Is Jesus A Friend With Benefits?

Do we treat Jesus as someone who is just there for us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t remember what it was I had been thinking about, but the thought that came next was so startling that that was what stuck. I think it was something I have been thinking about lately where people like to say what God is doing in their lives, when I want people to tell me what they are doing in the life of God. After all, when we say “This is what God is doing in my life”, many times that’s our opinion of what’s going on. We could be wrong. However, we do know what it is that we are doing and we have to ask if we are serving or not.

We often talk about what it means to love someone and if you love them, you want to know them more and more. If you aren’t really invested in the relationship, then you don’t care about learning more about the other person. You’re just in the relationship for what the other person can do for you.

Many marriages are falling apart because people go into the marriage not thinking “What can I do to build up this relationship with this person?” but rather “What can this person do for me?” To some extent, we all seek our own good and it’s unavoidable and not always wrong, but when we do it at the expense of others, we have a problem. When we treat people as objects while denying their personhood, there is an issue.

Yet this is often how we treat Jesus. Do people really want to learn more about Jesus? It’s easy to figure that out. Think fast. When was the last time you heard about a church service offering a course on the doctrine of the Trinity? If you’re like me, your answer will be, “I can’t remember such a thing.”

Now think about this. When was the last time you heard a church offer a course on improving your marriage, getting your finances straight, being a better parent, etc. I am not saying those are wrong. The church should be offering those things. We should not be ignoring the weightier matters of knowing who Jesus is.

Dare I say it, but if we knew more about who Jesus is, maybe we would actually need less of the other seminars.

I remember as a child who didn’t go on overnight trips seeing kids in the Methodist Church come back from a big youth event and they were on fire for Jesus! They were super-excited! They wanted to go out and spread the gospel!

For about two weeks.

Here’s another question to ask. What did your pastor preach on yesterday? (If you are not reading this on Monday, just think to the last Sunday you were in church.) Honestly, many of you might have forgotten by the time you got home on Sunday what your pastor preached on. Could it be because it wasn’t anything new? Have you heard it before? Now think about that TV show you’re watching you really enjoy. What happened in the last episode? I’m sure you can tell me that.

We live in a culture where the church doesn’t really know who Jesus is. We just speak about what Jesus does. Sadly, the person no longer matters. This is one reason groups that come with anti-Trinitarian ideas can easily demolish Christians. Christians tend to only know Jesus by what He does instead of who He is.

Going back to the title, this is where it comes in. What do you call a relationship where you go to the other person just for what they can do for you and you don’t invest in them? You claim to love them, but your commitment is based on what they do for you. In modern terms, we think of this as friends with benefits.

Dealing with depression and anxiety? Come to Jesus. Want to get some extra money coming in? Come to Jesus. About to have a painful operation? Come to Jesus. Need to learn to crucify yourself and die to the world? Let’s not be hasty.

The Jesus we have that is rooted in being all about us will not change the world. The good news we will share is the good news that will feed narcissism rather than crucify it. We can talk about a relationship with Jesus, but too often, it is a one-sided relationship. If your walk with Jesus is all about what He has done for you, then when the so-called benefits stop, so will you. If your walk with Jesus is built on who He is and His death and resurrection, then you will have a much easier time. You will have a true covenant relationship, a marriage if you will.

Bottom line is either Jesus is your king and you serve Him, or it’s the other way around.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)