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Jesus-Centered Life youth devotion no.04

The Disappearing Jesus

A junior high girl had just served as a leader in a churchwide worship experience during Holy Week. She’d spent several days leading people from her congregation into a deeper relationship with Jesus through an interactive devotional experience. In the midst of her giddy excitement about the experience, she was asked to describe Jesus. She scrunched her forehead, then offered this hopeful response: “Well, I’d have to say he’s really, really nice.”

Well, what about the time Jesus made a whip and chased all the money-changers out of the Temple? The girl scrunched her forehead again, and the smile disappeared from her face. Finally, she blurted: “Well, I know Jesus is nice, so what he did must have been nice.” Her response represents the norm in our culture—most people, no matter how old, primarily describe Jesus as “nice.” And that’s profoundly sad. Why? Well, of course, Jesus was “nice” to the people he healed or fed or rescued. But he would never be voted Mr. Congeniality. He definitely wasn’t nice when he was blasting (over and over) religious leaders or calling his lead disciple “Satan” or an innocent Canaanite woman a “dog.”

The point is that a merely nice Jesus is no Jesus at all; he’s like a declawed version of Narnia’s Aslan. And if the Jesus we know isn’t really the Jesus of the Bible, our passion for him will grow weak. We crave a real relationship with a real person.

Living It Out

Our journey toward re-encountering Jesus requires a willingness to think about him differently—-to see him in new ways. Maybe the idea that Jesus wasn’t always Mr. Nice Guy is a new thought for you. HOORAY! You’re on your way to renewing your relationship with Jesus! So let’s keep at it. Here are a few questions to get you started:

Jesus wasn’t always “nice,” but he was always motivated by love. How can that be possible?

Can you think of a time when you were overly concerned about being “nice”—-maybe to the point that it actually did more harm than good?

Here’s a tough one: Jesus wasn’t always “nice,” but the Bible teaches that His Spirit living in us wants to produce kindness in us (Galatians 5:22-23). What are we supposed to do with that?

Sometimes there are no easy answers. Like we discovered in the last devotion, some of this following Jesus stuff is not easy—-but it’s so worth it!

Not easy, but so worth it!