comprehend it. I NEED and crave getting as close as possible to the source of that much love! I am amazed — and so grateful — that there is nothing I can do to cause Jesus to stop loving me. As God did with David, so God will do with me: stand firm on His promise of an enduring connection. Jesus not only “gets” my mess — my temptations, hot buttons, quirks, and fears — but actually delights in daily walking with me to manage and overcome them. I NEED Jesus to help me there; I’ll only muck it up on my own.
My young companion thoughtfully considered my answer, but I could tell he was only able to process it intellectually. And that’s completely understandable, as I doubt it’s possible for anyone to really understand the love Jesus has for them until they run smack dab into Him.
~ Responding to the Question With a Personal Answer ~
Curious, I queried a few friends as to why they need Jesus. One told me it’s because it’s so clear for her to see Him at work in her life. “There have just been too many times He has answered my prayers and showed up for me,” she said. “My experience goes way beyond coincidence.” Another told me that she needs Jesus because, without His presence, she’d “feel lost in an ocean without a life raft.” A third friend told me that of all the avenues of “truth” available to her, only Jesus had managed to “fill the clawing, empty hole” inside of her. “His filling me,” she added, “put an end to all my searching for meaning and happiness.”
So what’s your personal reason for why you need Jesus?
Is it, perhaps, because you see yourself in His healing of the bleeding woman or His forgiveness of the harlot? Or in His freeing the Samaritan woman from her shame, or in His restoration of Peter? Or perhaps, like me, you need Jesus to daily wash you clean, so that every day can be a fresh start? As Erik Segalini wrote in his article Why Do I Need a Savior, “I know what I need, like it or not. I need a Savior. Because my dark side lurks. And so does yours.”
“Why do I need Jesus?” is not a question to answer superficially. Because a superficial answer outs us as having a superficial relationship with Christ. Rather, the question should elicit from us a personal reply that demonstrates what Jesus means to us. Consider it a God moment if you are asked this question so directly. Step into the moment prepared with an answer. Who knows? Your heart-felt words might carry more weight than you can possibly imagine and having a lasting impact.
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s recently revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true. But share this truth with LOVE!
If you’d like to start from the first blog post in this series, click here: Apologetics: Apologizing for Believing in God?.