Jesus is simple. The Bible isn’t. Jesus is deeply, profoundly, unknowably, unfathomably, costly, and painfully–simple.
I have noticed a pattern among many Christians who self-identify as “progressive,” “deep thinkers,” “spiritual” or “mystics” and “free from man-made religion.” In their attempts to be sophisticated and deep, they talk themselves right out of the simplicity that is in Christ. Eventually, they talk themselves out of any attachment to anything with even a remote or tangential connection with historical Christianity. This detachment is celebrated as being enlightened. There’s something very adolescent, even juvenile about it:
“My parents are idiots, out of touch, who needs them? I know things they’ve never understood and never will.”
Our individualist and subjective culture rewards this kind of thinking. Think about it: No one in 2,000 years has been quite as smart, spiritual, or enlightened as we are. Everyone before us had a religious “agenda,” but we are “pure.” This is always the reformer’s and restorationist’s challenge.
This is the inevitable end of what I call spiritual lust: an inordinate desire for intellectual (Fundamentalist, Evangelical, and Progressives) or emotional (Pentecostal and Charismatic) certitude, novelty, and stimulation.
In a sense, Jesus is the end of spiritual wanderings and wonderings. It doesn’t get any deeper than Jesus. But then there’s the cross with its death sentence on all our spiritual ambitions and excursions.
“When did we do these things to you, Lord?” “When you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.”
So simple, yet not ego-gratifying. So we ignore it and launch into metaphysical excursions of wonder, patting ourselves on the back about how we have been set free from man-made religion, merrily deluding ourselves.
Jesus is not an object to be studied. He is not known that way. He is known to the degree we embrace the cruciform way. The cross reveals Him. Jesus, and through Him the Father, is known through the cross and resurrection.
He that does not love, (in a cruciform way), does not know God – John the Apostle to the Church of Christ (some readings of Paul not withstanding!)
That is the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The rest is commentary. And sometimes, it is just not very exciting. In fact, it is down right crucifying and it is supposed to be so.
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