Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Children of a Lesser Christ

There He writhes, surely in inestimable physical pain, but in infinitely more unsearchable spiritual pain and suffering for the sins of all mankind. Who can enter into that realm? Who among us can grasp the enormity of such an event, and even the partial understanding given to us renders us weak with gratefulness and worship. Only the redeemed can comprehend the spiritual implications of His death, and only a sinner enlightened by God’s Spirit can believe that event carries any sort of redemption for them personally. Only the Spirit of God can shine a divine light upon a narrative that looks on the surface like a Jew, dying on a cross, and by that light reveal something of a far greater mystery that has eternal implications for us all.

Men look into the expanse of a star filled night and find a profound wonder concerning the creation, and most find it unimaginable to be asked to believe that dead Jew was the Creator of all of it. How could such weakness be the open revelation of the Great God of the Universe? Yet there He is, draped in a crimson robe of His own blood, and gasping His very last breath. The reasoning of man not only doubts it, he rejects it with confidence. This figure impaled upon two Roman crosses cannot be anything more than another sinful Jew receiving the punishment for His own transgressions. This is nothing more than spiritual superstition.

But just as the invisible wind showcases its power by its influence over that which it targets, so will the power of this event be revealed through those who receive and acquiesce to its life changing power. A few weeks after this punishment was meted out, many thousands of people, the same ones who looked into that night’s sky, will be transformed into followers of the man who died on that day. Only they will no longer view him as just another dead Jew, no, they now realize He has risen from the dead, and He is the Lord God of Heaven and Savior of their souls. They have been captured by God’s Spirit, internally changed, and they will never be the same. They now walk in a strange land which they once called home but now is just a path to walk and a temporary place of sojourning.

These believers have gladly entered a personal journey to learn of Christ and follow in His footsteps, but always looking to and delving deeper into that cross and empty tomb. The paradox of all who believe in Jesus is that all the deepest and most profound aspects of His life and Person are found in that cross and in that empty tomb. That week of passion is the foundation that not only begins the journey; it is the place where the building blocks for future understanding must be hewn. The newborn Christian chicks do not fly away to build their nests elsewhere, instead they bring any additional twigs and food back to that same nest. The tree of Golgotha houses all true nests, and that tree itself gives and sustains all life that flies to its redemptive canopy.

This is the Christ we embrace and follow and this is our faith. We must not entertain the new constructs of men who suggest our faith is found elsewhere, regardless of how noble the cause. One small step away from Calvary is one giant step toward heresy. And when we move Christ and His bloody redemption away from the very core of our teaching, we do despite to the gospel itself and in fact we present a lesser Christ, a Christ that conforms to the philosophies of men and not the Christ whose brightness destroys the philosophies of men. Anything substantively new is most assuredly not true. Only a new and fresher well that is dug deep into the knowledge of Christ that begins and ends with redemption can be considered new revelations of established gospel truth.

And so in today’s exhilarating genre of Christian thought and teaching we have so many who follow a lesser Christ. Some follow the prosperity Christ, others follow the ceremonial Christ, others follow the philanthropist Christ, some love the abortion crusading Christ, others follow the gay hating Christ, and still others follow the American Christ. These are lesser Christ’s and in a real way they are other Christ’s. Gone is the tearful brokenness produced by a deep gratefulness for the cross. Gone is the spiritual contentment that comes from meditating upon that bleeding form, replace by the philosophies of men which excite the flesh and divert the worship from the Eternal One suffering in intense agony over our very sins. The lesser Christ carries no wounds and bids us to change the world through caring for the needs of others with the bloodless offerings of Cain.

We live in an ecclesiastical atmosphere with so many paths to God and so many different representations of the gospel that it is impossible to identify those who are washed in Christ’s blood and those who earnestly follow a noble Christ with high morals, compassion for the poor, but lacking the imperative crown of redemption found only and continually at Golgotha. Some even follow a crass and reckless Christ who was indistinguishable from the sinners with whom He ate. But the true Christ is exalted in His death and all other truths flow to and flow from that same sacrifice. To speak less of the cross is to diminish Christ, and to avoid or even deny the substitutionary element of its power is to deny it altogether.

I can never assess the limits of God’s grace, and I can never pronounce knowledge of any person’s standing before God.
However I can say with certainty that many today are the children of a lesser Christ.

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