It is the deconstructive work that is painful because we have learned to emotionally invest , not in Jesus, but in our theology. A good test to determine whether Jesus or our theology takes precedence is to discern the degree to which we are willing to unlearn something and learn something new about Him. Michael Hardin
Ooh that one hits home. The truth is our theology is never perfect, but are we actually open to having it be changed by God? Are we actually willing to unlearn something, to learn something new?
As I look back on my life as a Christian, pastor, and theology-nerd the amount of stuff that’s changed is dramatic. The question though isn’t how have I changed, but am I willing to continue to be changed by the prompting of God’s Spirit and Truth? Because one thing is for sure, I don’t have it all perfectly together. And I need to invest in Jesus, not in my theological thoughts about Jesus. And the difference between those two things can sometimes be wider than we think.
But what about you? How have you changed and grown in depth with Jesus? How has your theology changed? How is it changing?
Because one thing is sure, we all need to become more like Jesus and that process involves change and it never ends. May we be open to that process and to the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit to conform us more and more into the likeness of Christ.
On Sunday we began with a cartoon. And with me there is a chance that its either Calvin and Hobbes, or The Farside (which I spent more hours reading in high school than…well probably any other book).
And Gary Larson has this great cartoon that looks like this. And here was my question for Sunday – how do we know God isn’t like this? Why is this funny? Why do we laugh – knowing its not like God has a smite button? How do we know that?
Because for many years, many people had this view of God. That if you step out of line, smiting, cursing, or punishment is on its way. If you’re crops failed, its because of that sin. If you get sick, its punishment and God smiting you. So how do you know that God isn’t like this?
Well the quick and easy, and true answer is this, because Jesus isn’t.
Jesus perfectly reveals God. Jesus is entrance into understanding God. God is Jesusy. The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that God is Jesusy (Hebrews 1; John 1:18; and others). And here is why this matters because:
If you’re God doesn’t look like Jesus, you have the wrong picture of God.
And there isn’t any other way around this. Gary Larson’s wrong, God isn’t like that, because Jesus isn’t like that.
And yes this surely brings up tensions, there are difficult parts to reconcile then in the Bible. But the point is this: we cannot compromise on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, no matter what else we do. We will need to use care in exegeting some of the Hebrew Bible in light of Jesus, but we cannot compromise the revelation of God in Jesus.
With this understanding that Jesus reveals God, we got to know Jesu a bit better. We began by looking at the divinity of Jesus.
The divinity of Jesus was actually something that was debated for a while in early Christianity. Yet there are some clear indications that Jesus is fully God, as we attest and believe, in Scripture. We looked at the sinlessness of Jesus, we looked at how he forgave sins (something only God can do), and how he accepts worship. But by far the biggest thing that testifies to his divinity, is how he was resurrected from the dead by God. God through resurrecting his son, validates all his claims about whom he is (Rom 1:14).
We then looked at the humanity of Jesus. Now this is something that was clear to the early Christians, but that we struggle more with today. We like to think of Jesus as Superman. That he dresses up in humanity, like Clark Kent, but pulls out his superpowers to do miracles and so on. But this isn’t the picture the gospels paint – Jesus was fully human and Jesus is fully human.
Michael Bird writes this, “The fact the that the Logos was able to take on human form suggest that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive modes of being…The incarnation is not simply God assuming human form, as if human flesh were a mask over his real nature. Rather, the incarnation is God as a human being and complexly sharing in human properties. The incarnation shows us what God intended humanity to be and what it finally will be” (Evangelical Systematic Theology)
So with that we came to our main point for Sunday. And it was this:
That Christ is the Key
Jesus is the key for everything. He is the key for understanding God. He is also the key for understanding humanity and what it means to be human. Jesus is the key to everything. If you want to know God, if you want to know yourself – look to Jesus. So that was our challenge for Sunday – go home and read the gospels. Because the more you get to know him the clearer God becomes, and how to live life becomes clearer too.
Big Idea: Christ is the key
The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
Jesus perfectly reveals God.
The lens we interpret the Bible through is Jesus.
We can’t give up on the centre of our faith and compromise that Jesus reveals God
Reasons for Divinity of Christ: Miracles, Forgives Sin, Sinless, Accepts Worship, and Was Resurrected.
Jesus was and is human.
Incarnation when Jesus enters the world isn’t for a moment, but for eternity.
Christ is the Key
If you want to be certain about God, get close to Jesus.
Read the gospels
Our comfort does not lie in the fact that we have pure doctrine or pure revelation. Our comfort does not lie in intellectual or spiritual certainty. Our comfort does not lie in the belief that we have grasped Jesus. Our comfort and only hope is that He has grasped us, called us, named us and chosen us, all of us, and that He alone is our hope. Michael Hardin
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever thought of God as Jesusy? Is there anything in your picture of God, that isn’t “Jesusy”? How does having Jesus as the perfect revelation, give clarity to who God is? Which do you find easier to believe in: the humanity or divinity of Jesus? Why is that? Which of the gospels are you going to read?
Discussion Questions for Young Families
Ask your kids what God is like. Ask them what other people think God is like. Then share with them the most important thing – what Jesus says God is like! Have them think about how Jesus reveals God. Ask them, what is Jesus like? And then tell them that’s what God is like.
On Sunday we are going to be continuing in our series looking at Theology 101. We are going to be discussing a key, or they key central tenet of Christianity: Jesus Christ. This is called Christology, and we’ll be exploring the humanity, divinity, and most of all the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The revelation of Jesus is so key to our current culture. Currently there are lots of views floating around our culture about what God is like: a grandfather, non-existent, passé, an angry vengeful warrior, someone intensely interested in personal morality, or lots of things. The God I’m interested is none of these. The God I’m interested in is the one that Christ reveals, that Christ shares, and the one that Jesus says looks like him.
And that’s what we are going to be looking at, but before we get there I have a question for you. As you think about God, and what he’s like, here’s my question – does he look like Jesus? And if he doesn’t maybe there are some changes to be made.