I had a good spiritual bringing up since by the time I was born my parents were already believing Christians. They took me to a vibrant church, sent me to Sunday School and youth camps. But the reason why I am a follower of Christ is not my bringing up, though it must have made it easy. The reason I follow Christ is that he met me when I needed a savior. Ever since he became my savior and I handed over my life to him, I have been walking with him. I have three main reasons why I still cling to him for the fifty years of life with him. These may not be my reasons only; thousands of disciples who follow Jesus Christ may share the same reasons as mine.
The first in my list is the truth that Jesus Christ is living. Jesus Christ came to this world to die on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world. Though Joseph of Arimathea buried him, the tomb could hold him only for two nights. On the third day he rose from the dead. This happens sometimes between AD 28 and 30. By appearing to over 500 people over many weeks, he convinced his followers that he is alive.
Sixty-five years later when one of his beloved disciples called John was in exile in the island of Patmos, Jesus Christ appeared to him declaring that he is still alive. He said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades (Revelation 1:17-18). The Book of Revelation that John wrote describes him repeatedly as the “one who lives forever.” Another apostle, saint Paul also affirms this truth. In Romans 6:9 we read that, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”
Not only is he alive but he is continually active on my behalf right now. The Book of Hebrews tells us that Christ who ascended to heaven is interceding for God’s children as a perfect, sinless high priest. He is a priest who knows my weakness. Every time I mess up, when I do things that does not please God he pleads on my behalf.
I have friends. But I do not have a friend who will never die. Some of my best friends are already dead and gone. Those who live haven’t promised me to outlive me. The reason I still cling on to Jesus Christ my savior is this: He is alive, he is alive for me. The hymn writer, Alfred Henry Ackley, puts it this way:
“I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that he is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see his hand of mercy;
I hear his voice of cheer;
And just the time I need him
He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and
Talks with me along life’s narrow way.”
My second reason to cling on to my Lord Jesus Christ is that he is loving. He loved me when I did not deserve it. He loved me when I was unlovable as Saint Paul writes in Romans 5:6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
He expressed his love for me by giving himself fully up on the cross on my behalf. He gave up his body to be flogged, pierced, to bleed and die on the cross. We often consider donating a few bottles of blood for patients going to surgery or donating a kidney to a parent for transplant is sacrifice. Jesus did not just donate a few bottles of his blood nor limit his sacrifice to an organ that he could dispense with, but he gave the whole of himself enduring much pain.
His sacrificial love cannot be quantified, nor it can be described as we read in Ephesians 3:18–19 where Paul wishes that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”
His love for me demands a commitment as Saint Paul declares in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The love of Christ controls our love as it demands the entirety of our life.
It is a love that binds us to him despite all adversities of live. We read in Romans 8:37-39 that, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We do not care if people hate us because the excess of his love we enjoy compensates for people’s hatred. When I have experienced such an ocean of love why should I worry about the hatred of puny little men and women who try to make my life miserable? When we are completely steeped in the love of the creator of this world, the hatred of the creatures does not matter. That is the reason despite persecutions and hatred and problems hundreds of Christ followers still hang on to him. They hang on to him because they have tasted and seen the love of God. Once tasted that love, no one can detest it.
I still have one more reason to cling to him. My reason number three is that he comes. Jesus promised to his disciples that he will come back to them. Just before his death he comforted his disciples assuring them that he will come back to take the place he is going (John 14:3). While he was ascending to heaven, the angles repeated his promise to the disciples that, “this Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).”
It is particularly important to note the words “this Jesus” which means it not another person or incarnation, but it is the same person who walked with them, did miracles before their eyes, who died and rose from the dead is going to come back. Moreover, the angels used the name that his parents gave him on birth, “Jesus” to emphasize the point. They also emphasized the way he will return, “the same way.” That is the way that Jesus had promised his disciples in Matthews 16:27–28. Just as he ascended on the clouds with the accompaniment of the angels, he will descend on the clouds accompanied by the angels.
This hope is incredibly unique. Many religions teach about incarnations. My Hindu friends believe in the incarnation of their gods but none of them will be the same as the previous. The Bahai’s believe that every 1000 years God sends a new prophet. But the Bible assures me that the same Jesus who loves me, lives for me will come back in the same manner that he ascended to heaven.
He is coming back to complete the unfinished work. First, he came to save humanity by dying on their behalf. Now, he is waiting for them to repent and turn to him. He will come back again to judge the living and the dead. The Bible says that he is coming to gather his saints (2 Thessalonians 2:1). That is his promise. The Book of Revelation, the last by book of the Bible closes by repeating this promise. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon’” (Revelation 22:20).
I had a childhood friend who was raised by a single mother. His father left for the north-western part of India a few months after he was conceived. This man who left his young, pregnant wife ended up in what later became Pakistan in 1947, soon after his arrival. He was not able to return since he found himself in a foreign country and no way to exit out of it nor did he attempt to do that. He was probably settled in that part of the world with a new family. My friend and his mother had been waiting for him all their life. They have not heard from him for years. They are not sure if he is still alive. If he is alive, does he love them or is he committed to someone else? Even if he is alive, and loving will he ever come back to him? Now, they are almost sure that he is not going to come back. It has been over 75 years now. Can they still hold on to him?
Our Lord Jesus is different. He is alive, he continues to love me, and he is going to come for me. What more reasons do we need to walk with him and talk with along life’s narrow way?