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This is often how Christianity is presented: is your life a mess; at the end of your rope; tried everything else and still feel unfulfilled?  Try Jesus.  A relationship with Him will fix your life—it works.

I was just having a conversation with someone who did this.  Disappointed by the way his life has turned out, he gave Jesus a try.  But instead of transforming his life, he confessed: “It’s not working for me.” 

It’s not working for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of this sentiment.

If this is what it means to have a relationship with Christ, then maybe that’s why so many people reject Christianity: they sincerely try it, but are bitterly disappointed when it doesn’t “work” for them.  They sincerely believe this is what it means to have a relationship with Christ, but because it doesn’t work for everybody who gives it a try, they conclude it can’t be real.

Of course, approaching Jesus this way reduces Him to someTHING that will solve all our problems and take care of all our needs.  It reduces Him to something OTHER than the Living God.  And that CAN’T work—that’s not how a relationship with Him “works”.  The focus is still on ME—how He can satisfy MY needs.  This is just USING God to get what I want.  There is no love, no relationship possible in such an approach.  In a genuinely loving relationship, the focus is on the OTHER. 

This way of approaching Jesus is doomed.  It will never lead to a life-transforming relationship with Him.

The closest I ever came to complete despair was 1988.  I was 22.  It was my second year teaching and nothing was working out the way I had planned: my career and relationships were just a growing series of major disappointments. 

One night, a school night, the pain of it all became so acute I couldn’t sleep.  So, in the middle of the night I got in the car and went for a ride.  I don’t cry.  But that night, going over the mess my life had become again and again as I drove, the tears came flooding out.  I never seriously contemplated taking my life, but as I was driving, my tears made it hard to see the road clearly.  I remember thinking: I don’t care if I drive off the road right now.  I don’t care if I die.  At least the pain will stop.  This is the closest and really the only time I ever felt like giving up on life. 

As I continued to drive, something deep within was telling me to say: “Thank you God”.  It was crazy.  I had nothing to be thankful for.  But for some reason, I eventually started saying “Thank you God”.  Since there was nothing I could be sincerely thankful for, I started thanking God for silly things, like the trees lining the road; my car; the song playing on the radio.

Pretty soon, the “Thank you God”s were outpacing my tears.  They had broken out into a litany.  Pretty soon, I was genuinely feeling it.  “Thank you God for all the people in my life…Thank you God for the gift of play…Thank you God for my health”.

Then, I did something I can’t explain—I don’t know where it came from.  I started thanking God for God, for Who He is.  “Thank you God for being the kind of God you are…Thank you God for being so unconditionally loving…Thank you God for being so loving you would become human and die for us”.  (I would learn later that, technically, what I was doing by thanking God for God is called praise.)

That’s when it happened.

I started laughing.  And I couldn’t stop.  Not a silly giggle.  But a “profound” laugh, if that makes any sense.  It was like a deep, deep well of ridiculous joy—a kind of joy I had never experienced before—began to bubble up inside me and was spilling over.  I couldn’t contain it.  And as crazy as it felt, I didn’t want to! 

Here in the deepest night of despair I’ve ever experienced, I became so full of joy I couldn’t stop laughing. 

Focusing on Jesus, praising Him, adoring Him, literally had turned my mourning into joy. 

In my despair, I had forgotten what I had learned when I fell in love with God a few years earlier—keep your eyes fixed on HIM!  Although keeping this focus is incredibly challenging, whenever I do, that joy comes flooding in.

As I began to share what happened that night, I found many other Christians who’ve had the same kind of experience.  Living a life focused on Christ, adoring Jesus for Who He is, is the portal into His divine life, the life we long for.  This is what it means to have a relationship with Him—not us inviting Him into our lives so He can fix them, but rather, Him inviting us into the awesome wonder of His life so we can know His joy.

It means falling in love with God.

And nothing compares to the glory of that.

Do you think it’s possible to have a relationship with Christ, that it’s something real?  Or do you think the whole thing is delusional? 

Let me know what you think!  You can go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and leave your comments there.  Also, if you want to read more articles like this one, please “Like” the Raising Jesus Facebook page so we can keep you updated on future blogs, videos, and announcements.  I’d love to hear from you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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