I recently started reading the book Love Wins by Rob Bell. This book has stirred up a lot of controversy. Mainstream preacher John Piper said, “farewell Rob Bell” in response to the book and its message. (I’m not sure if he even cared to understand what the message really was). I am a little over half-way done with the book and I highly recommend it! I agree with most of the content (so far) but that’s not really what matters. What DOES matter is that Rob Bell is asking the right questions. He challenges the traditional and widely excepted views of heaven, hell, God’s judgment, wrath and love, who’s “in” and who’s “out”, and the lens through which we view the whole Bible, topics which have turned many off from the message of Christ throughout the centuries. He challenges the reader to take an honest, unbiased look at what the Bible (not church tradition) really teaches about these tough and controversial issues. So anyways, if you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to pick up a copy and see what all the fuss is about.
You are probably wondering what any of this has to do with the topic of this post. While reading the book I came across a short passage that got me to thinking. And THAT is the real topic of this post. Here’s the quote from Love Wins:
”When People use the word “Jesus,” then, it’s important for us to ask who they’re talking about.
Are they referring to a token of tribal membership, a tamed, domesticated Jesus who waves the flag and promotes whatever values they have decided their nation needs to return to?
Are they referring to the supposed source of the imperial impulse of their group, which wants to conquer other groups “in the name of Jesus”?
Are they referring to the logo or slogan of their political, economic, or military system through which they sanctify their greed and lust for power?
Or are they referring to the very life source of the universe who has walked among us and continues to sustain everything with his love and power and grace and energy?
Jesus is both near and intimate and personal, and big and wide and transcendent.”
Thus the question: which Jesus?
Which Jesus are you following? How about your church? Also, which Jesus are you portraying to others, preaching and teaching about? I think these are important questions to ask.
Is it the Jesus who: “promotes whatever values you have decided your nation needs to return to” (paraphrase from Rob’s quote) , supports justified war and violence as a means to the end, the worldly justice system , believes that “America is the hope of the world”, speaks against the gay and lesbian community above and beyond the much more mentioned sins of lust and pride greed and self-righteousness, sees nothing wrong with our western-materialistic-selfish culture, and separates ourselves from those who are not “in” the holy group of Christianity ?
Or, is it the Jesus who: instead of saving the world through legislation, came to earth in a manger and served, died and loved those who opposed Him along the way. How about the Jesus who taught us to “love our enemies, do good to those that hurt you, turn the other cheek, and to NOT RESIST EVIL , the Jesus who ushered in the restorative-justice, peacemaking, grace and love centered kingdom, the Jesus who taught that He ALONE was the hope of the world, THE way, THE truth, and THE life. How about the Jesus who instead of kicking the sinners out, accepted, ate and drank with, loved, befriended, served and forgave. What about the Jesus who said, “do not worry about tomorrow” and “give to those who ask” and “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” and “go, sell all you have and give it to the poor” and “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.
So, the question I ask you is this: which Jesus? Why is it so important that we get Jesus right? The author of the book of Hebrews says this:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
So, Jesus is the exact representation of who God is. Nothing and no one before or after will ever show what and who God is better than Jesus. The buck stops with Jesus. How we view God: his character, purpose, will, everything about him is summed up in the person of Jesus. You see, if we get Jesus wrong, we get everything wrong! I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the topic of God, what he wants, expects, thinks, and commands of me, I want to get that one right. I don’t want to just take someone else’s word. I don’t want to just blindly accept the traditions of those who have come before me. I’m going to look at and study Jesus. What Jesus said and did, how he reacted to others, how he loved, what he commanded, what he expects, that’s what is important.
I’ll end with yet another question. Which Jesus are you following and what is your primary resource for learning about Him?