My Christian faith came alive four years ago when I was 16 years old. I became friends with Jesus. At 16, I could often be found in places, and in possession of things you wouldn’t want a 16-year-old to have! In my very brief experience of the world, I’d grown to believe that this ‘God’ person (if He even existed), was distant, disinterested and in fact, actually really boring! I’d done my fair share of surviving dull services, listening to a language I couldn’t understand, and observing what appeared to me to be, an elaborate club for keeping people quiet! I remember thinking, ‘If this is what the Church is like, He probably isn’t too much better’. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Little did that 16-year-old reprobate know, that when I was introduced to Jesus, I was meeting the most playful, fun, interested and loving Person one ever could meet!
I love how C.S Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, articulates the heart of Jesus as a Lion: “Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” … “Safe?” said Mr Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you”. (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 1950).
Jesus is not tame, he is hardly polite, but He is good. When we read the stories of the New Testament, Jesus didn’t act like the modern perception of the ‘good Christian man’; hanging out with thieves, prostitutes and drug addicts; raising dead people back to life, washing the feet of society’s underbelly, and literally ‘on the run’ from the religious ‘police’. He constantly subverted the expectations of everyone around him and was completely undefined by the culture he lived in. This Jesus wasn’t anything like the person I’d imagined, and once I’d met him I realised, He wasn’t boring, and He definitely was not tame!
I began to see the world differently. I saw God in the most bizarre-looking animals; in the sheer vastness of space; in the wonder of the stark difference between flowers. I was beginning to see the utter craziness of creation! I thought to myself, ‘If the Creator of all of this stuff is anything like His creation, then surely he can’t be boring – he must be wild.’ As my friendship with this ‘wild God’ grew, I saw it was impossible to remain unchanged. Not only was (and is) this God wild, fun and risky, but so was the love that He offered to me – to us. I’ve become convinced that God himself did not come to earth in the body of a man, in a time when there was no running water, to make friends with the unloveable, pour his heart out for others, walk thousands of miles, ultimately to die on a cross by the hands of those he adored, and after living in close-quarters for all those years, suddenly to want a detached, professional, clinical relationship with us. He did all that to be intimate with us, here and now.
Jesus wants to be ‘in the thick of it’ with me – with us – in our lives right now. To know us, and for us to know him, deeply and honestly; to know His love with our whole hearts, across every area of our lives. Not just on a Sunday morning in a suit and tie, or at an event with electric guitars and purple lights, but to know him whilst driving to work, making the tea or washing the dishes – or climbing a mountain! – in the highs and the lows of our entire lives.
This wild, all-encompassing Love that entered my life those four years ago, has completely redefined who I am. My values changed. I stopped trying so hard to be ‘cool’ (most of the time). I was filled with compassion for people who I never would
have looked at twice. My friendships became more honest, and no longer hung on the thread of opinion, and I was given a joy that cannot be taken away.
The type of friendship Jesus offers us is written across creation. It screams, ‘He is far more extravagant than our minds can imagine; more intimate than we’re used to; closer than the person next to us, and even more loving than the greatest of Fathers amongst us.’ His love was never designed to fit neatly in a pew, nor at a prayer meeting. The only place He ever intended for it to fit, is in an open heart. That is the only place the God of the universe has made big enough for Himself to reside permanently. This is how we know such intimate, wild love. It must take place in the only place that we have the keys to: our hearts. And that is all this messy, extravagant, wild, lovely, untamed – and good – God wants. All He wants is us.
If you would you like to know Him in this way, Jesus made it possible. All you have to do is let Him in.
Archie Croft is former Ministry Associate of Chanctonbury Church, having been on staff working with the youth for 2 years since leaving Steyning Grammar School. He is now planning to continue his wild adventures with his wild God in this wild Creation!