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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

“What difference does Jesus make?”

As I write this, we are in mid November and in an early deep freeze.  The temp last night was 7 degrees, and we have, maybe, 4 inches of snow on the ground. I hear we have broken several temperature records. Yet a few trees still have beautifully colored leaves. This is a picture from my front yard showing the unexpected beauty we are experiencing. In a little more than a week Thanksgiving will be here, and then Christmas is only weeks away.

I often think about how things are now, and what they could be like if just a few minor things had been different.  This is not my way of wishing for something more, but rather a process of giving thanks for the great blessings in my life. I feel tremendously blessed. We don’t have anything extravagant, but we are blessed with all we need and more.

I was thinking along those lines just the other day and my mind went to Jesus and his great sacrifice of Love, for the whole world, but I especially thought of his great love for me and my family. Then the thought came to my mind, “What difference does Jesus make?”.

What if Jesus hadn’t come to Earth? There would be no Christmas of course. Whether you like the way Christmas is celebrated, or not, is irrelevant.  There would have been no nativity and therefore no road from Bethlehem to Calvary, no savior.

Time would be recorded differently, as the Gregorian Calendar which we commonly use counts from the believed date of the nativity of Christ. Many of our laws would be different.  Most of the organizations of the world that do humanitarian aid wouldn’t exist, and the list goes on and on.

That’s not really my point though.  When I consider what difference Jesus makes, I am considering a much more personal scenario. What difference does Jesus make… in my life?

Well, firstly, if it were not for Jesus I would be in some other line of work.  I certainly wouldn’t be a pastor, because there would be no Christianity. 

If not for Jesus in my life, I’m not sure I’d still be at that Caterpillar dealership either.  There was an issue that happened one year that brought me before the Vice President of the company.  After reviewing the facts he determined that my work performance, more specifically my character, spoke for itself.  He dismissed any investigation that could have ended in my termination.  Had I not known Christ and lived Him publically, I very well could have been involved in things that would have cost me my job.  Had my record with the company not demonstrated integrity, I would have likely been dismissed that day.

Without my relationship with the Lord, I probably wouldn’t have met my wife, Tracy, or had my girls.  I first saw Tracy’s beautiful face in church and shortly after, began my pursuit of her.  Even if we had met, it’s likely that we would have separated long ago because without Christ I wouldn’t be half the man I am today, and I would likely have mad devastating choices leading to our demise as a couple.

If it hadn’t been for Jesus I would probably not even be alive today.  Perhaps several things would have already taken me out of this life, such as my teenage love for driving way too fast, but certainly the wasp sting that nearly killed me in 1995 would have done me in.  I believe with all my heart, God spared my life that day to do His work.

I can think of hundreds of other such scenarios, and none of them end well, but the greatest difference that really matters hasn’t been mentioned yet.

What difference does Jesus make?  He makes all the difference!  If not for Him coming to Earth, taking my place in the wrath of God and dying for my sins. I would be unquestionably destined for Hell. There would be no hope for me.  I was too imperfect.  My heart was too stained. My life was too sinful to ever have any hope…  And you were there in the same boat with me.

Thank God for the difference Jesus makes!

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