Last year, Power to Change (York) asked me to speak on this question: What does Christianity have to do with my life? I answered in two parts. The first can be found on my blog post entitled What is Christianity?, and what follows is the second part of my answer.
I want to highlight two gripping ways that Jesus Christ profoundly relates to you. I found these themes in the Bible; specifically in the ancient biography on Jesus written by his close friend Matthew.
1) Jesus is your judge.
Though many people don’t like the idea of judgement, Matthew’s biography clearly shows that Jesus talked a lot about judgement. In fact, Jesus taught that one day in the future, he will come and judge everyone who has ever lived.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus paints a picture of what Judgement Day will look like. He is the judge. All peoples will stand before him; and he will separate them, the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left. And their sentence? The sheep (the righteous) will hear: “Come, you who are blessed …” But the goats (the unrighteous) will hear: “Depart from me, you cursed …” Jesus is the judge. He is my judge. He is your judge.
In Matthew 7:24-27 we learn that everyone’s destiny is determined by how they respond to the words of Jesus: destruction for those who don’t trust him, taking him at his word; and life for those who trust him, proving their trust by doing what he says. According to Jesus, your destiny is determined by how you respond to him.
The inevitable event of Jesus’ future judgement ought to inform the way we respond to Jesus now. People save money now in light of future retirement. People pick academic programs now in light of future career plans. Future events have direct ramifications for how we live now. How much more the future judgement!
You may be thinking, “but I’m a good person; I’ll be okay on Judgement Day.” I don’t doubt that you’re a nice person; many Canadians are nice. But when we speak of judgement, the only person’s estimation of your goodness that counts is the Judge’s. So, what does it mean to be good according to Judge Jesus? The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a great summary of his standards, that is, of true goodness and righteousness. He’s not only concerned with what we do, but what we think, and why we do the things we do; he cares very much about motives. A summary of these righteous standards is found in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Truth is, he knows we’re not. In fact, in the sermon, he calls us “evil” (Mt 7:11). Not the most flattering pre-trial assessment. We need a Saviour. We need forgiveness. This brings me to my second point.
2) Jesus has the authority to forgive your sins.
The name Jesus means God saves. Before his birth, and angel came to Joseph in a dream, saying, “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). Judgement is coming. We deserve to be punished for our sins, but Jesus came to save us. Christianity is pretty simple; as John Stott taught, it’s a “rescue religion.”
In Matthew 9:12-13, Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick … I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to save sinners. He came to save people – people who realize they’re not good in God’s eyes and yet call out to him for help. He came to save the spiritually sick from the impending judgement that is coming.
The good news is that Jesus truly does have the authority to forgive all of your sins. Anyone, no matter how corrupt your past (or how depraved your current habits), can find full forgiveness in Jesus. Just as he displays his authority over nature, disease, demons and even death, he shows his authority to forgive sins (Mt 8-9). In Matthew 9:1-8, he heals a man who is paralysed and proclaims his authority to forgive sins. Interestingly, he shows his authority empirically while proclaiming his authority to do what can’t be seen: forgive sin. The question is: do you believe? Do you believe he has the authority to forgive sin? Even your sins?
When Jesus came, through his death, resurrection and ascension, he ushered in the New Covenant. A covenant is when God establishes an arrangement with people whereby he is their God and they are his people. When it comes to the New Covenant, Matthew wants us to know that Jesus gave wine to the disciples, saying “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28). God is establishing a relationship with people through Jesus Christ wherein people receive the forgiveness of all of their sins by faith in Jesus. As people forgiven by Jesus, God is their God and they are his people. Again, the way into this covenant is not by works or trying to be a good person. It is by faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way to receive forgiveness; and therefore peace with God. Everyone from every nation and background is both commanded and invited to come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, the only one who has the authority to forgive sins.
How else will you receive forgiveness?
Though I could go on, those are a couple of pretty significant ways that Jesus Christ relates to you (and me!). You might not feel the relevance; but Jesus certainly sees it. May he help us to both see it and feel it.