Will you accept Jesus into your life today?
Henry stared intently at the yellow letters on the front of the booklet. A young woman had handed it to him on the streets while he was going to buy his lunch. He went back and forth in his mind as he decided whether or not to open and read it. Next to the booklet on his desk lay a stack of reports that he would need to sort through. He was hoping to get them done by the end of his break. He could also smell the chicken and avocado roll he was still holding. It had probably gotten cold during the walk back to the office. He never liked having to eat his lunch in the office, but work had become so busy recently.
At the bottom of the front cover of the booklet was a picture of a wooden cross. This reminded Henry of the time when he had gone to church. It had been back in the college days. One of his business classmates Tim had invited him along to a church service for young adults one evening. Henry hadn’t been particularly interested in going to any church. He hadn’t grown up in a religious family. In fact, he had often joked that his parents were allergic to religion. Yet after class one particular day, he had ended up having a long conversation with Tim about his experiences of growing up in a Christian family and what it meant for him to be a follower of Jesus. This conversation had intrigued him so much that he had decided to finally accept the invitation to go to church.
Throughout his childhood, Henry had always been told that he wasn’t good enough. In his parent’s eyes, he was never as smart, athletic, hardworking and responsible as his older brother Chris. At school Henry was always the troublemaker. He had been a disappointment to all his teachers. He could still remember being told by his grade four teacher Ms Barry that he would never be able to achieve anything significant in his life. So, when he went to church for the first time he was shocked by what he learnt about Jesus. He was amazed by the love Jesus had for others around him, even those who were outcasts and didn’t seem worthy in the eyes of others. Even though his teachings sounded very strange, he seemed to genuinely care for people. For the first time in his life, Henry felt like he had met someone who accepted him for who he was. He didn’t need to try and prove himself to Jesus. He was already valuable to him.
Henry kept going back to the same church in the following weeks and months. He even started attending a Bible study run by one of Tim’s friends. He wanted to know more and more about this Jesus. He had never heard of anyone who was willing to die for their enemies. Yet Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, and had now risen from the dead. He learnt that through faith in Jesus, all people could now receive the free gift of salvation, no matter who they were or what they had done in the past.
For a while, Henry considered becoming a Christian, but he soon became preoccupied by other cares. His studies became busier and busier. He soon picked up a second job working at a local cinema on the weekends to try and save up for a new car. His church attendance began to drop down significantly. Henry also began dating Madeline, another one of his university friends. Although she had grown up in a Christian home, Madeline hadn’t been to church for many years and had little interest in hearing Henry mention anything about Jesus. In fact, she often encouraged Henry to skip the weekly Bible studies. In her eyes, he had more important things to focus on.
A number of friends from church began warning him about the dangers of putting other cares over God. They also asked him to consider whether his relationship with Madeline was more important than having a relationship with Jesus. Although Henry was initially grateful for their concern, he soon became annoyed by them. Everything in his life seemed to be coming together now. He was excelling in his university studies. He became captain of the university soccer team. A number of professors had commented that Henry had a promising future ahead. He had almost saved up enough money for a car and now he had a girlfriend. His parents even stopped calling him a failure. He no longer felt like a disappointment. Ms Barry had been wrong about him after all. Why couldn’t Henry’s church friends just be happy for him? He was too busy living his life now, he didn’t have time for Jesus. This sometimes made him feel guilty, but surely Jesus wanted him to enjoy his life too and plan well for a successful future. Besides, he would have plenty of time to think about becoming a Christian after graduation when he would no longer have to worry about his studies…
Henry continued to stare at the booklet on his desk. He could still remember when Tim had asked him to consider becoming a Christian. He had been ignoring Jesus for so many years now. Perhaps it was finally time to open his heart and let him in. He missed being a part of Tim’s church. He missed being a part of a group of people who genuinely loved and cared for each other, even though they all had barely anything in common. He missed the prayer times at the end of the Bible studies he used to attend where each person in the group could honestly share their struggles or anything that they were thankful for. He missed the sense of peace and childlike wonder he would get from hearing a Bible passage being read out. There was so much wisdom in it and Henry had often been amazed at how much these ancient teachings were still relevant to his own life. Most of all he missed being close to Jesus, the only person he had ever known who didn’t just love him because of his appearance, personality or achievements. He missed being close to the only person who truly knew and understood him and gave his life meaning outside of everything else that had preoccupied his busy life. Somehow his job, wealth and relationship with Madeline didn’t seem to give him the same sense of fulfillment he had experienced when he had first been learning about Jesus.
Henry still had a copy of the Bible Tim had given him all those years ago. It was next to the lamp on his bedside table. It was probably covered in dust by now, but he wondered whether this would be a good time to start reading it again. He could still remember some of Jesus’ parables from the Bible studies he used to attend. Perhaps he could start reading through the book of Matthew again. Henry even thought about showing Madeline the booklet when he got home. Perhaps after so many years she would finally be ready to talk about Jesus.
Yet he knew that accepting Jesus would cost him. It would mean that every part of his life would now belong to someone else; his dreams, his desires, his resources, his time. He already had plans for his own life. He was going to save enough money to travel around the world and ensure that his future kids could one day study at the best college in the country. He was going to work his way up to the top of the corporate ladder. He was going to save up for a mansion next to the beach one day where he could retire and live happily ever after. What if Jesus called him to give up these dreams? What if he had other plans for his life? Following Jesus would also mean giving up a few habits. Henry enjoyed the occasional binge drinking with work friends on Friday nights. He often told the occasional white lie at work to keep his managers happy. He had also been living with Madeline now for a few months. He knew that the Bible was strict on unmarried couples living together, but Madeline and him weren’t ready for marriage yet. Was he really willing to give all this up? Could he really count the cost of becoming a Christian? He needed more time. Perhaps he just wasn’t ready for Jesus yet.
Henry slowly opened the first drawer of his desk. He glanced at the wooden cross for one more moment before placing the booklet into the drawer. He closed it shut. Reading it would have to wait until tomorrow.