“Jesus is the answer for the world today. Above him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.”
Come on, you know the song.
At an early age, Sunday school teachers ingrain this cliché saying into kids. I’m definitely not saying cliché is bad; remember, clichés are cliché for a reason. Regardless, young ones begin to throw out “Jesus” as the answer for everything. Everyone who went to Sunday school knows the over-used joke of responding with Jesus to any question asked, even if the question was never a who question to begin with.
Ex. Why is the sky blue? Jesus. Who was the 22nd president of the United States? Jesus.
And then suddenly, when Jesus is actually the answer to the question, nobody wants to answer because it’s too obvious. It’s like, why would you even bother asking that question to begin with?
Who died on the cross for you? Jesus.
But there’s something going on here with the cliché, something I would like to explore for this blog, and something that is significant for you, dear reader, whether you claim to be Christian or not.
Over the course of my brief 23 years, I have had the fortune of talking with many people about my belief in Jesus, and consequently, I’ve talked with them about their own particular belief or lack thereof in Jesus, Christianity or what have you.
I’ve heard things like, “Why would a good God let evil happen?” or even, “What about people who will never hear of the name of Jesus or the gospel? What happens to them?” or perhaps, “Why would God let a murderer into heaven just because he/she ‘accepts Jesus into their heart?’”
At the heart of most of these questions lies an emotional question rather than an intellectual question. Too many times, in my own experience, I’ve sought to throw answers out at a seeming intellectual questions. In other words, I’ve relied on my Sunday school upbringing and sometimes shouted “Jesus” too quickly and too loudly, without stopping to hear and really uncover the emotional questioning of God and Christianity.
In fact, many Christians have acted similarly. In our eagerness, sometimes we jump to the answer rather than letting the question sit for a bit and weigh on our hearts, so that we may better understand where our friend is coming from. We also conflate Christianity and Jesus, which is certainly an easy thing to do; however, Christianity may not be the answer. Example? The crusades. Christianity done messed that one up.
Maybe this desire to have the answers comes from a sense of propriety, that is to say, as a Christian, I may feel like the fool if I don’t have an answer for everything about what I believe. Maybe it’s a result of the modern mind, an emphasis on reasoning and logic, catechized thinking, and questions and answers as the way humanity primarily muddles its way through life.
Why am I making such a big deal about questions and answers that Christianity may or may not have?
It’s simple. I am a Christian… yet I still have questions about God. In fact, sometimes I too question God.
There are times when it doesn’t make sense to me that God would allow two freshman in college to be killed in a drunk driving accident. Sometimes I experience things or see situations that defy all my explanatory powers.
But here’s the truth I want to land at: If I am in this Christianity thing solely for the answers, then I’ve got it wrong, because I’ll never have all the answers. If you, dear reader, are considering Christianity, but only for the supposed answers it might give, then may I suggest you are going about it wrong. The Christian religion ought to ultimately point to something far better than any answer. The Christian religion points to a person who responds to questions with an offer, an invitation, not always an answer.
Jesus’ call to the disciples and his offer to the Samaritan woman ring remarkably true for our world today. To the disciples in the early chapters of the book of John, he says, “Come and see.” That’s it. Come, follow me. That’s an invitation, not an answer. To the Samaritan woman at the well, he offers living water, something much better than just an answer to her question of whether the Jews or Samaritans were worshiping at the right place.
For the Christians reading this: When someone asks you a hard question about Christianity, relax! Listen honestly, intently, and respond to the best of your ability, knowing that there’s something far better in store for the person who is asking questions than the answer itself. Realize that the majority of the time, it’s an emotional/heart question masking itself as an intellectual question. Take a deep breath, answer the tough questions, and then end with an invitation. Don’t shy away from admitting that you don’t know it all, and that choosing Jesus doesn’t automatically clarify all things instantly in your mind.
For the non-Christian: Keep asking questions! Whether or not you are actively seeking Christianity, most Christians would do well to have hard questions posed to them. The fact that you are able and wanting to ask questions tells me something is already happening in your heart. Realize also that what seems like an intellectual objection to Christianity may actually be an emotional rejection of Christianity. Then proceed to ask, why am I rejecting or not choosing Jesus because of this issue I have with the Christian religion? Realize also that you may have a perfectly valid reason for not choosing Christianity, but also realize that at the heart of the Christian religion is an invitation to a relationship that’s much better than the satisfaction that comes with “knowing the answer.”
You see, while Jesus offers answers, he also does something crazy. He offers something better. He offers us a relationship with himself. It was never about us, or our doggedly persistent questions, although I do not want to dismiss the tough questions, especially since I seem to have my fair share of them! I am simply saying life is more than question and answer; it’s about a relationship with Jesus who can utterly transform even the darkest of situations.
So is Jesus the answer? I would say, sure, but he’s also something far superior than simply an answer. Come along and you might just see what I am talking about.
What do you think? Is Jesus truly the answer?
Does Christianity have all the answers?
What is something in your own life that Christianity has not seemed to answer well?
Are you wanting an intellectual answer when you’re really asking an emotional/heart question?
Comment below, or on Facebook! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or you can shoot me a text or email. As usual, I’m down to grab coffee if I’ve got time!
Beautiful Eulogy has an amazing song called Sovereign that deals with some of the hard questions in life. You can find it on Spotify, or by clicking here.
The artwork for this post is none other than Raphael’s The Transfiguration, a truly remarkable piece housed in the Vatican. What I love so much about this piece is the way Jesus on the mountaintop contrasts heavily with the frantic scene going on below him. In a strange way, this piece of art also asks the question, “Is Jesus really the answer?” A better view of the art piece can be seen here, and the details of the story can be found in Matthew 17:1-21.