Our experience of Jesus is limited most often by the limits we put on him! A painful truth, but also a hopeful one. Perhaps we can take down some of those barriers.
Most of the limits we put on Jesus happen unconsciously. Sometimes we place the limits intentionally. And of course, a trainload is dumped on us by our context (in which case the parable could begin, “One day a man was boarded up inside his house by his past,” or, “by the leaders of his religious community”). But I’m not looking to fix blame. I’m trying to help us find Jesus. As I said at the beginning of the book, though Jesus has been vandalized by both religion and the world, he is still alive and very much himself. He’s still the same beautiful outlaw, with the same personality — though it does require removing some debris nowadays to know him as he truly is.
Step one to a deeper experience of Jesus is knowing what to look for. That’s why we have been looking at his personality, setting him free from the religious marshmallow. If you can hang on to this, an entire new world will open up for you. This is a Jesus you can actually love because this is who he is.
Step two involves removing some of the debris that has been piled in the way, so that we can begin to experience him, share our lives with him. For example, if you believe, for whatever reason, that “Jesus doesn’t speak to me,” it’s going to be hard to hear him speaking to you. Or believe it was him when he does. For the very same reasons, if you hold in your heart that “Jesus doesn’t really love me,” as poor Jolie did, then it will be awfully hard to experience the love of Jesus. Are you following me?
It is a stunning realization: You will find Jesus pretty much as you expect to.
And that’s the memo.
By John Eldredge from Beautiful Outlaw