Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Is “linking up with Jesus” and “making him your best friend” the same thing as “accepting him as your Lord and Savior”? This is a great question I received last week! I’d like to use this question and answer it today.
I have three brief thoughts that may be helpful. FIRST: You will be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the Bible, let alone from the lips of Jesus, the words, “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.” A similar wording might be “asking Jesus into your heart” and that is also not to be found. In all of the New Testament, Jesus is mentioned as being Savior only 15 times and Lord over 600 times. In fact, 18 books of the 26 books in the New Testament don’t refer to Jesus as Savior even one time. Two of the four Gospels don’t either.
There is a hint of “accepting” Jesus in the 1st chapter of John: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. So, one might infer that coming into a relationship with Jesus has a sense of accepting him. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with this description; it’s just not as accurate to what Jesus taught.
SECOND: If our relationship with Jesus was just about accepting him at some point in time as our Lord and Savior, there is no follow-through implied or required. This is why Jesus invited those who heard him to follow him-to hear his words and practice them.
This is made clear in Jesus’ encounter with Matthew. It’s not so much you accepting Jesus, but does Jesus welcome and accept you. And, if you believe that Jesus does accept you, then how are you going to respond to him? This is how I see the call of Matthew. Matthew felt unacceptable to God, being a sinner and not a religious man. Yet, the new Rabbi Jesus approached him with total acceptance and invited him to follow in his steps.
THIRD: “Linking up” seems to be a good description of what Jesus says our relationship with him is. We are branches who are to remain, abide, cling to Jesus, the vine. We must do our best to hang on for our lives-to link up with Jesus as a branch has a linkage with the vine. Jesus makes it clear that without that connection, fruit-bearing is impossible and we cannot do anything.
In that same teaching time in John 15, Jesus makes it clear that he no longer is calling them slaves or servants, but friends.
So, I encourage everyone everywhere to link up with Jesus and hold on to him as you do your best to follow him with your life. As I’ve said before, Jesus is the only way out of here alive, so hang on! This is salvation, where eternal life begins right here on planet earth.