Saturday, July 27, 2013

Christianity is Jesus


I do not pretend to be the protector of the Holy Grail. In fact, I do not pretend to be anything. But to summarize what has been a great and thought provoking series about “What is Christianity” I believe it can and should be defined by one word. That word is “Jesus”. Yes, Christianity is Jesus. The true and living and Risen Jesus. I realize that many people and denominations have made their own Jesus by giving Him traits which He does not have or removing some that He surely does. And true to form man has constructed a religion from what should be a pursuit to follow and love Jesus.

I am not attempting to be coy or nebulous. But if Christianity is not Jesus in every facet then it is not Christianity. I have used the word “system” and it is surely not a system. It is a deep and profound relationship between a Redeemer and His redeemed; between a Master and His servants; between a God and His children; between a Lord and His subjects. And although I use some metaphors and similes this relationship goes much deeper than human words can adequately describe. Anyone who has been redeemed and come to know and experience the life giving glory of the Redeemer is often hard pressed to express in words the essence of this amazing relationship.

Have you ever wept during a time of worship or even while listening to an inspiring testimony from another believer? And have others wondered why you are crying or overwhelmed by emotion? And if that other person does not know Jesus what can you actually communicate to him that can allow him to enter into the sacred presence only the redeemed can know? You see, the word “Christianity” seems to strip what we have in Jesus of its rightful glory just because it has been created to define a religious sect. What we have in Jesus is a living, breathing, and powerful mystery which continues to unravel itself within our hearts and lives. Even the Apostle Paul who saw the glory of the Risen Christ said “That I may know Him…”. Doctrine may be helpful but unless it aids us in knowing Jesus than it is no better than some Biblical Dewey Decimal system.  

Men love their doctrines. They love their local churches. They love their denominations. But those only dilute their love for Jesus. Jesus must have all the preeminence in everything. Think about that. If we knew who Jesus is in all His fullness and if we gave Him the preeminence in every area of our lives would not the world begin to see Him and not us? That would bring such glory to our Blessed Redeemer! But somewhere along the line the church has become distracted and even derailed. Instead of being known for Jesus we are known for our moral convictions or our denomination or our pastor or our doctrinal persuasions or our buildings or a host of other things. If we are not known for Jesus than we are frauds.

Gal.2:20 -  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Oh the treasure that can be found in that one statement! We are not living our lives for Him; we are living His life for Him! That is not a play on words but that is the difference between being a follower of Jesus and being a part of Christianity. There is a world, and I do mean a world, of difference between the two. We must reckon ourselves dead and we as new creations are alive in Him. That is Christianity according to the New Testament. Everything else is little more than some religious system which uses the name of Jesus without the power of Jesus. And without His power that is no Jesus at all.

Rev.2: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

There it is. Unless we have a soul searching return to Jesus with an abundance of repentance than we will continue to be a part of the broader landscape called Christianity but we will be walking a path of our own and not His. Jesus must be our life not just our orthodoxy.


Anonymous said...

There's the answer! Amen.


Anonymous said...

A thought this Sunday morning. Devoting one's life to Jesus, is a very very lonely life, especially today, here. Maybe abroad, there are christians who are supportive of one another and know how to grow a thick skin, through hardships, and can truly get along. But "getting along" in the West, especially with christians, is almost impossible.

It takes me a long time to figure things out, but God is so patient with me, praise His Name. And I know He's patient with others too, praise His Name. I still have much to sort through, I am not arrived.

I don't think we can survive in this climate unless we are totally honest with ourselves. I can't preach or teach to anyone because I live here. If I were to leave the comforts and the system, and go where needed, THEN, and only then, would I be effective. I know the bible says all men can be saved, and rich men can be saved, but it's the rich men that will have a much harder time to teach others, and show by example. If their physical comforts and intellectual and emotional and psychological comforts are all cared for, how can they stand on a podium and preach down to others? And how can the church then go out and expect to have any effect on those completely absorbed in Satan's Babylonian systems. It's come to a point where we might not be able to penetrate through his territory. Unless we're willing to stand firm and lose everything, and be a target of the principalities of the air, in my honest opinion, we can't budge or evangelize anymore. Unless the Lord sends another revival of His Spirit (and it would be only because of His mercy and love, not our works). Maybe we can reach individually, thank God, but, as a 'church' a body, we are no longer effective.

I read and hear people say, and I agree, we are living like the times of Lot. Brothers and sisters, please pray for me, because I don't think I can survive living in today's Sodom. Strife, contention, narcissism, extremism, hate, bitterness, it's so overwhelming that it's almost not possible to live in the midst of it. I would rather do missions in my last years now and go abroad and be with the lowly and cast down and tell them about Jesus. It wouldn't be easy on these old bones, but what we live in now is not easy either.

Christianity IS all about Jesus. But, where would Jesus send us today? The gospel has all but been served on a platter to our society. We've preached every which way possible and now, some in the churches have become thieves and wolves. Slander, mocking, territorial, trouble-makers, intellectual opinionators, talk and blabber and discussion until our energies are wasted on zero.

I know there are still effective pastors out there. But we have every opportunity to buy bibles and more bibles and most can read, and if the Word still doesn't change hearts, and they're demonstratably over-reactive, and insulted and contentious in an anonymous-style christian discussion, we aren't ready to walk the walk. We're still at talk the talk range.


Anonymous said...

I want you to read just a few words and take a moment to consider them.

