Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Matters is What God Has Revealed

Over the weekend I followed a discussion about the humanity of Jesus on Scot McKnight's blog Jesus Creed. The discussion began with Scot recommending a book that focused on the human side of Jesus. The fact that Jesus was man who lived at a specific time in history is something that is very important for us who follow Him, for it is His example, how He lived, that helps provides direction for our lives (as well as His teaching and the teachings of His disciples which make up the New Testament).

As I read through the comments that formed the discussion two things bothered me. The first thing that bothered me was the declaration of a couple of the commentators that most Christians don't think about the humanity of Jesus. We love to make blanket statements, especially if we can escape being covered by them. These type of comments imply that because we do contemplate the humanity of Jesus we are better than other people. Besides that how do we know people don't think about it? It is impossible to read the Gospels and not get the sense that Jesus was indeed a man. I think what most people have trouble with, and the reason it maybe isn't talked about, is because it is hard to contemplate the humanity and divinity of Jesus. I don't know about you, but that is something I continue to wrestle with (not that I don't believe it, but how is it possible and what does it mean).

But what really got me thinking was this comment:
Bob, “Did Jesus curse like a Phoenician sailor when he smashed his thumb with a hammer? Did Jesus have eyes for the ladies? For the men? Boxers or briefs?”

Are you being sarcastic? Because I think these are legitimate questions. Maybe not boxers or briefs (he wore a seamless garment, right?), but certainly the way Jesus dealt with sexuality, anger, and pain should teach us a lot with how we are to deal with those things. (Comment #9)

The reason why this statement bothered me is because it implies that we don't have information to really follow Jesus. As I have pondered this statement this is the question I kept coming back to: "What would Jesus struggle, or lack of struggle, teach me about sexuality that I don't already know?" Part of the fallacy of this thinking is that because Jesus was a guy and I am a guy then He struggled with the same things that I struggle with. We don't know if Jesus struggled with his sexuality, the Bible doesn't tell us, and therefore it isn't very relevant as we follow Jesus. What is relevant is His teaching on the subject. Maybe if we spent more time studying and meditating on His teachings His humanity wouldn't seem to be the missing piece of the puzzle.

What is more valuable than knowing more about Jesus' humanity? I think there are two realities that are more valuable to our lives as disciples than knowing more about Jesus' humanity.

The first reality is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Think about what Jesus said the night He was betrayed concerning the Holy Spirit: "However, I am telling you the truth. It is for your advantage that I am going away, for if I do not go away the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7; ISV). Jesus said it was for the disciples benefit that He leave and the Holy Spirit comes. I realize there are a couple of layers to what Jesus is saying here, but one thing is that Holy Spirit in our hearts is more important to our spiritual maturity than Jesus continued physical presence on the earth. Spiritual maturity isn't the result of observing how Jesus handled His life in the flesh, but it is about listening to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will teach us the truth that we need to grow.

The second reality is when the New Testament writers wanted to encourage people they pointed the struggling people to the Glorified Christ. Hebrews 12:2 is such an example:.. looking off to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who, in view of the joy set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (ISV). When we are going through struggles we need to have hope. That is what focusing on the Risen Christ gives us. It reminds us that although this life is a struggle there is something better that awaits us.

In our journey of faith, as we follow Jesus, we shouldn't be distracted by things God hasn't revealed to us, such as the questions we have about Jesus' humanity, but instead we should focus on what we do have: the leading of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Risen Savior.

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