by Mike Ratliff
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV)
Every professing Christian, whether he or she is trained theologian or not, has constructed some kind of Christology in their mind, in their heart. Sadly, with the dearth of clear and correct doctrine being taught in our churches, most seem to believe that whatever their own concept of Christ is it is okay. After all, to have correct doctrine isn’t that important…right? Some think that Jesus came to give His followers a “better life” here and now. This would include becoming prosperous and influential. Others see Jesus as mostly concerned about the environment and that He is the ultimate tree hugger. Still others see Jesus as primarily a teacher of ethics. This same Jesus is concerned with accepting all into His kingdom regardless of whether they have repented of their sins or not. Are any of these examples representative of the Jesus we meet in God’s Word?
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV)
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17 ESV)
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16 ESV)
In these three passages, for example, we do see that God is concerned about the stewardship of His creation, love for others, and friendship among the brethren. However, it is a mistake to major in any of these as our Lord’s primary purpose. Those who do that have created their “own Jesus” who is always conformed to the purpose that is conceived of in this misappropriation of our Lord. This make-believe Jesus embraces the culture’s values without challenging them. He never threatens the status quo. After all, this Jesus is all about never offending anyone. This Jesus is simply an add-on to ones life, an accessory who would never dare get in the way of “sincere” religiosity that is geared to make people feel good about themselves by not being concerned with the sin in their lives.
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world to become the cash cow for anyone’s ministry. He did not leave glory in Heaven to become a man then die a horrible death on the Cross so that people could create their own purposes for Him. An honest reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with one’s mind fully engaged and free from man-made hermeneutics will make it clear to the heart that Jesus Christ is subject to no man or any purpose created by men. Genuine salvation turns men’s values upside-down. Those whom our Lord saves find out pretty quick that man-made religion is just a worthless as the secular. The genuine Christian life is not about self at all. No, it is all about God and His glory. Man-made religion is no different than the secular. Both exalt the proud and arrogant. Genuine Christianity exalts the humble (Luke 1:52).
Paradoxically, Christ is the prince of peace and this peace comes between all whom He saves as well as between them and God. However, it also incites the hatred of the world (Luke 4:16-30), especially from those who claim to be Christians, but who are simply religious in some man-made system. The means of our salvation came via the Cross. This was a shameful and undeserved death, but through it comes the promise of a final, cosmic redemption of all those who believe. However, our Lord’s crucifixion is a stumbling block to the unrepentant Jews. It is foolishness to the unregenerate (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
Those of us who do know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour must examine ourselves to make sure that we have not also created a Christology of our own preferences. When we view the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation as a man and His sacrificial death on the Cross, and His resurrection as only to give us clean hearts and a promise of an eternity in heaven, then we are majoring in only part of the intent of His work. Yes, redemption and sanctification are central to why our Lord came and died for His people, but that is only part of His intention. His full purpose is to bring a new Heaven and a new Earth in which He and all of His people will dwell forever (Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 3:13). Our Christology must take into account the reality of future, resurrected life and the renewal of all things. Theology is not complete if eschatology is ignored.
Soli Deo Gloria!