“Is Your Jesus too Small?”
This topic has been tough to write about. As I have tried to express ideas about how Christians chip off part of the Gospel and use it for their own agenda, I know I risk offending people. But these ideas are too important to ignore. What Adam Hamilton is really saying in this chapter is that people really don’t have a deep understanding of what Christianity stands for and I would agree.
Jesus refers to Himself as “the light”, “the living water,”, “the way”, the “good shepherd”, “the vine”, “the bread”, “the door” and “the gate”. What do these images mean? How many Christians really dedicate themselves to Bible study and have a serious commitment to finding their own answers in the Gospel accounts?
I wish I could say we all do, but do we?
What do most people do instead? They take what they are fed by others and that is what they believe.
The Bible is there for all of us to learn on our own but people say it is too hard to read or maybe in reality, we are too busy to put in the time to read it or the effort to understand it.
What is the result? Most of us don’t really know firsthand what Jesus and His Father advocate.
This week I have tried to write about the social justice Christianity of the liberals, the democrats. I have tried to write about the personal relationship Christianity of the conservatives, the republicans.
Just chips off the Gospel message.
What did Jesus do in His ministry here on earth? He challenged the religious leaders of His time for their hypocrisy. He was a devout Jew, a rabbi, yet He took on the Essenes and their refusal to participate in the world. He took on the Sadducees and their compromises with the world and He took on the Pharisees and their overemphasis on legalism.
He called Himself Lord. This not only put Him at odds with the religious leaders of his day but also Rome. This was a title that was claimed by Caesar. He called people to repent of their sins and submit to the reign of God. His focus was on how people were living in this world and He called us to sacrifice ourselves so others with less can have their needs met.
His message is a message of balance, not extremism. He advocates a worship that is much bigger and broader than most of us can comprehend.
I wrote on June 23rd that Jesus would probably not be that comfortable in our churches today. For some, that is probably an offensive thought, but it leads to the question, where would Jesus be ministering today? Where would He be comfortable?
Pastor Hamilton has an idea: “I think Jesus would find Himself most comfortable sitting outside a homeless shelter or a gay bar, telling stories about prodigal children and the fathers who long for them to come home. I can see Him smiling as He tells about the shepherds who won’t stop looking for the sheep that wandered away. I can even picture Him in the foyer (or food court?) of our contemporary temples or the shopping malls saying things like, ‘don’t worry about what you will eat or drink or what you will wear…but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’”
Is Adam Hamilton crazy to picture a Jesus like this?
How will we really know if we don’t open our Bibles and find out for ourselves? Yes, the message of God in our Bible is hard to understand. Yes, the role model of Jesus Christ is a tough role model to emulate because Jesus was so devout but the most important question we all face as Christians is what must we do to be the best Christians we can be?
We must read the Bible, weigh the evidence and think about what is in God’s Book. As Christians we must naturally focus on the Gospel; weigh the claims of Jesus and think about what He advocates.
Don’t take anyone’s word for it.
It is best to find out for yourself…
Bypass the people who would have you adopt their viewpoint, for their viewpoint is not the one that God intends for you. Dare to have the discipline to discover your own way to God by reading His Scriptures.
This is a big reward: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” [John 5: 24].
Folks, I don’t have to tell you.
That is not a chip off the Gospel.
That’s the biggest goal for Christian living.