Can I trust Jesus?
Psychology studies show that it can take only a tenth of a second for a person to build an impression of a stranger by their face. And that this first impression can be so strong that longer exposure doesn’t really change that first impression.
What does this mean for our spiritual life? How do we learn to build up a good first impression of Jesus if we have never personally seen his face?
First, we have to encounter him in scripture. Matthew 3 shows us a Jesus that humbly lets John baptize him for righteousness sake and then God himself declares from the heavens that Jesus is his son whom he is well pleased. In Matthew 4, Jesus sacrifices his comfort and body to prepare for ministry. He overcomes Satan’s temptations through knowledge and a deep understanding of who God wants him to be. Then we hear his first public words, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
The first impression of Jesus here is of someone that knows the right thing, acts on the right thing, speaks the right thing, and makes the right thing available for others. Not bad as far as first impressions go.
Besides scripture, if we are going to develop a good first impression of Jesus we are going to have to personally encounter him. I can only speak from my own experience but I have found Jesus to be comforting, full of empathy, on my side, deeply concerned with my well being, and ready to guide me into a life of fullness and goodness. He has come to me in a parking lot, on a rock at a lake, in my room, on long runs, while feeding a baby, and in my car. These encounters have been full of blessings but also full of wisdom and inspiration to do something new and life giving. Sometimes I am convicted to change my behavior and choose a better way but sometimes I am simply reminded that I am loved and cared for.
Whether you are just hearing about Jesus for the first time or have been hearing about him your whole life, maybe now is a good time for a new first impression with Jesus.
Read the Gospels to learn more about him and understand him. Then follow his own example of spending time alone in prayer so you can encounter him for the first time or the 850th time.
Jesus can be trusted no matter what your own first impressions of him might have been. He is not afraid to meet you again and again. It is what he does.