Have you ever heard someone refer to Jesus Christ as "my Jesus?"
I used to hear that phrase a lot in old church songs, and from the mouths of little old church ladies. Back then, I would hear the words and think to myself that they sounded exclusionary. My interpretation was that when you sang or talked about "my Jesus," that you were saying that God was somehow exclusively yours. That you had some claim on the Divine that no one else had. So it was offensive to me.
Cut to about a month ago, when I received a very long message from an acquaintance. This message detailed in no uncertain terms that the individual who wrote it believes that I will be condemned to hell when I die. My confession of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior has little to do with whether or not God will accept me, according to the message. Instead, my stances on controversial issues like whether or not to affirm LGBT+ individuals will determine whether God will love me by welcoming me into the presence of the Divine, or "love" me by damning me to eternal conscious torment.
While I wish I could tell you that I took one look at that message and shrugged it off, I can't. It's not true. I responded with as much kindness and truthfulness as I could, and then tried to let it go. But it brought to mind all of the terrible questions that once drove me from God.
God, do you hate me? God, will you "love" me by casting me away from you forever? God, do you wish I had never been born? ... Jesus, do you care about me at all?
And God, kind and faithful as ever, has wrapped me up in love and comfort. God has reminded me of how far he was willing to go to save me: not only by the love and power of the resurrection 2,000 years ago, but also by intervening the night I tried to end my life. God has brought some beautiful people to remind me of how valuable and beloved I am.
Which leads me to tell you that I now understand why those little old church ladies called Jesus, "my Jesus."
That phrase has come to mind at least a few times a day, every day for the last several weeks. When I see something atrocious in the news, hear of some tragedy, or am reminded that some people really do believe that the love of God looks like hatred, I will think to myself, "but my Jesus." But my Jesus loves those children. But my Jesus sees that pain. But my Jesus will intercede.
I say, "my Jesus" not because Jesus is at all interested in choosing me before or above anyone else. Rather I say, "my Jesus" because I know if he is truly mine, then he is truly everyone else's as well.
God is interested in my raw reality - the fear and sorrow of my spiritual trauma, and my desperate desire to be loved - and is invested in proving that Divine Power is here for me. Which shows me that God is interested in the groaning of the world and is invested in redeeming all of it. Divine Power is here for us.
My Jesus has gone out of his way to ransom me from the hell I've lived in, and he is doing the same for this entire planet and everyone on it.
He's your Jesus too. He's my Jesus. He's our Jesus.