“Do you think you see Jesus as a lifeboat, or a luxury?” My friend and I are driving, slowly picking apart the way we’ve seen Jesus preached in our communities, churches, and young adults groups. “Because sometimes, I think we miss telling people why Jesus is so incredible in the first place.”
It’s a sleepy Sunday afternoon, and she and I are falling into our rhythm of long drives and strong coffees and deep talks, tumbling into deep and hard and holy conversations interspersed with laughter and good stories – my favorite. We’ve both noticed this pattern – Jesus being preached as if He’s a jetpack to make life better, if we want Him.
Somewhere along the line, I’ve observed, modern Christians have picked up the idea that if the world needs Jesus, we should market Him really well.
Come to Jesus, He’ll make your life better. He’ll take away your pain. He’ll bless you. He’ll show you the perfect plan for your life, give you a great relationship, and guarantee you a happily ever after.
Now, I do believe in a God who delights in giving good gifts to His kids. I believe He leads and guides us as we seek Him. But Jesus is not a shortcut to our desires, nor does He bribe us with a life of little luxuries in exchange for our devotion. This is the prosperity gospel, and a short-sighted, false promise that cannot deliver.
I believe with my whole heart that with Christ is the most beautiful, satisfying, and incredible thing we’ll experience on earth. Not because He gives us an endless stream of extravagant gifts – because He redeemed our souls and breathed life into the places where death once reigned.
Jesus is not a jetpack.
Jesus is not a dealer of little luxuries.
Jesus is our lifeboat – and He is everything.
Let’s talk about that.
Last year, I watched Titanic. Besides the obvious sobbing with my girlfriends over Jack and Rose’s tragic love story, I was struck for the first time with the chilling image of the Titanic helplessly immersed in the ocean. We watch as the ship defenselessly sinks, and are reminded of the miserable deaths that became inevitable for so many. It’s sobering, and horribly tragic to watch. That image of the sinking Titanic is branded into my memory — and in this moment, we are forced to acknowledge that the only hope anyone had was in the promise of lifeboats.
Lifeboats: truly, their only hope.
We all know the story. “Not even God himself could sink this ship,” one person famously said. Confidence was so high, that plans were scratched for more lifeboats – leaving over twenty-two hundred people with a grand total of twenty lifeboats, less than a third of what they should have had. And because of this flippancy, fifteen hundred died, and only seven hundred and five lived.
If the ship truly was invincible, no one would have needed lifeboats. No one would have lost their lives.
And yet, they did.
May we never make the same mistake.
I wonder what our faith would look like if we saw Jesus as our lifeboat.
It’s easy to look around at the generally comfortable lives we live, and forget about the state our souls are in. We forget that we’re on a sinking ship. We forget that we’re broken sinners standing before a holy, righteous God. When we see the gravity of our sin, only then can we rejoice in the incredible hope that we have in Christ – the sacrifice of pure grace that calls us out of death and into life, out of sinking in the ocean and onto dry ground.
When we try to sell Jesus as if He only exists to make our earthly lives better, we’re giving people the wrong gospel, and we ourselves are forgetting how good His grace really us.
A gospel that tells people they’re fine as they are can’t save.
A gospel that presents Jesus as one in a sea of viable options can’t save.
A gospel that elevates the self and says Jesus only exists to improve our lives and make us happier, healthier, and more blessed can’t save.
A gospel that paints sin as irrelevant can’t save.
But when we look upon the Cross, Christ conquering death itself as He suffered in our place and rose from the grave – we see His love and justice satisfied in one great act.
We see a grace greater than our sin that calls us into freedom and abundant eternal life.
We see a righteousness that comes by believing on Christ, not by being adequate by our own works.
We see a hope that does save – a hope that gives life to our souls where sin and death once held us captive and condemned, a hope that does not disappoint.
If we see Jesus as anything less than all of what Scripture tells us He is, then we cannot experience His goodness and grace the way we were meant to. If sin is not that bad, then grace is not wonderful. If Christ is not our lifeboat to rescue us from the death we deserved, why should we love Him? Why should we live for Him? If sin had no consequence and our default was not death, Christ would not matter.
Anyone who tells us Jesus exists to make our lives better and happier and more comfortable is missing the point: we once stood condemned, but God offered us hope and redemption through Christ because of His vast love.
He doesn’t love us because we are good. He loves us because He is. Why, then, would we not want to love and serve Him with everything?
God does give us good things. I thank Him every single day for the beautiful things in my life I know I do not deserve. Many nights, I sit in bed with my prayer journal on my lap, overwhelmed by the ways I have watched Him work in my life, and I am reminded in a thousand little ways what a kind God He is. I fully believe He delights in giving us good gifts, and His Spirit lives in us. And in Him, we should find peace, and comfort, and strength in our pain, help in our struggles, joy in our affliction.
And yet, He’s not only good because He has the power to bless us – He’s good because He has saved us for all eternity.
We needed a lifeboat, and that is who Christ is.
Hallelujah, what a Savior.