Who is Jesus Christ?
- a swear word?
- a cameo character in TV’s South Park?
- the Jesus of Mormons (Latter Day Saints): a man from another universe who earned a promotion to have a harem of women in heaven to populate our earth?
- the subject of a Broadway musical?
- the Jesus of The Da Vinci Code: the father of French kings?
- the Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses and their New World Translation: an angel who was a lower-level god?
Lots of different versions of Jesus out there! Are any of them worth believing in? Have any of these Jesus-es transformed your life? Would you give your life up for any of them?
About 100 people every month give up their life for a better Jesus . . . the one described in the Bible. They are murdered for following the real Jesus Christ. That’s 1,200 people a year around the world — and that’s a conservative estimate. (You can find out more about modern martyrs for Jesus through OpenDoorsUSA.org).
The earliest records of those martyred for Jesus are collected in the biblical book of Acts. So people have been putting their lives on the line for Jesus for the past 2,000 years — and not as suicide bombers or terrorists, but as people full of valor who are unwilling to deny that the Jewish Messiah is their Redemptive King. Why would people do this?
Q: Why would people do this?
A: Because Jesus gave up his life for them.
Because Jesus gave up his life for them and for us all — that’s at least part of the reason. Jesus did this so that we humans can have a reconciled relationship with God the Father. Just like God freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt through accepting the sacrifice of Passover lambs in 1446 BCE, Jesus freed us from slavery to the things that separate us from God’s love through his self-sacrifice.
As an Irish preacher put it simply: “Jesus left his place . . . to come to our place . . . to take our place . . . so that we can go to his place.”
Jesus (God the Son) did a lot for us:
- becoming a humble human baby
- teaching and modeling God’s ways
- taking responsibility for our sins
- submitting to an unjust execution and death
- defeating death by his resurrection
- revealing that we are going home to God the Father
- empowering his followers with the Holy Spirit
Radical Inclusion . . . Profound Transformation . . . Inspired Service
through Jesus Christ
Jesus is all about radical inclusion, profound transformation, and inspired service. Jesus is all about wanting us to receive God’s radical inclusion. He wants us to be part of his eternal, universal reign where we seek to live life the way God intended for us (traditionally referred to as the Kingdom). He wants us to grow in loving relationships with God and other people (traditionally referred to as the Greatest Commandments). He wants us to be filled with ever deepening joy and peace which organically brings his profound transformation into our lives.
As we experience God’s radical inclusion and profound transformation, we are able to live lives of inspired service. We want to share the good news about Jesus with yet other people (traditionally referred to as the Great Commission). We want to see the joy and peace in us rippling through our family, work, school, neighborhood, and organizations (traditionally referred to as vocation).
Such inspired service shifts the spiritual climate of our little slice of the world. As we see the Holy Spirit work through the impact of our life — both as individuals and together as a church family — we desire to celebrate God more and more (traditionally referred to as worship).