Holding on to Jesus is not always good


I must begin by sharing that Jesus is my life, my love, my all! 
I was raised in the Church.  My grandfather was a pastor, my father was a pastor, my brother is a pastor and I have been a pastor for over two and half decades and am now privileged to be serving the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, as a District Superintendent. 
I fully affirm Wesley’s admonition that we “have nothing to do but save souls” and that our call as Methodists is to “spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land.”  For either of these desires to be met, a person must be holding on to Jesus!
Additionally, I have had times (as I am sure most everyone reading this has) in which the only thing that was able to keep my head above water was the fact that I was holding on to Jesus.  The struggles and storms of life can be so overwhelming that if I had not been holding on to Jesus, I do not know where I would be today.
With all that in mind, why would I dare to say that “holding on to Jesus is not always good”?  Well, it is because of the resurrection appearance recorded in Matthew 28:8-10.  The Message puts it this way:
The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. ‘Good morning!’ he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘You’re holding on to me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and I’ll meet them there.”
As anyone who has played or watched football knows, a person who is being held by the ankles is unable to move forward.  Additionally, the person who is doing the holding is also not able to move forward.  This strikes me as an important aspect of this resurrection appearance in Matthew 28.
Jesus intends to meet the disciples in Galilee.  Jesus wants to meet us in our respective Galilees—our respective communities and areas of influence.  However, if we hold on to Jesus in such a way that neither Jesus nor we can go to “Galilee,” then that is not a good thing!  And apparently our own fears are major factors with respect to how we are holding on to Jesus.
I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do the ways I hold on to and worship Jesus take me beyond the walls of my church?
  2. How do the ways I hold on to and worship Jesus bring me in contact and into relationship with people who do not currently know Jesus as Savior?
  3. Are the ways I am holding on to and worshipping Jesus born out of my fears or my faith…and how can I and my congregation move through this Easter season and into our respective “Galilees” in Faith-Centered rather than Fear-Driven ways?
As I have asked and answered these questions for myself, I am increasingly aware that even more than I am holding on to Jesus…I am being held by Jesus. 
When I believe that I am the primary one doing the “holding on to,” I tend to be less healthy, and less likely to be able to move forward.  But as we recognize that Jesus is the primary One doing the holding, we find ourselves continually being called to invite our brothers & sisters-in-Christ to go “Galilee” and meet Jesus there!
I know of no more wonderful of a way for Easter People--Resurrection People--to live in this world!  Amen.
(Rev.Charliam Renner is a clergy member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and is appointed conference superintendent assigned to the Embarras River District)