“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
A straight line may be drawn from a given point to any other point. Put another way, the first postulate in geometry tells us the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Maybe you remember this truth statement from high school. Maybe you are studying it now. Maybe you have purged it from your memory bank. It is a true truth, but it hardly stirs the heart.
On my wedding day, I was not conscious of Euclid’s postulate. I just knew there was a beautiful woman at the other end of the straight line, and I couldn’t wait for her to walk down the aisle. The first postulate was just as true on my wedding day as it was in high school geometry class, but my focus that day was on a person…the person I was about to join in the union of marriage.
In many respects, this distinction between focus on a postulate versus a person has been weighing heavy on me lately. I have come to realize that I have lost sight of the person of Jesus. Oh, I know the theological truths. I can cite the Bible…book, chapter, and verse…to describe Jesus with theological precision, but I fear I’ve lost sight of His beauty.
The weeks leading up to Christmas began to expose this struggle in my heart. I knew the postulates. I knew that Jesus had to become man to die for the sins of man. I knew the prophecies which pointed to Christ’s coming. But in all of those passages, my focus was on the fact of fulfillment more than the anticipation of Jesus.
My wife and I talked through this struggle during advent. We talked on Christmas day. We’ve talked since. Then a couple of weeks ago, listening to the preached Word at a youth leader conference, and waking early to spend time in morning devotion, the Lord seemed to break through my cold logic. “I am a Person! Look upon me!” He seemed to be shouting, but it wasn’t a shout. It was a welcoming, loving, call.
WEIRD FOR A PASTOR?
Does it sound weird to you that a pastor would confess he had lost sight of the personhood of Jesus? I hope not. We’re people too, with the same struggles as other people. So how about you? Jesus asked His disciples (who were also His friends), “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) Who do YOU say that Jesus is?
< Pause to truly think about your answer.>
Do you answer in terms of postulates, or personhood? As I ask that question, let me qualify it. The truths of why Jesus came, what He did, and how we relate to Him are vitally important. They cannot be separated from His personhood. But, if we limit ourselves to the postulates, we reduce the gospel to a logical formula. I know. I have done it. And a logical formula rarely stirs the heart.
In addition to the content of your answer, how confident do you feel in that answer? Are you skeptical, or solid? Squeamish, or secure? Do you know Jesus, or do you merely know about Him? It’s ok. Be honest. I’m a pastor and I’ve just told you I had lost sight of the beauty of Jesus. After all, real conversation is only real when we are honest with one another. This is what makes real conversation with a person scary. But it is also what makes it beautiful.
I know, I know…we live in a community where it is not socially acceptable to acknowledge we have questions about Jesus. The ironic thing is that in most of the rest of the country it is not socially acceptable to acknowledge Jesus at all. So let’s make a deal. Let’s not worry about what is socially acceptable. Instead, I’d love for you to take a journey with me.
LET’S GO FOR A WALK
During my time in the Word over the course of the past couple weeks, the pronouns have been jumping off the page. I see the Lord referred to as He, and I am reminded that “He” points me to a Person. I am recapturing the truth that God is my FATHER. I am recapturing the beauty of Jesus, my Savior. This recapturing is stirring me to take a bit of journey, and I’d like to invite you to join me. So, can we take a walk together through the Gospel according to John?
In John 20:31, John writes, “these (signs) are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” I really don’t know if you believe or not. I don’t know if you believe, but are struggling with trying to recapture the beauty of Jesus. I don’t know if you claim to believe, but do so in name only. I don’t know if you want to believe, but are struggling with honest questions of faith. Wherever you are on that spectrum, will you come along with me?
In the coming months, I plan to take a journey through John, and I’d like to invite you to walk along with me. As I walk this path, I’d like to share some of my thoughts…almost like a travel journal. I don’t plan to hover over every verse. There is a place for that type of deep examination, but it is not my goal for this journey. I am simply looking to recapture my love for the person of Jesus. Along the way, I plan to share the highlights through a series of blog posts which I’ll send out every few weeks. Like Philip, who invited Nathaniel to “come and see” the One whom he had found (John 1:46), I am inviting you to come along, and let’s go see together. It may not always look like a straight line, but I know there is a beautiful person at the other end…our Lord Jesus Christ.