Jesus at the Center
Christianity is about Christ. It is not about the thoughts or preferences of the Christian. Why then does it seem as if so many of us Christians have digressed from Jesus' teaching and works and have become most concerned with things like arguing interpretations of scripture, debating theological ideas, or critiquing expressions of worship uncharacteristic of one's faith tradition? This is not to say that such activity is unnecessary. Having conversations about such things is beneficial to growth and discipleship and it enables one to learn and appreciate another’s beliefs and practices, while possibly strengthening his or her own. However, when one becomes fixated on those conversations he or she overlooks what is far more important to the Christian faith—Jesus Christ, His teachings, and His works that gave humanity the ability to restore its relationship with the Father. It is an issue of balance. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I guess this imbalance has a lot to do with the spread of individualism, a philosophy that has generally been attributed to Western culture, but is now evident worldwide. I believe individualism is important. God created us to be unique individuals with varying gifts and abilities; however, we should not forget that those distinct gifts are given to us so that we may come together to form the body of Christ and carry on the work that He started (see Ephesians 4). We are to abandon our personal preferences and agendas and take on the mind of Christ. Fairly straightforward, right? I think so, but this led me to ask another question: Do we really, truly know and recognize who Jesus was? If we don’t, how can we adopt Jesus’ way of thinking and continue His work?
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ ‘Well,’ they replied, ‘some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.’ Then he asked them, ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.’” -Matthew 16.13-18 (NLT)
This is a fairly familiar text in which Jesus explains His mission and clearly indicates that nothing will stand in the way. It is our duty as Christians to carry on this mission with the same level of authority; however, notice where the Church is to be built. Jesus says that the Church will be built on a rock—Peter’s confession. Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah that the Jews had been awaiting. He was able to perceive the divinity within Jesus and it was upon that revelation that the Christian Church was founded. Is Jesus still the foundation of the Church and the center of our faith, or have we lost our focus and made Christianity about less important things? Do we know and recognize Him for who He really is? Do we know Jesus's qualities and characteristics, the way He acted and reacted, His way of thinking, His way of loving? When I asked myself these questions I was disturbed at how incomplete my view of Jesus was. I was embarrassed.
Just as Jesus tells Peter in verse 17, the true revelation of who Jesus is only comes from the Father, so I've decided to become intentional about getting to know Jesus. Now, when I pray I ask God to reveal His Son to me. I search for scriptures that discuss Jesus’ character. I also just began reading a new book by John Ortberg called, Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. What are some other ways we can get to know Jesus? Let’s attempt to know Him. Let’s carry on the work He started and build His church. Let’s keep Jesus at the center of our faith.