Everyday Awe

The phrase I avoid but also believe


It is a phrase slapped across bumper stickers and painted onto cement walls and written onto signs held up in the stands.


Jesus saves.


Photo credit: Anne Varak via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: Anne Varak via Flickr Creative Commons

It sounds so stale. Christians have worn out this phrase, so that the world rolls their eyes at the sight of its letters.


I get embarrassed sometimes when I see it. I don’t want people to think of me as “that kind of Christian.” The kind that breaks a complicated faith down to pithy sentiments. The kind that covers up pain with prayers and promises that God works all things. The kind that speaks before it listens, or worse, yells before anyone is even interested.


And so, I run away.


I bolt from that phrase as if it is the kryptonite that will freeze my powers of ever having friends again. I am afraid of being bold. I am fearful that the words will come out wrong and I will sound like a weirdo. I am scared of making false promises.


But mostly, I am terrified of rejection.


And so I talk about how God is with me, or what my church is doing to help the poor, or how Jesus has helped me become a better person. All these topics are safe. They don’t make me sound like the psycho Christian lady. They are subjects that people both inside and outside the church can respect.


I am like Nicodemus, who goes to talks to Jesus about His identity under the cover of night. Fearful of what being seen might do to his reputation.


How fitting that it is during this hidden conversation that Jesus says these most famous words in all of the Bible,


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17


Jesus saves.


I admit to you, right here and right now, that I believe this to be true. Not because I’ve seen it on a t-shirt, but because I have felt it in the depths of my soul.


I want to talk with you over coffee about why I believe this. I want to be bold and tell you that Jesus saves. I want to talk about what my heart used to be like and how it changed after I decided this faith was true. I want to tell you how my life isn’t perfect and how my faith journey hasn’t always been easy, but how that doesn’t make the statement “Jesus saves” any less true or meaningful.


For me of for you.


I believe that each of us needs saving. We need to be saved from our regrets and our motives and our hurts and our angers and our mistakes and our false identities. And I believe that Jesus does that.


I believe each of us are wanderers in this world that God so desperately loves. And God has pursued us with His love in the form of His Son. Not to condemn us for going our own way, but to gather us into His arms and bring us home as His children.


I want to be less afraid and tell you that. I want to say it to you more often.


I think it’s the most important thing I can say.


Jesus saves.


Jesus Said Lent Series ButtonA series to honor the Lenten season by reflecting on various teachings of Christ. Let’s think about who He was and what He came to do by talking about the words that came straight from His mouth.

  • http://www.thechurchofnopeople.com/ Matt Appling

    I hear you, Steph! My imagination can conjure up so many ways I can be rejected, hardly any of which ever happen. So I often stick to the safe edges of faith rather than the core of the gospel.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      I like how you phrased that, Matt- the safe edges of faith. That’s where I spend most of my time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vintagekaren Karen Bil Ratzlaff

    Stephanie…I so get what you’re saying! Thanks for the encouragement. I know I need to step out of my comfort zones and risk talking about the real issues of faith!

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Yes, Karen- I too need to step out of my comfort zone. Let’s hold each other’s virtual hands as we do it, okay?

      • http://www.facebook.com/vintagekaren Karen Bil Ratzlaff

        Agreed!!! :)

  • http://twitter.com/kikimojo kirsten oliphant

    Yeah–that is SO hard. When I think about the eternal perspective, it’s a great reminder to me that I need to be engaging in this next step of discussion about faith. But it’s so hard to develop relationships with people and then make a statement about absolute truth, and about our need for a savior. BUT IT’S THE BEST NEWS IN THE WORLD. So yes, I am so with you here.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Yes, Kirsten- that’s just it. The next step of the discussion is the one I too often fail to take.

  • Laura Crosby

    Love the identification with Nicodemus! So true of most of us!

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Thanks, Laura. I wonder how many of us would have also asked Jesus to talk in the dark of night.

  • http://twitter.com/Vaderalman Mark Allman

    I am struggling with how to say this. I do not think people are drawn to bold statements. I think that are drawn to bold vulnerability; how we let others see us as we are and how we live with vulnerability and how God can step in and lift us from that place of burden. That the lives we have lived without hope can be turned to lives not perfect but lives where we have hope. Hope for a better tomorrow and hope for an eternity with Him.
    I am not drawn to bold statements. I am not drawn to people with perfect lives. I am drawn to those that are real and are willing to let you see the good, the bad, and the dark.

    Yes Jesus saves; saves us from a life without hope; a life where we dance close to the edge of the abyss, and redeems us to Himself and takes us out of our darkness.

    • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

      Mark, thank you for your comment. I am glad you stepped out to make it.

      I hope my heart came through above in what I meant by the word “bold.” It isn’t in the signs and shouts and pithy statements made without relationship. That is exactly what I hope to redeem this phrase from. And it is sad to me that somehow we have felt those things to be bold- I think it’s cowardice. It’s not based in the messy and beautiful context of relationship that Jesus lived in.

      I want to have conversations with people- to hear their stories and to share mine. The pieces that have changed and the pieces that are still messy.

      What I too often do, that I want to change, is stop those conversations one step before this statement. I stay, as Matt said below, on the safe edges of faith. I don’t want to tell someone this as a solution to all their problems, or at a time that feels manipulative of their relationship, or in anyway.that sells this statement short of the depth of its meaning. But I do want to do want to be honest and say that faith in Jesus has given me a hope and peace I never had otherwise, and I think that it would do so for them as well.

      I like the way you said it- bold vulnerability. I hope I can mix that with courageous wisdom.

      • http://twitter.com/Vaderalman Mark Allman

        I agree Stephanie. Painting Jesus saves on the side of a rail car or shouting it in the streets is like doing a drive by. As you say cowardice with destruction or apathy instead of redemption the result. Yes I think I understood your bold and I think you do that well … the bold vulnerability with courageous wisdom. I see it here often. :)

        It does take courage to be vulnerable and not stay on the safe side of the street; sometimes alot of courage.