Who Rules the Universe?

I had such a great time leading this discussion on Revelation Chapter 5 last Thursday! It’s all about the meekness and trustworthiness of the God who rules and judges the world. I think it can really give some perspective on the disruptive crises that face our nation and the globe… Take a listen!

“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals…

And… I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…”

 

Venerating Jesus

     I’ve touched on in the past how I believe there is a massive reformation movement taking place right now within the Body of Christ. By God’s grace we are correcting a ton of theological and practical errors we have been making for a very long time, learning to better and more consistently express the true heart of the Gospel. God’s House is being reconstructed and it is starting to look drastically different than it did just a few decades ago.

     As the reformers of our generation continue this work of reconstruction, we need to avoid developing our own set of structural errors to replace the previous ones. One such erroneous approach that I have found some leaders to be taking is to undermine the unique glory and honor that is due to Jesus Christ. The logic goes something like this;

     Jesus was a great prototype for what all people are called to be. He set a wonderful standard. He became a role model. Yet we must not venerate him too much — for in doing so we hold him to an unattainable position above us. We elevate him to a higher level than ourselves and lose our drive to actually emulate him and continue his work.

     Jesus meant to show us what it is like to be human though, and we all are filled with the Christ-nature that he embodied so well. We can all carry on his fight against the powers that be.

     There is a lot of truth to this line of thought, in that we are all empowered to carry on Christ’s legacy of impacting the world. We are filled with His Spirit and taught to follow in His ways. He is our Elder Brother. It is of utmost importance however to note that He is also the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. He is the complete expression of who God is in bodily form. He is not God’s only child, but He is the only begotten Son — the one in whom and from whom the rest of us get our identity in the first place. Further, He is the one who dreamed us up and loved us from eternity past.

     If there is anyone deserving of being “idolized,” it is Jesus. We are Jesus’ creation, Jesus’ brethren, and Jesus’ desired Bride. Also, we are redeemed by His blood… not just by His example.

     If there is anyone deserving of being “idolized,” it is Jesus. 

     There are two primary reasons that come to my mind as to why it is important to clarify all of this. First of all, if Jesus is merely our example of how to be humane, then we are all still basically under the Old Covenant Law. We are all still bound in the system of trying to perform and prove ourselves in order to feel like we are good enough people. We still live under the burden to try to improve or fix ourselves, to be the solution to our world’s systematic problems, to master following the right teachings — and to do it all in our own limited abilities. This is humanism, moralism and legalism. It does not give us the beautiful message of transformative Grace that Christ’s atoning work on the Cross did. It leaves us having to become our own saviors in some form or fashion.

     That is actually an unrealistic pressure that Jesus came to deliver us from.

     The second problem is that without venerating Jesus, we actually undermine our own ability to follow Him. If Jesus is just our template to follow, then we can always compare ourselves to Him and end up feeling like failures. If He is the object of our devotion however, He Himself actually becomes our fuel and our inspiration for carrying on His mission in our own lives.

     Paul wrote that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” In other words, as we lovingly adore Jesus, as our hearts gaze upon His beauty and we esteem Him above all else, we are shaped by His Spirit to look increasingly like Him in our present state. Those of us in Christ discover and manifest our truest selves in worshiping His glorious God-self. This is key to how He nurtures and develops Christ-likeness within us.

Those of us in Christ discover and manifest our truest selves in worshiping His glorious God-self. This is key to how He nurtures and develops Christ-likeness within us.

     Simply put, wherever you give your attention is where you end up heading. If we set our sights on all the problems we need to fix, the problems just get bigger in our eyes. We look for who is at fault and we get more introspective or more critical of others. We then become contributors to the problem ourselves.

     If like the Bible says though, we set our focus “on things above, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand,” it is inevitable that we will grow in His character, see from His perspective and be beautified. We will more naturally channel the authority being released in His Throne Room here to the earth and actually become His hands, feet and mouthpieces. We are utterly dependent upon the effectiveness of this process, of this relationship, of this communion that we have access to in the Presence of the King of Kings.

     Be reminded, if you really want to emulate Jesus, He “Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Then, when the opportunity presented itself, when the need arose, or when He was interrupted, He would rise to the occasion and glorify His Father.

     Likewise, if we give ourselves to a lifestyle of worship, contemplation, and fellowship with the exalted One who is “the way, the truth and the life,” we will more consistently ourselves walk as “little christs” multiplying across the earth to His credit. We will be more effective change agents and we will be anchored in the hope that only He provides.

     Best of all, Jesus will have the hearts of those whose love He died to win. Let us give Him that reward freely.

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Salvation from… God?

I don’t know who originally created this meme, but I saw it on Facebook a while back and had to screen shot a picture of it:

This is laughable, but the maker of this image has a really good point. 

Most of what I’ve known as the Gospel my whole life was a message of love, forgiveness, and mercy… set against the backdrop of a God who gave violent retribution to those who refused to accept His salvation plan. It wasn’t always clearly stated, but there was this underlying idea communicated that Jesus came to save us from God ultimately. If you took your theology studies deep enough, you’d see this very dark message hidden in the details.

Fortunately, I’ve come to be convinced that salvation really is a gift from a perpetually good God who has NEVER been set against us. It was we who were opposed to him, not the other way around. Memes like this though provide good commentary on the way we have utterly perverted and miscommunicated the Good News we have been entrusted with.

I’m not going to go into a deep theological discussion in this post, but I wanted to post it as simple food for thought. We should ask ourselves, “Does our understanding of the Gospel ever make God look like the bad guy unnecessarily?” If so, we shouldn’t be surprised when masses of millenials are rejecting it.

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