Half of me feels afraid that what I write this week will come off as trite and redundant; something we have all heard before. Jesus is the Christ; Son of the living God. God. Man. Savior. Human. Perfect. Divine. Always existing. Never ending. The living Word. The Light. The Life. Bread. Without him, nothing was made that is made. He is infinite, yet he was born and died and ascended. Sinless. Spotless. Beyond comprehension.
And the other half of me wants to completely skip this week because it comes down to a hard, absolute, black and white statement. Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. Therefore, he is the only way to God. Through him and him alone is salvation and eternal life.
Words, easy to say, hard to swallow. If Christ is Truth than every other way that sets itself up as truth is wrong. No one wants to admit to being wrong and most people don’t want to tell others they are wrong either. That doesn’t jive with our current social culture. It doesn’t sit well with the sensitivities of the emerging generations.
This culture allows me to believe in right and wrong as long I wholeheartedly accept that they don’t really exist. I can believe that Christ is central and the culmination of the story of humanity as long as I don’t eschew Hinduism or pluralism or Islam or Buddhism or atheism or any other ism and sincerely believe they are wrong. I can disagree quietly and respectfully to myself but I can’t actually be so heartless as to believe in anything with complete and utter faith.
But if faith is not absolute, then what is it? If Christ is not the pinnacle of Christianity, then we are to be the most pitied. For there are no works, no good deeds, no self-attainment and achievement to fall back on.
My soul hinges on reality of Christ or nothing at all.
Apart from him there is nothing, only hopeless death.
The truth is never easy but it always sets you free. Sin is sin is sin – no matter what it is. I would love to stand here and tell you that I don’t deserve the same fate as a murderer or a child molester or a jihadist or a con artist. But who judges my scales? Who holds the weights of morality and justice and defines the terms?
We are all biased and partial in our verdicts of others. How could I hope to get exact justice from the very ones I’ve hated and judged or ignored? How could I demand truth from those I’ve lied to, cheated, and stolen from? When I take an honest look at the depths of my brokenness, my true, desperate, and only hope is a God that will not hold me responsible for my misdeeds though I deserve every retribution; a God that planned to sacrifice of himself in perfection to clear the slate on my behalf.
Christ must be the Messiah or we should be the most ashamed. His is God or he is a complete raving, lunatic nutter; a sociopathic, narcissistic liar.
I like the logic and the neatness of the historical figure of Jesus, along with the fulfillment of prophecies and the enduring Gospel through the centuries that followed his life, death, and resurrection. I like the distilled Sunday School versions of his life and the message of love, acceptance, and reconciliation that the redemption story paints.
However, the exclusivity of Christ makes me uncomfortable. All of his words, comprehensive and undiluted in authority, give me pause and make me tremble. It’s easier to just pick and choose the passages that suit my needs and make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Jesus heals the sick. Jesus welcomes the children. Jesus feeds the hungry crowds.
But, concurrently, he said that he is the only way to the Father. He warned of hell and damnation. He embraced the hookers and the swindlers while snubbing the religious upper class. He ate and drank and made claims that equated him to God, defined him as God. This man. This lowly, commoner from an unimportant city. This maverick inciting the crowds and inflaming those who spent their lives in study and in search of the coming Messiah.
And they couldn’t even recognize him. Because he bids us to lay aside self and status and striving and simply bow in acceptance to his Lordship and provision – even when it looks nothing like what we’ve been expecting.
So how do I answer the question? Who do I say he is? Prophet? Teacher? Madman? While my intellect and sensibilities try to rebel, the Spirit compels me and reveals the Truth; the only words worthy of my belief. Jesus can only be who he says he is: the Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, Savior, Redeemer and Light of the world.
In response to the We Believe message series at Grace Church. Check it out at: http://discovergrace.com/we-believe-current-message-series-and-service-times/