I think we have this unspoken belief in many churches that Jesus is the first step of the Christian life. It’s what we tell the little kids about in Sunday School. We don’t tell them about the Holy Spirit, or God the Father, we talk to them about Jesus. “Jesus loves the little children”. “Jesus loves me this I know”. Jesus is the kindergarten topic.
And then we think that when you get older, you get the rest of the stuff. We want to talk about more interesting topics, like apologetics, Christian worldview, the trinity, holiness, men’s and women’s roles, or election. These seem like the “grown up” and “mature” topics. Jesus seems like step one that will get us to the more interesting stuff.
We don’t talk about Jesus, because we think we’ve mastered him. Granted, I never would have thought of it in those terms, and I think most people don’t consciously think that outright, but it doesn’t change the fact that that’s how we act.
Partly, this comes from us trying to systematize Jesus. The Westminster Confession Q7 asks “What is God” rather than “Who is God?” When we go to study the person and work of Jesus, we put him under the microscope to study him like we would any other doctrine. In reformed circles, we can tend to unintentionally depersonalize Jesus by treating him as if His person and work were merely another doctrine in a long line of doctrines.
I remember when this hit home for me for the first time. It was a few years ago, and I heard a Bible teacher say “The kingdom exists for the King. Soteriology serves eschatology and eschatology serves Christology.” That rocked my world. His point was that Jesus saved us not just to save our souls, but so that we could be part of his kingdom. Our getting saved (soteriology) is for the purpose of the kingdom (eschatology). I wholeheartedly agreed with that. But what was new to me was that the kingdom exists not for itself, as if that were the end goal. The kingdom exists to serve JESUS. Jesus is the point of getting saved. Jesus is the point of the kingdom.
My goal is to better know and better exalt Jesus in my day to day life. I want to know Him more intimately. I want to revel in Him. I want His presence with me as I go about my day. But this is a difficult task in our crazy, fast paced lives. How can I focus on Jesus when I’m supposed to be focusing on my work?
We do that by broadening our understanding of Jesus. I think our understanding of Jesus is too small. We’re glad he saved us, but we view it as kind of a done thing. We think, “I got my soul saved”, and it’s as though we think the next time He’ll be relevant to us is at his second coming, so in between, what is there to talk about? We move on with our busy lives of going to work, watching our favorite netflix shows, and doing our taxes. We don’t see the relevance of Jesus to all of our moment-by-moment activities.
We affirm the humanity of Christ in doctrine, but we don’t look to Him as our continual example for how we are to be, and who we are to become, here and now, as humans. We think Jesus is some spiritual being who saved our spiritual souls and gives us some spiritual proverbs to live by. And when things get hard, He’s there to pray to. But Jesus is a human. He will be a human for the rest of eternity. He will never lay aside his physical body. He is fully God, yes. But also fully human. He took on human-ness for us. So when we struggle with productivity, do we ask how Jesus was productive? When we struggle with exhaustion, do we look to how Jesus stewarded his energy? Jesus’ humanity means that He shares in the ordinary-ness of life with us. He lived that, too. He understands the exhaustion of having to brush your teeth again. And switch the laundry again. And pay your bills again. And be kind to that annoying person again. In our human-ness, we can look to Jesus who is our human example.
Jesus is not only our example though, He is also our source… our source of wisdom, our source of creativity, our source of strength. And He is those things not just for “spiritual” things, but also for our earthly, daily activities. As the creator of the world we operate daily in, he cares about what we do. Even something as mundane as our work has intrinsic value to the world, and therefore to God.
Jesus isn’t something I outgrow and graduate from. Jesus is the substance of life itself. Instead of outgrowing Jesus, the more we mature, the more of his fullness we can appreciate, like Lucy experienced with Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia…
“Aslan,” said Lucy “you’re bigger”.C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
“That is because you are older, little one” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
So as I go throughout my day, I want to get a broader view of the relevance of Jesus. I want to understand how Jesus is relevant to my business, my interaction with my friend, and my meal planning. Nothing is too ordinary. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the end, and everything in between.
“Sometimes we find ourselves tiring of Jesus, stupidly imagining that we have seen all there is to see and used up all the pleasure there is to be had in him. We get spiritually bored. But Jesus has satisfied the mind and heart of the infinite God for eternity. Our boredom is simply blindness. If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in him, then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us. In every situation, for eternity.”— Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