Talking to someone online about God reminded me of my car crash back in May.
Yes, there is a connection…
You see, this guy yesterday was repeating something I hear so often and it’s nonsense: people telling me that they’re happy for me that I’ve found a religion that works for me, a religion that makes me happy… But Jesus didn’t die to make me happy now, he died to give me a happy ever after! And the idea that following him is a recipe for a nice, happy life – that’s just so not the life he calls his followers to! He promised us that in this world we would have trouble, and just look at Christians in North Korea for example, or in Syria, or in Egypt, or… throughout the ages, right from the very beginning of this thing we call Christianity, it was marked by persecution, imprisonment, torture, death as martyrs for the faith.
Take up your cross and follow me, our crucified and risen saviour says. And he is worth it. He is worth it because he is the crucified and risen saviour. Because he died on the cross to save us and following him means I will, when I die, get to live the resurrection life that he obtained for all who believe in him.
So when people talk about my religion “working for me” I feel they’re missing the point – this faith is going to ultimately work for me when I die, and when I stand before God for judgement. You can’t see that right now. What you can see now is some of the ways Jesus helps me to cope with this life – and don’t get me wrong, that’s wonderful in itself! but it’s not what it’s all about. It’s not what Jesus died for. Which brings me to that car crash back in May…
You see, the car I was driving at the time – it came with an airbag, but at some stage there was a problem with the dashboard light, which kept flashing as though the airbag wasn’t working even though there was actually nothing wrong with the airbag. And then the laws were changed so that you’re not allowed to drive a car that has an airbag if the dashboard light is flashing. So my mechanic suggested that he’d simply remove the airbag – because it’s legal to drive a car that doesn’t have one.
I agreed. And when, one afternoon in May, a young driver did something stupid and as a result her car hit mine and threw me head on into another car, I was left with a very painfully bruised chest because I was thrown against the steering wheel and, guess what – no airbag…
My new car has an airbag. Does that help me in any way in my day to day life? No. The only difference it makes to me now is that I know that if something like that happens again, there’ll be something to cushion the blow. The airbag is not for now, it’s for later.
This is where the analogy breaks down (as analogies tend to…) because the airbag is for just in case, it’s for in case of something happening that might not ever happen. Jesus, on the other hand, is for when something happens that is definitely going to happen one day: death.
Because of Jesus, I know that if that car crash had ended differently and I’d died, I’d have been ok. Perfectly ok. Happy ever after – because he is not just the crucified saviour but the risen saviour, he can take me through death and into eternal life. When my time comes – and none of us know when our time will come, but we all know it will – Jesus himself is going to come and take me to the place he has prepared for me, and I’ll never again feel pain or sadness or any kind of suffering!
And this is one of the reasons I keep trying to tell people about him – you may not be aware of your need right now, you may be generally content with your life as it is, but one day you will die, and Jesus is the only one who can take you over the threshold to eternal life. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.
If you’re reading this and thinking: that’s all very well but it’s not for me, I’m Jewish – well, so am I… and more importantly, so is Jesus, who came as the Jewish Messiah as promised in the Jewish Scriptures, and he came to save everyone – Jews and Gentiles!