Why should we choose Jesus? For centuries, the primary answer to this question has been “to escape the fires of Hell.” In an effort to encourage more people to choose Jesus, well meaning preachers have cranked up the flames and horror in order to literally scare the Hell out of us. The reason this strategy is so common is because it has worked for many centuries. But running away from Hell is not the same thing as pursuing Jesus. It’s not that Heaven and Hell don’t matter. They do. But I would much rather help you choose Jesus and build a life with Him than simply run away from something bad. Besides, Heaven and Hell are not the issues keeping most people awake in the middle of the night. Too many people are living their own version of hell right here and now and desperately need to know that God can make a positive difference today as well as for all eternity. Running away from Hell is not enough. Escaping to spiritual Heaven is not enough. By choosing Jesus, we are not escaping earth in order to reach Heaven as much as helping God smuggle Heaven into this present world, which won’t be easy, but it will give our lives a dignity and purpose that many have never had before. Jesus is beating back the darkness with light. He is repairing what is broken, uniting what is divided, rebuilding what has been destroyed and bringing back to life what has died. Eternal life begins for us in the here and now the very moment we choose Jesus who then molds us into His image, recruits us to join His redeeming work, and equips us get the job done. Jesus is changing our lives for the better so we can help God make the world better, too. That is not a cosmic miracle that will happen in the distant future. It is happening now, every day, all around us.
Now God has a few problems with us. We are notoriously unreliable. We make mistakes. We are weak. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We lash out in frustration. We shoot for the target God sets before us, but time and again, we miss the mark. We call this tendency to fail “sin.” Before we can be truly useful to God in transforming this broken world, we are going to undergo some repairs and renovations. To serve Christ, we need a heart like Christ and a mind like Christ. The Holy Spirit is poured into us to clean things up inside and to rewire our desires and thoughts to be more compatible with the way Jesus approaches things. Our character is strengthened. We experience more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity and self control. As Christ cleans us up to fit into his plans, we get to enjoy the benefit of living a healthier, more sane life. Many of us come to Jesus because life is a mess, a combination of the choices we’ve made and the brutality of the world around us. Sometimes it is just bad luck and we can’t catch a break. Another gift Jesus gives is the support and unconditional love of others who have surrendered their lives to Jesus, too. We are no longer alone in the struggle. Maybe our biological family gave us nothing but heartache, abuse and neglect. But we can become part of a new spiritual family that we choose and who chooses us rather than the random luck of the draw that is birth. Together with this family, we can choose to be a part of the solution for what is wrong with this world rather than continuing to be part of the problem. We can choose to serve through God’s power rather than suffer as helpless victims.
In short, that is why we choose Jesus: for life, for a fresh start, for the friendship of a truly supportive family, and for a purpose worth living and dying for.