I’ve seen and heard some statements about Jesus lately that struck me as rather odd. Some were relating to how Christians have stolen Jesus and twisted his words and teachings – this is certainly true in some cases. As well, many try to create their own Jesus. That is, they like his teachings on love and compassion, but the sin, Satan, and King Jesus stuff is all nonsense. It’s a designer Jesus if you will. So who owns Jesus? Who is the authoritative voice?
If we ask who knows and understands the teachings of Jesus best, as well as his ancient roots and story line, the Church (the moderate church), likely ranks number one here. However, any knowledgeable Christian will be quick to remind us that it is Jesus’ church – Jesus is building it (his Kingdom) – despite all the inadequacies of his followers. Jesus is boss.
On a personal level, many Christians may have the mind set that “we have Jesus,” and thus we have the Truth – capital T. However, while Jesus is indeed God in the flesh (Ultimate Reality – Truth), the idea of “having” him forgets the fact that Jesus has us. Jesus calls us to follow him. He calls us to die to ourselves, to put our agenda aside, and live for God. Any one who knows Jesus, knows that Jesus has them. Jesus is boss.
A quote from Bishop John Shelby Spong, who, admittedly, I know little about, struck me as odd. He writes:
“God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”
Now, Spong bears a Christian title, wears a cross, and religious garb, but how can he say his tradition (Christianity), does not define God? How can he not have an ultimate answer for ultimate reality? Jesus, the center piece of Christianity, God in the flesh, quite literally defines and expresses God. One may not like it or agree – but that’s the tradition. Spong is correct in saying that God is not a Christian, Muslim…etc, but how does he “honor his tradition” without a clear definition of God?
In another quote, Spong writes:
“The church is like a swimming pool. Most of the noise comes from the shallow end.”
This is great! Love it! And there are plenty of folks splashing around, creating division and hatred, and who lack an understanding and a relationship with the risen Christ. I like that he is open to challenging tradition and trying news things, as the video below suggests, but I have to wonder if his openness leaves the Son of God behind, or if he’s plumbed the depths of Jesus himself. I don’t say this sarcastically, but out of genuine inquisitiveness.
What I do know is that we live in a society that hates religious exclusivity. No one likes to be left out of the reindeer games. The Good News, though, is if Jesus is who he says he is (God – three in one), there is no exclusivity – He owns us all, and we’re to follow – no matter what.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson