Series: Restoring Vitality – Faith dries up when it gets too personal.

This series is an attempt to rejoin the journey.  Faith can fade.  We can easily let go of the very thing we embraced in the beginning.  There are many reasons and ways that take us there.  My hope is for us to be refreshed, to reengage. And in that find joy.  In the last article, I wrote, “Once we put him at the center, we see that Christ, his ministry, and his presence give meaning to everything.  We see him at work in us and in the world around us.  We realize his ministry is just as real and life-changing as it was 2,000 years ago.”

How do we put him at the center?  For us to put Christ at the center is not some spiritually nebulous exercise.  It isn’t a sentimental spirituality which speaks only romantic thoughts of the one who came to bring us a better life. It is  the hard work of understanding, embracing and reorienting all things around him. Do you realize without Jesus, nothing in the Scripture makes sense? Without him, the Old Testament is a tribal book of a failed people who wouldn’t keep their own rules.  Without him, the New Testament is a book of stories, moral admonitions and complex theologies.  Without him, nothing has meaning.  Without him nothing has being.  If we try to give Christ his rightful place we have to realize as Peter said, in Acts 10:36 “As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all).”  

In those parentheses we find everything! The Christ is not just a Christian God, or Savior. He is not a tribal, geographical, culturally and time-limited God.  He is Lord of all.  He reigns over all.  All is his.  All meaning, purpose, belonging, power, direction and hope is found in him.  For us to get unstuck, we have to start with him again.  Not just him in the manger, or him on the cross, or walking around after the resurrection. The Jesus we have to grab hold of is the Lord of all. 

There are 3 dimensions of his existence that we need to re-engage to put some color back in our faith. First, we need to be clear about his being. He is God incarnate.  He is a member of the eternal Trinity of God, who humbled himself and joined humanity (see the last article).  Secondly, we need clarity about his mission.  Why did he come?  Thirdly, we need clarity about his teaching and ways (the next article).

Our view of Scripture, time and life are shaped by our understanding of Christ’s purpose for coming to this earth. He did not come to give us our “best life now.”  Nor did he come to tell us to just hang in there until we get that mansion on streets of gold.  Christ came to inaugurate a new kingdom on the earth. He came to destroy those old enemies of God’s kingdom, sin and death, from the inside out.  When we look at the Scriptures through that lens, we realize this is not a new work.  His coming was a completion of a work that began before foundations of the world were set in place. Every turn of the page in  history led to this.  And now every turn of the globe moves us closer to its consummation.

Let’s look at some key passages that inform us of his mission.  An opening salvo happened in a synagogue in Nazareth. ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:18–21) 

In an argument with those who thought Jesus was cavorting with the wrong people, he said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) 

In a description of his desire to shepherd all humanity he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) 

He came also to invite us to his mission. Again and again he repeated the invitation he gave to Peter, “Then he said to him, “Follow me!”” (John 21:19)

Jesus came to introduce and offer a kingdom of light and life with the power to deliver all people from that which has entombed us in darkness. He came to reconcile all things to the God of creation, Father, Son and Spirit. He came to invite us into that purpose by becoming his people.

Embrace Christ and you embrace his person as eternal God. Embrace Christ and you also embrace his mission. The mission of Jesus gives history its arc.  The mission of Jesus is the story’s thread. It is the logic of all that has happened and will happen.  Paul called it the mystery!  It was something that was veiled until Jesus arrived and the curtain was pulled back. The only question is, will we embrace it?  Will we live in harmony with the movement of history, or will we live in dissonance? There is no middle ground.  There is no “wait and see” because the mission moves forward every day.

To “have faith” in Jesus without embracing his mission is to create a Jesus of our imaginations and that makes him no bigger than us.  He becomes a guru, a rabbi, or spiritual friend.  As a personal guide we can keep him in our hip pockets and pull him out for consultations when life gets a little befuddling.  This is the Jesus that loses his shine.  Like a rabbit’s foot, or Magic 8 ball, this Jesus isn’t big enough to keep us engaged. He’s too quiet. He’s too personal. He’s so small he can easily be ignored.

Embracing Jesus and his mission gives our lives meaning beyond us. God’s eternal purposes are opened before us and they invite us to join. The question is, “will we?”  Will we view all of life through the lens of Jesus’ mission?  Will we see that every day in every encounter, we have a way to participate in something that is eternal? We can become part of the story’s thread. 

Thanks for reading.  As always, comments, shares and likes are appreciated.

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