Reading and reflecting on the Christmas story I can’t help feeling that some Christians/the Church doesn’t exactly know what to believe about Jesus.
It seems to me that many Christians have an inbetween Jesus, neither fully God or fully man. An anaemic, insipid, pale reflection of the Jesus of the Bible – a Jesus who would never disturb anybody let alone draw forth worship and obedience.
It seems that we struggle with the idea of Jesus coming into this world and into this stuff called flesh, let alone frail flesh. Paul says “flesh just like ours under sin’s domain.” (Romans 8:3 HCSB) – we need to avoid the theological manoevering that frequently goes on here, i.e. it was only ‘like’ ours. If that is so we are in trouble with what Paul says in Philippians 2:7, “taking on the likeness of men.” When we fall into that trap we end up building doctrines to protect him (e.g. the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception).
If this is the case it is not surprising that we fail to understand how he can sympathise with us in all of our temptations/weaknesses in such a way as to help us, and if we struggle with this how are we ever really going to cope with Jesus taking our sin and bearing it on the cross? “He made the One who did not know no sin to be sin for us.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). What a staggering truth!
On the other hand we struggle with his Divinity, after all if he really was, and is, God the Son, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, why do we struggle to take his word seriously – to live under his lordship? We cannot simply see Jesus as our Saviour, he is also our Lord. He has bought us. We are His.
A New Vision of Jesus
It seems that we need to radically reflect on just who Jesus was and is, to remove him from the stained glass windows and the niceities of western middleclass suburban Christianity. To get rid of the sentimentalised convenient Christ of the manger and of so much deadening modern religion. To get back to our Bibles and let the text speak to us in all it’s plainness, and let the real Jesus come forth into our lives and into our churches.
The Challenge of Jesus
It was the challenge of Jesus himself, “Who do you say I am?” Our answer to that question will impact the type of Christian lives we live and the churches we build.