I was on a visit to south Manchester some years ago, when I came across a shop sign near the road. The sign read: “Last Carpet Shop Before the Motorway”. I’ve never forgotten it, and it’s probably attracted many new customers over the years. Even so, when you’re driving carpets are completely irrelevant. It’s highly unlikely that, on seeing the sign, passing motorists screeched to a halt, ran into the shop and bought a carpet before joining the motorway!
Many people treat Jesus in the same way. To them Jesus is as much use, they think, as a carpet shop before a motorway. How can someone who lived 2,000 years ago be of any use to me in my post-modern, Twenty-First Century life?
A few days ago I watched a TV programme, which followed a UK celebrity as she enjoyed a day out on a Caribbean Island. The day was a Sunday, so she popped into a local church service to enjoy the cultural atmosphere. She was so overcome by what she experienced, that she eventually left in tears.“It’s fabulous,” she said. “I don’t think we thank whatever it is that’s out there enough, [but] these people do. Just being here and seeing their faith makes me feel so humble. But that is what we all need …” The people in that church had a joy that’s often unseen in our post-modern society. They knew their God and had an unshakeable faith in His love for them. Theirs is a relationship that transcends anything that our material world has to offer, and what’s more it’s real!
Having a personal relationship with Jesus gives you a peace and security that sees you through the ups and downs of life. It’s not trust in an energy or an impersonal life force, because Jesus is just as much alive today as He was then, and very much at work in the lives of millions in the Twenty-First Century. His love for the marginalised, His care for the sick and His passion for social justice haven’t been diluted by the years. His offer of forgiveness and a fresh start speaks to the hearts of us all.
The message of many world religions is basically: ‘Be a better person’. But Jesus is different; no matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, He offers us Himself.
If you’re someone who likes to live life in the fast lane, don’t ignore Jesus in your race to get ahead. His way is the red carpet that leads to eternal life, which only a few take the trouble to discover. As Jesus Himself said:
“Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Matthew 7:14 (NIVUK)