Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 ESV
Do you experience Jesus in your life in the same way you experience a drink at your local coffee shop?
Consider this: you may have a favorite coffee shop and a favorite coffee drink. More often than not when you rush in for a jolt you already know what you are ordering, your favorite cafe latte. But then there are those occasions when you go in and stare at the menu board, wondering if you want to try something new or different. Maybe one of those seasonal pumpkin spice latte. Your allegiance to your favorite drink is never a hinderance in trying something else. That cafe latte doesn't require absolute allegiance to its caffeine delight. It makes no claims of it being solely satisfying and its replacement with anything else being unacceptable.
But Jesus does. He makes absolute exclusionary claims about the nature of our relationship with him. He does not present himself to us in the same way our favorite coffee drink presents itself on the menu board of our local coffee shop. Jesus is not a menu option.
He is not only a way, a truth and a life. He is the only one. For humanity, there is no access to the creator God outside of faith in the truth claims of Jesus Christ. And if you call yourself a Christian it requires of us to not treat Jesus like an option on a menu.
But how do I know if I am experiencing and treating Jesus like a menu option? I can think of at least three measures by which to assess this:
- Is Jesus all satisfying? We treat Jesus like a menu option if Jesus is simply one of the many things we depend on to meet the innermost needs of our being. If Jesus is at level with entertainment, wealth, health, sensuality, career, human relationships, etc. with regard to satisfying us, then we are only experiencing Jesus as a menu option. The unfortunate truth is this: all else will disappoint. All else will leave us high and dry. No depths of hedonism has caused someone to claim that they lived a life fulfilled. But the Psalmist tells us: "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11 ESV) and Jesus claims: "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35 ESV)
- Are we as unflinching in our obedience as Jesus was? If our image of Jesus is one of a hippy who flaunted all of God's law and inspired an adventurous and relativistic spirit in regard to the commandments in the holy writ, then you couldn't be farther from the truth. Jesus's disobedience was not with regard to law, but with regard to its biased cultural interpretations. Such interpretations, in all ages, can be found on both the orthodox and liberal ends of theological thoughts. Instead Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Mathew 5:17 ESV) So if you think of Jesus as an inspiration to disobey the word of God with incomplete and biased interpretations, you are picking and choosing from the life of Jesus for it to conveniently justify your sinful living. And that is treating Jesus as a menu option.
- Does our worldview comport with Jesus' worldview? All have a worldview, even if we don't consciously analyze it. Our worldview is the reason we make moral decisions, take political stands and try to live the good life. It is hard to do any of the above three, and much more, without a worldview, even if it is poorly constructed. However, Christians have a religious duty towards how our worldview is put together. We need to adjust it, correct it, measure it and repent about it to fit with Jesus' worldview. If some conceptual framework in our worldview is inconsistent with Jesus', and if we are comfortable with that, and no anguish is caused within us to run away from it, in order to understand and comply with what Jesus has to say about it, then Jesus is merely a menu option to us.
My prayer at the end of this devotion is two fold. I pray for the church that it doesn't experience Jesus as a menu option. Jesus doesn't give us that option. Second I pray that I don't treat Jesus as a menu option. My salvation, bought at calvary, is too expensive and too precious for me to treat Jesus like that. And if there is a sphere of my life where in my desire, obedience or worldview I treat Jesus as optional, I pray that God reveals it to me and grants me repentance.