Jesus is the thing

In school I’m taking a course, “Interpreting Scripture.” To those who like the big words: Hermeneutics. We are learning that interpretation is not just a personal thing (perspectivalism) but a rational and fairly objective process. It’s not that perspective doesn’t enter in, it is that we strive to not let that happen. We attempt to manage our perspectives so that they don’t interfere with understanding the author’s intent. We do that through a process that helps that happen. The process is called, “hermeneutics.”

OK, all that aside, we are using a section of scripture to practice on. It is the book of Colossians. Doing either a casual read of the book or analyzing it deeply you come up with a pretty clear picture that the main theme of this letter that Paul wrote to the Colossian church is something like: “The Supremacy of Christ.” A direct statement of this theme is Colossians 3:11 – “… but Christ is all, ....” For Paul, The Main Thing he wanted to make sure the Christians in Colossae got was that Christ is All.

We Christians today don’t get that. We are a bit fuzzy on whether Christ is The Deal or not. Over a year ago I was challenged by David Byrant to listen to sermons and “worship songs” and count how many times we actually talk about Jesus, Christ, Lord Jesus, or any combination of those words. We as Evangelical Protestants are, these days, all about a kind of generic monotheistic religion. We like to talk about “God,” “The Lord,” and the like. But we don’t talk that much about “Jesus.” Why is that?

I think it’s because we’ve forgotten that Christianity is about Christ. We talk much about God – but that doesn’t distinguish us from Jews or Muslims. Christians believe in Jesus. Christians love and worship Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus is worthy of worship in exactly the same way that we would worship creator God because we believe that Jesus IS creator God. I won’t get into the theology of that – save that for another post. But my point is that the Christian church has to be about Christ or it really is not Christian.

As a Christian, I invite you to an experiment. At church, walk up to a friend and ask them, “So what has Jesus been teaching you this week?” For most Evangelical, Bible-believing, born-again “Christians,” this will seem to be a kind of weird question to ask in a church lobby. But what is really weird is that it would be a weird question. Of all people, we ought to be able to talk "Jesus" to each other. As supposed fully-devoted-followers of Christ we should be able to talk about Christ with each other.Why are we reluctant to talk "Jesus?" Maybe because it hasn’t been modeled well by our spiritual leaders. Maybe because our theology is more impoverished than we thought and we don’t understand the supremacy of Christ (read Colossians!). Maybe because we are more comfortable with our vague generic monotheism than real Christ-ianity.

This much I do know: if we can’t talk about Jesus with each other then we certainly can’t talk about Jesus to those who don’t yet know him. If we aren’t comfortable talking about Jesus to Christians, how can we expect to talk about Jesus to seekers?

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