I was never very good at school. I didn’t get straight A’s like my brothers did. I had to work twice as hard to get B’s. Usually I got a few B’s with a couple of C’s sprinkled on top. I would dread of the day that report cards were mailed home and I would pray for no D or F to appear.
Despite this trouble in school I did enjoy one subject in particular – math. It just made sense to me. All I needed was a formula. If I knew the formula I could plug the numbers in and find the answer. Math was the only subject where I was able to catch the ever elusive A.
When I went to college I learned most of the professor’s had some kind of formula for getting an A in their class. If I could figure out the formula then I could get an “A”.
I had 4 different classes with one of my Professors. The first class I got a C+. In the second class I did a little better with a B-. The third one I got a B+, and the fourth and final class I got an A-. By the fourth class I finally figured out his formula.
For most of my life, I viewed Christianity through a similar lens. I had the perfect formula for being an A+ Christian. It started on Sunday. I would go to church and later in the evening I attend youth group. This was to learn more about Jesus and be “closer” to Him.
Then I would take what I learned at church and bring it to my friends at school. I would try to move the conversation toward Jesus so I could share the good news with them about the Gospel. Another part of this A+ Christian formula was reading my Bible and praying to further learn how to be like Jesus.
For a while I felt as though I was becoming an A+ Christian. But then there was a point when everything broke down, the formula seemed to fall apart.
When I went to college I finally figured out how to get real A’s in real classes. It was unbelievable. Honestly, I didn’t know what it felt like to not have anxiety as the mid-term and final grades came out. But at this same time my formula for being an A+ Christian was falling apart.
In the past what I had been “good” at was Christianity, but this was no longer the case. The “formula” I had used my whole life was no longer working. I felt that I needed more than church, Bible reading, and prayer. The things I had been certain about before were now replaced with questions, lots of questions.
I didn’t know what to plug in where, when it came to Jesus. I was lost and confused. What I thought I had figured out was all scrambled. I had more questions than I had answers. The subject that I had done so well in changed. I felt like I was failing, but the funny thing about failing “Christianity” is that it felt like I was failing God as well as friends and family because they were the ones who raised me to believe what I was now questioning.
I had no map to show me where I seemed to be heading. I was lost and didn’t know what to do.
I went on a search as I continued to struggle with Jesus not fitting into the formula I had created. In that search I found my way to the Gospel’s because it seemed to most logical place to start.
When I opened Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John I found the disciples had their own formulas for Jesus.
The disciples had expectations for Him. They thought if Jesus was really the messiah then he needed to do messiah type things. The messiah was to be a political leader, He would save them from their oppressors, the Romans, and the messiah wasn’t supposed to die, especially on a cross.
When Jesus died on the cross the disciples thought they had misplaced their trust. They questioned if Jesus was actually the messiah or if they were going to have to wait for someone else. At this point, their formula for Jesus as the messiah was broken.
The disciples were scared about what might happen. They were followers of Jesus, the guy who was just killed on the cross. So, they did what scared people do, they locked themselves in a room till everything “blew over”.
“Suddenly, Jesus was standing among them!” This shattered their formula and expectations of the messiah. At this moment they realized they wouldn’t be able to figure Him out.
It wasn’t until the disciples stopped putting Jesus into a formula that they finally understood Jesus. Tweet This
They understood that Jesus wasn’t someone to “figure out”.
The same was true for me. Jesus changed once I stopped the putting Him into formulas and exceptions. Every other part of life seemed to have a formula so I thought Jesus was the same way. But Jesus never wanted me to “figure Him out”. Instead, Jesus wants me to be present with Him.
When Jesus is just a formula it’s as if I created a sculpture. When the formula fell apart so did my sculpture. It was broken into a million pieces. At first I tried to glue, tape, and do everything else I could think of to fix it.
But I couldn’t put the pieces back together. As I kept trying I grew more and more frustrated because they no longer fit.
When I stopped trying to glue it back together I stood up and in the place of the sculpture I saw Jesus, the real Jesus. I was met with a warm embrace because we both knew I had figured something out.
Jesus was never meant to be a formula. The formulas we have for Jesus will always fall apart. Those things have to be destroyed so we can actually see Jesus. When the dust settles we will see Jesus standing in the place of the sculpture.