Sunday night during a Bible study with some saints in Blacksburg, we discussed the nature of the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God in accordance with a theme one of our ministry leaders, Frank Sullivan, has been carrying us forward on: The Real Jesus. On this night he brought up four things about Jesus we teach in particular that we must confront both the world and ourselves with:
- Jesus is God
- Jesus allowed people to choose to follow him by responding to testimony.
- Jesus is a man (not that he is still walking the earth, but that he came in the flesh and that experience is in his “memory” today and he lives in his saints, who themselves live in fleshly bodies, today)
- Jesus came to show us God.
We were asked which of these four do we Christians (or we at this congregation) most struggle with ourselves. Among those who spoke, #2 and #3 were most difficult, the reasons being the following:
- #2—It’s hard for us to accept that so many will not choose to follow, or that the testimony of “preaching Christ crucified” and shining his example should be enough for those who seek.
- #3—It’s hard sometimes for us to grasp that a divine and perfect being could live in a fleshly body such as ours and not sin.
We were then asked which of these for do we think the world most struggles with when encountering the Gospel. Among those who spoke, we agreed that #1 was the most difficult, followed by #4. #3 is the easiest, because it’s not hard to fathom that a historical man named Jesus wandered the earth for 30 years teaching people about how to be a good person and upset the system. It’s also not hard to believe that in mythology there exists characters some once called “gods”. But to imagine a real God, first of all, and then to imagine him actually being in the form of a historical person, second of all, is difficult for those in the world yet transformed by the Gospel. But this was said of the early disciples, that “Christ crucified” would be foolishness and a stumbling block to many.
So we were left with this: That for those in Christ, the divinity of Christ the man and the testimony of his life to the world is a stumbling block to us, and that the nature of Christ and the authenticity of his life is a stumbling block to the world. How can we overcome the stumbling block to our own faith in the power of the message? How can we, without altering the message, show the message for what it is to the world? What about Christ does the world see when they see us? Do they see authentic Christ? Or do they see a false Christ?
What are your thoughts on these four general, essential teachings about the Christ? What among them is a struggle for you, and what among them is a struggle for those whom you bring the message to?
Jesus is…what, to whom, and why?