An idea floating in the Sunday School class this past Sunday has remained with me. Our response to who Jesus of Nazareth is has been pre-empted and a fraudulent substitute has been put in its place. When all is said and done it must be stated that many Christians WORSHIP Jesus. Why?
Have you ever heard someone pray to Jesus? Are you familiar with moments of hearing Jesus being praised and adored? Have you perused through a hymnal lately and noticed how many hymns speak of a worship/attention/allegience that is to be given to Jesus only? Somehow I thought all of this was to be directed to God....the one who stands behind Jesus, the Bible, and all other aspects of the grandeur of creation.
Yes, before you jump to correct me, I know that some bishops a long time ago struggled to understand who Jesus really was and finalized that issue in their own minds by elevating Jesus to a trinitarian framework. God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just remember that that neat little package is the result of some votes taken, manipulated by the more powerful bishops, and blessed by the Emperor. You will not find an unfolding development of that thought in the Bible. After you strip away what others believed about Jesus, you will not find that concept on the heart of or in the mouth of Jesus. He was faithful to God. He worshiped and prayed to God. His ministry pointed toward the reign of God on earth.
It is a whole lot easier to worship Jesus than it is to follow him.
You see, that's what gets us off the hook and perpetuates the fraud. If we just praise Jesus, sing loudly about what he has done through his death/resurrection, verbalize in the church building, on the street or the TV program about "the wonderful, matchless grace of Jesus...magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise his name!", then that will be enough. It's a great arrangement!
The hymnbook of the ancient Hebrews was the Psalms. There, God was praised, adored, held in awe, sometimes struggled with. Yes, the Psalms were pre-Jesus. The worship in spirit and truth of God still holds. Even Jesus said that.
When I was young and engaged in "church-talk", I never remember saying (or hearing) that Jesus called me to preach. Rather, it was that God called me to preach. Discussing our lives, plans, and purpose, no one ever said anything about seeking Jesus' will. We spoke of trying to find God's will.
Robert Funk has said that we need to give Jesus a demotion. He asked for it, he deserves it, we owe him no less. We are the ones who elevated Jesus to a position of adoration. That way we don't have to take him seriously. If he actually became our leader, this kingdom movement might find reformation.
Jesus is, for me, the best picture I think I will ever get of God. He points me toward God and especially what God desires here on earth. He leads me into understanding more and more who God is.....the God I seek to worship.