Jesus is by far my one and only hero, but I don’t hero-worship him: He’s my brother. Yes, he’s also my Lord and Messiah and teacher, but our closest relationship is of brother and sister.
We are both God’s children. He was born a son of God, whereas I was adopted into the family through spiritual rebirth. Still, when we stand before God, he makes no distinction between those who were born his children and those who later became his children. He loves us all the same. He sees us as different in the ways that we are different, but he still loves us all the same.
This is a great comfort to me.
I love Jesus, but not with a cloying, sickly, sycophantic kind of love. It would be out of place and inappropriate. Jesus doesn’t want to be hero-worshiped; he doesn’t want us to pretend-marry him, like nuns do; he wants us to learn from him, the way younger siblings learn from older ones, and at the same time he’s offering to be the best friend we’ll ever have. I know, because he’s been my brother and best friend for over 23 years. He’s all the other things that scripture says of him, but I know him simply as my brother and my best friend.
And like a brother, he doesn’t hold back when it comes to setting me straight when I go wrong. We don’t stand on ceremony. He’ll spiritually tussle me to the ground if he has to, to stop me from doing or saying something I shouldn’t.
I don’t think there are any words for the kind and depth of love I have for Jesus. It’s not a love that I’ve felt for anyone else in my life. It’s unique and suited only to Jesus, mainly because he’s not only the only brother I have, but also the only Messiah.
Like John, I could spend all day – all my life – talking about Jesus and what he’s accomplished, what he’s done and is doing by the grace of God. John is right in saying that everything Jesus has done would fill so many books, the entire world wouldn’t be able to contain them, were everything written down. Our understanding of Jesus’ involvement in our day-to-day lives barely scratches the surface. I guess there’s a reason for God limiting our understanding. Maybe it would freak us out (we’re generally pretty easily freaked) if we knew how omnipresent Jesus is in our lives, the same way as God is omnipresent. Jesus promised us that both he and God would come live with us, so that we could have the same relationship with God that he had while on Earth.
He’s kept his promise, and it’s a beautiful thing.
I love my big brother. I’m proud of him and I dote on him (the way little sisters do) and I bug the you-know-what out of him occasionally (the way little sisters do), but I’m so happy that he’s my brother and best friend and Messiah. Even before I was born again, I thought Jesus was the coolest guy who ever lived. Nothing fazed him, not even being falsely accused and crucified. I liked how he stood up for people who were being kicked down. I admired his courage and his ability to cut through the crap. He didn’t take anything from anyone, and he was always bang-on in his assessment of situations and people. This is how I saw him when I was an atheist, and I still see him like this. I still admire all these characteristics that make Jesus Jesus and now do my best to emulate them.
I never saw him as meek and mild. I never saw him as a pushover or a hypocrite, but I sure as heck knew a lot of Christians (know a lot of Christians) who are pushovers and hypocrites, who are meek and mild. They do Jesus a disservice being like that while claiming to be his followers. Most Christians these days are more like Judas Iscariot than Jesus, more like the early followers who walked away when the going got too tough.
I follow no-one but Jesus. Why would I? Why would anyone, given the choice? Who is more worthy to follow than Jesus? The world throws option after option at us, trying to get us if not to switch our loyalty, then at least to spread it around a bit, to apportion a bit to Jesus and also some to this or that deeply flawed star or superhero. Romantic love is one such contrivance to get us to divide our loyalty, as is the near idol-worship of some parents for their children. Even some born-again believers get caught up in these diversions, which is one of the reasons why Jesus had his disciples leave their families when they became his followers.
There is no room for division of loyalty in God’s Kingdom. Your focus is on God and God only; your love is to God and God only, and to Jesus, as his Messiah. God and Jesus are your family, if you’re born-again. They should have all your love, just as their love should satisfy all your need for love. There is no need to look beyond God and Jesus for love. Why would you seek out imperfect and conditional feelings when you have perfect and unconditional love straight from the source?
Jesus is first and foremost my brother, who also happens to be my best friend and Messiah. He teaches me God’s Way so I’ll make it home to Heaven. This was his purpose in coming to Earth – to redeem the lost and fallen, and then to guide them home. He’s still redeeming and guiding, but from his seat of glory at the right hand of God.
I have no idea what I’ll say to Jesus if and when I make it Home. I guess “thank you for everything” would be a good start. For the time being, I’m just glad that he’s with me in Spirit while I’m still here. I can’t imagine going even one second without God and Jesus: they are every breath I breathe. They keep me honest. They keep me focused. They tickle a smile out of me even when I’m cranky. I love them so much that there are no words to describe the love. There are only tears, which God then gently wipes away.
We born-agains are blessed beyond measure to share in the very great gift that Jesus’ sacrifice enabled us to have – the gift of his and God’s presence while we’re yet here on Earth. I love my brother and I love my Father, and if I know nothing beyond my love for them, I know enough.