I thought about titling this post “Brilliant Minds Think Alike.” For this morning, I’ve been working on a back-up sermon for my parish, a sermon for me to give in case my rector cannot preach. And in it I make the point that one cannot divorce Jesus from the Bible. To warm up to my point, I remember an episode from my Presbyterian Church of years ago:
One time I heard a preacher say, “We don’t believe the Bible; we believe the Christ behind the Bible.” Well, that preacher was wrong. And, by the way, I told her so after that service. Which wasn’t exactly appreciated. But, regardless, she was wrong. If you believe Jesus, then you believe the word that he believed in. One cannot call Jesus Lord and then in effect say Jesus was wrong to trust God’s word as authoritative, so we won’t believe God’s word as authoritative. But there are people who try to get away with this somehow.
In the draft sermon, I continue:
Beware of those who divorce Jesus and the Bible. The result is not the real Jesus, but a pet Jesus who reflects our inclinations rather than God’s. To the politically radical, a pet Jesus is radical; to hippies, a pet Jesus is a hippy; to surfers a pet Jesus is a surfer dude.
Now Jesus may have been radical; he may have had long hair; and he most certainly walked on water like surfers only dream of. But Jesus is much much more than that. Yet if we fall into the foolishness of divorcing him from God’s word, our Jesus will be as small and as distorted as our desires. Our Jesus will not be the real Jesus.
Well, just a few moments after working on those words, I see that Matt+ Kennedy has made a very similar point over at Stand Firm. If we are left to our own inclinations and perceptions, then . . .
One person's Jesus is meek and mild another person's Jesus is Almighty and King and Lord. One person's Jesus is all about non-violence and another's is making whips out of cords. One person's Jesus says that its okay never to go to church because worship takes place in the heart another person's Jesus says go to church every Sunday. There is the emergent Jesus, the inclusive Jesus, the social revolutionary Jesus, the peace and justice Jesus, the green Jesus, the gay Jesus, the straight Jesus the Republican Jesus the Democrat Jesus, the baby Jesus...name your politics, name your movement, name your preferences, name your passions and there is a Jesus for you.
But you don't have to stumble around and wonder, guess, speculate about who God is and what he is like. He speaks. He speaks to you and to everyone else directly and clearly. God has answered that question. When you read scripture, when you come face to face with God's own self-revelation, then you know who God is.
The point is clear. If you seek to know Jesus, to know God, then don’t rely on just your own perceptions. Seek to know His word.
And not just because Matt+ and I say so. ;)