THE CONTINUING AVERSION
TO ALL THINGS JESUS
Col.1: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
What does the phrase “all things” mean? And what does the word “preeminence” mean? What does the word “head” mean? What does the phrase “before all things” mean? What does the phrase “all Fullness” mean? These words and phrases have one core element in common. They all speak about Jesus. Jesus, Joshua, Yeshua, must have all the preeminence in everything we do, think, say, and He must be the motivation and power in and for and through our very lives. Think about that and then give an honest assessment of that truth as it applies to our lives and as it applies to what passes as the church today.
Wait a minute. What am I suggesting? I contend that the church no longer follows Jesus or is in fact really interested in Jesus much at all. The cross has become a relic, a talisman that hopefully leads to heaven, but as far as a primal element in our lives, that would be more than a stretch. The resurrection is a doctrinal story with very little relevance in these western lifestyles. The Scriptures are a great resource for sermons and plaques but are not the driving force of our beings. We have succumbed to the spirit of the age and in so doing we have treated Jesus with an aversion and with scorn.
Oh we have not openly expressed this aversion, but with our thoughts, words, and deeds we have denied Him openly. All of us. Some of us have heard the voice of the Spirit and have changed course and are on a journey back to Jesus, but make no mistake we have wandered far away and the journey back is glorious and painful as well. On this journey repentance is commonplace and the more we travel the more we battle self righteousness. Yes, this journey back cannot be traversed with a cross.
So what does a church with the Lord Jesus as its heart and soul look like? That is a haunting question if given the proper depth of consideration. But isn’t that the relevant and crucial question? Isn’t the church, both local and universal, supposed to be a reflection of the person and teachings of Jesus? In fact, are we not supposed to be the tangible presence of Christ to the world? And therein lies a great mystery, however when Jesus is not the center of our lives then the mystery is removed and all you have is another religion. What words and what emotions can I use to convey just how dire the situation has become? This is no longer just a call for the church to get revived. This is now a call for God’s true church to be resurrected and have the faith that follows and believes Jesus to reemerge. As long as we believe we are partially on the path of Jesus we will continue to journey further and further away from Him. The predictable and redundant expression of Christ’s church is an affront to all that Jesus lived and taught. And as long as we attempt to embrace Jesus along with politics, nationalism, and capitalism, well, we will only embrace politics, nationalism, and capitalism. And with an astounding exhibition of spiritual blindness, people with a myriad of compromises and Biblical departures feel a sense of contentment.
There are a growing number of “take back America” crusades and conferences led by a myriad of leaders and preachers who have no idea that they are actually a hindrance to the gospel. People assuming a warrior spirit rather than a humble and unassuming spirit which is anointed with a power not of this world. Preachers are enamored with their own preaching; churches are enamored with their buildings; churches are enamored with their praise and worship; and all in all professing believers love what they do and lift up themselves rather than Jesus. The things that Jesus said and did, and the attitudes He exhibited are completely counter to what has been concocted here in America. How can it be that we have read the gospels and yet can really suggest we are acting like Jesus? It is preposterous.
I am not able to reconcile many things about God, I just have to receive them by faith because of what I do know. God creates everything with full knowledge of what will happen. His prized creation, created in His image, will openly reject Him. And in the following millenniums many, many more will reject Him than those who will embrace Him. And God knew that those who would reject Him would be separated from Him for all eternity. But we so often image God has some unfeeling force who stands aloof and pulls all kinds of switches to get what he desires.
But God came to redeem whoever believed upon Him, however in that open revelation He also showed us who he is and always has been. In the Person of Christ, the Invisible God became visible. He walked in the likeness of sinful flesh. He suffered the indignities of wicked men. He spoke like no man ever spoke. His incarnation was, as Paul said, a mystery. That God who is a spirit could be born as a man is one of the great mysteries of the Godhead.
But gone is the mystery. Gone are the lives so remarkable and so radical that they generate at least some curiosity. A range of issues take the spotlight while Jesus is muscled out in favor of labels like conservative, orthodox, evangelical, and religious right. We now have an aversion to Jesus, the true Jesus, as it pertains to following and emulating Him. He is now little more than a moral monster who roams the west seeking to help create a more acceptable cultural climate which is approved by politically active evangelicals. And the sinners for which He died have now become the enemy. The church battles them and their agendas while ignoring their eternal souls. And that scenario reveals an aversion and actually a repulsion to Jesus and His gospel.
But if we desire to follow Jesus, just how far must we go? I mean must we tolerate sin? Should we embrace those who openly promote and practice things that are against Biblical morality? Why was Jesus criticized? Because He ate and fellowshipped with know sinners. No one could accuse us of that today! Why do we use the word redemption if we refuse to live it? The church has become a moral fortress whose mission is to change people through words and legislative laws and voting blocks. Again, Jesus has become an embarrassment to the church except when He remains neatly tucked away in our statements of faith.
No sooner does the preacher proclaim that Jesus is the Savior of the world then he turns around and organizes people to confront those who need Him. Confront them not with Jesus, but with some issue-du-jour.
That, my friends, is not Jesus. That is a religious system which exhibits an aversion to Him that is True and Faithful. And until we take a life changing trip to the cross and die, we will live unto ourselves with His name stenciled in lightly.