When preaching about the 2nd commandment I stated that one of the biggest idols of the church is our Jesus vs the Jesus of the Bible. If Jesus looks and thinks exactly like us, chances are pretty good he is not the Jesus of the Bible. Between memes of ‘Jesus had issues with religious people’ to other ‘That’s not my Jesus’ posts, we seem to have lost the real Jesus. I watched an excellent video discussion by HonestYouthPastor (watch it here) that unpacked one of these well. Between the video discussion and others, there is a broader issue at play that we need to address: Jesus is Lord, not just a big brother.
If we confess…
Romans 10:9, addressing how to accept Christ, starts off by saying “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…” This aspect of being a Christian alters our life because now the authority in our life is Christ. Everyone will one day recognize that Jesus Lord to the glory of the Father. Why is the point important? Because Jesus is part of the trinity and the trinity is one. The words in black come from the same source as the words in red, the work of the Spirit. Yet Jesus is also called the Word, a perfect representation of the Father. On Earth the Trinity chooses to put Jesus in charge, fully. In our appreciation of Jesus being like us and being tempted in every way as we are, we cannot forget that Jesus is still God and in charge.
God opposes the proud
We too often read the Bible wrong. We view ourselves as morally superior to the people in the Bible, especially the Pharisees, or other straw men we create, such as the marxist notion of the rich. We champion the disadvantaged or lowly aspects of Jesus, but forget it was only 1 out of 10 who turned back and said thank you. Reality is you and I would most likely be the 9 out of 10 who took Jesus for granted. We would be in the crowd yelling crucify Him, or at the best running away and denying Jesus like 11 out of 12 disciples. For sure, we would be Adam and Eve doing the very thing God told us not to do. Our making Jesus into an idol is a façade for our spiritual arrogance.
God raised Him from the dead
The second part of Romans 10:9 is that God raised Jesus from the dead. It was a work of God. The New Covenant described in Ezekiel and Jeremiah is a direct work of God. The restoration of Israel after their fall, predicted by both the Mosaic and Davidic covenants, is a direct work of God. In over-emphasizing the humanity of Jesus we lose the majesty of His divinity, the Father’s power, and the comfort of the Spirit. For Jesus saves and heals the rich and the poor, the blessed and the suffering. Christ is the great equalizer because we all fall short of His glory, but He still chose to save us. We read the Bible wrong when God is not the Hero.
Reality over empathy
In our focus and admiration of empathy, we tend to lose touch with reality. This is not to say empathy is a negative or to be avoided, only that we should not separate it from reality. Empathy over reality seems to really be moral superiority or crowd pleasing. It’s the shouting “here comes the king” on Palm Sunday to only days later be yelling “Crucify Him!” We do this when Jesus is the stories we like divorced from the rest of the Bible. The reality of the empty tomb is that God exist and that Jesus will be back, as witnessed by over 500 witnesses at one time. We better pay attention and teach people to observe all that he commanded, not just the parts that play to our concept of empathy.