Consider, Christian, that Christ came from his Father’s side, where he had existed eternally, to this world of sorrow and death; that God himself was manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he who was clothed with glory would now be clothed with mortal flesh; he who filled heaven and earth with his glory would be cradled in a manger; that the almighty God would flee from weak man—the God of Israel escaping into Egypt; that the God of the law would become subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God who made the heavens and earth laboring with Joseph as a small-town carpenter.

Consider that the one who binds the devils in chains would be tempted by Satan; that he, who owns the world, and everything in it, would hunger and thirst; that the God of strength would be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father would cry out of misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”; that he who holds the keys of hell and death would lie dead in a borrowed tomb, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, and having after death nowhere to lay his body.

Consider that this head, before which the angels cast down their crowns, would be crowned with thorns, and those eyes, purer than the sun, would be extinguished by the darkness of death; those ears, which had heard nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, would hear the blasphemies of the multitude; that face, which had eternally looked upon the Father, would be spit on by those who opposed him; that mouth which spoke as no man spoke before or since would be accused of blasphemy; those hands, which held the very scepter of heaven, would be nailed to the cross; those feet, “like burnished bronze," would be nailed to the cross for man’s sins.

Consider that he would feel the agony of the spear and nails; he would smell the stench of the place of the skull; he would taste the vinegar and gall; he would hear the mocking and reproaches; he would see his mother and disciples mourning him; and all the while his soul would be without comfort, forsaken by man and God.

This was the cost of your sin.

written by:
Tim Challies

of which I Am Not Ashamed.

Rick Frueh said...

True, moving, and indicting words, Tim.

Anonymous said...

Jackie, you are already uplifting the lowly and downcast. You are already on mission. When we get older it is wisest, in my opinion, to hold onto some comfort. This is no time for you to go bush walking!

My advice to you Jackie is to contact a mission whose work enthuses you and support them by sharing your love of Christ and writing with them. Truly they need encouragement daily.

Be gentle on your "old bones'. I do know that God's word is good for old bones. Enjoy a special treat from

Enjoy your Word for Today treat! It makes much more sense to me than climbing Mount Everest or wading through the Amazon in high heels.

This way you will stay out of reach of hungry crocodiles and close to Christ!!!

Reine Gnade

Anonymous said...

Colosians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
: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;
:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

As it says in the last part of verse 18 Jesus is to have preeminence in our lives, preeminence in all that we do or say, that would then be true Christianity. It is definitely not a belief system, but it is a way of life, a way to life ever-lasting. I am not educated enough to be able to put into words what it is that I understand about being a born again believer in Jesus Christ. “John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

My life should reflect Jesus. Because it is all about Jesus, nothing else matters.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Reine for a sound kind words of advice.

I can't be a christian Crocodile Dundee at this point in my life. LOL


Annette said...

Thank-You once again Pastor Rick for another thought provoking entry/series that makes one take a step back, analyzing our own lives to see if we are in the true faith of Jesus Christ....alone. There are times when these entries cut at the heart of the human condition and one cannot help but weep for all of humanity.

And Mr. Challies, thank-you for that reminder of a life once lost, now saved only through our Glorious Savior, our LORD Jesus Christ. Your entry immediately called to mind the powerful Scriptures found in Romans 5:8-10
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."

Annette said...

Upon arriving home from a family vacation and reading these blogs and all of the conversation following, I cannot help but Praise our Living God and giving Him all the Glory, as I am overwhelmed with encouragement from His Body.

And after listening to some "gut wrenching" stories from complete strangers on this trip (as it is always a joy to meet new people, and since I loathe the shallowness of small talk, there is far more fellowship found in the deep matters of life, thus blazing new trails to share the saving mercy and grace of our Savior Jesus Christ.)

And for today, there is hope.....


....hope for that Vietnam vet, when asked if he grew closer to the LORD while battling in the killing fields of a wayward nation...and his response was, "After doing what I did, and seeing my buddies hanging from trees, I decided I didn't need God and that I could go it on my own."

.....hope for that drunk woman, sitting on top of the picnic table outside the bar, heckling my family as we filled gas in our four wheelers and the others joining in, sneering and jeering when they did not get a reaction from our presence. And when the drunkard, who is in fact, a lovely middle aged lady, laughed at me and slurring said "Hey, why are you wearing a sweatshirt? It's nice out here! One could only stop, look her in the eye and lovingly respond, "I had a scare with cancer last year, so I need to cover up as much as possible because I don't want to go through that again. And you know what, God is so merciful and gracious that He spared me from cancer this time around." To which the woman, remorsefully said, "Oh, I am really sorry, no really, I am sorry, I conpletely understand."
In her repentance, she became friendly and more understanding...and the others sitting at picnic tables surrounding her, listening intently to our interaction, were stripped of their jabs, and gave a friendly wave as we departed.

....hope for that middle aged man taking care of the campgrounds, who has suffered greatly in his life thus far....who experienced a near death accident, having been cut out of his vehicle and in the hospital for six months; whose wife left him after their first son was born, who entered rehab while addicted to drugs...............who, in his broken state, knew that Jesus Christ is the only answer to a greater life eternal. His hope is now found in Christ alone. Praise Him. (This man's favorite book in our Bible is Job.)

And for today, recognizing that Jesus was a carpenter in the flesh, using tools of the trade to fasion believers in Him, we know that prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have in our toolbox of faith. At the foot of the cross, it is a joy and an honor to pray for strangers, yet companions with a soul, while there is still hope to turn to Jesus.

Jesus is our Rock.