Column: Who is Jesus … to Me?
Before we try to figure out who Jesus is to me, we first should be clear about who Jesus is in the Bible.
Modern culture preemptively subordinates Jesus and promotes man’s assumed primacy of intellect, philosophy, creativity, productivity, ownership and – of all over-reaching imaginings – moral righteousness. “Modern” here isn’t “modern times,” it’s “modern thought,” a man-honoring philosophical emanation from the Enlightenment era of roughly the late 1600s through the late 1800s. Jesus wound up on trial … again.
This was the era of big thinkers of big ideas who led Western culture to big changes. Thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Newton, Jefferson, Paine, Madison, Nietzsche, Kant, Darwin and others crafted secular humanism (testing humanity’s ability to get along without God), personal freedom (endowed by a Creator to whom obeisance became increasingly optional), democracy (American Revolution), new science (Evolution), and eventually, incredible technology (just look around).
Certainly, Jesus and the Bible were firmly embedded in society. Even ardent non-believers understood that a properly ordered democratic society had to be founded on objective morality. Man governing himself required men behaving in a moral manner toward their neighbors. Jesus and the Bible provided the requisite moral narrative.
Centuries of church upheaval in Europe and freedom’s new calculus in America allowed big thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic to believe they could redefine relationships among God, Jesus, morality and religion into an entity accommodating man’s ever-expanding vision of his own philosophical preeminence and moral righteousness. Meanwhile, burgeoning scientific discovery intensified mankind’s belief that technology could master and ultimately explain the physical and moral universe.
It became acceptable to ask: Who is Jesus, to me? And different Jesus’s began to appear – to new religious groups, adventurous spiritual spinoffs, fast-talking false prophets, Bible-twisting entrepreneurs, prosperity preaching frauds, self-help charlatans and basically to anyone preferring a customized vision of Jesus heavy on personal presumption but light on biblical truth.
So society’s become a moral free-for-all, with the Bible, Jesus, prayer, and even the objective existence of Godly moral absolutes kicked out of education, politics, most of the media, entertainment and popular culture. A current consumerist spiritual narrative might be: “If you must mention Jesus – and I’d rather you didn’t – just tell me how He’s going to help me, not some moral ‘truth’ I just can’t believe. I don’t need a Lord; I need a God who can fix things to my liking. I have plenty of faith in myself.”
Go look at Revelation 19:11-16. Faithful. True. Sword. Blood. Scepter. King of Kings. Lord of Lords.
That’s who Jesus is. For all of us.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) asserts that searching for Jesus is a search for truth, not self. If it is too comfortable, it’s not Jesus.