To be a Christian is simply to follow Jesus. Right?
But WHO is Jesus?
If we are going to follow someone, to trust and commit to someone, surely we need to understand who that person is?
So, who is Jesus?
Well, Christians answer that question in different ways.
First, many of us would simply say that Jesus is the Son of God. And, pressed further, we would add that he was divinely begotten and that he died on the cross to save us from our sins. To save the world.
The important thing for this group of Christians is to believe in Jesus – believing that he was who he said he was and that he died for our sins. This is, if you like a fideistic image of the Christian life, one whose primary dynamic is faith, which is understood as believing that certain things about Jesus are true. This belief leads to much else but is the primary factor in this image of the Christian life.
Secondly, many of us would say that Jesus was a great teacher. This ‘de-dogmatised’ image of Jesus is held by those of us who are not sure what to make of the doctrinal claims made about Jesus by the Christian tradition.
In this group, we set aside the dogma and are left with Jesus as a great moral teacher. We try to follow his commands to love God and neighbour and to do to others as we would be done to ourselves. We see the Christian life as essentially about ‘being good,’ of seeking to live as Jesus said we should. This leads to a moralistic image of the Christian life.
I want to say, however, that although both fideistic and moralistic images are true reflections of who Christ is and what the Christian life is about – they are both deficient. And lead to incomplete images of Christ and the Christian life.
Because the Christian life is not only about believing or about being good. It is about having a relationship with God. It is about coming to know that we are inextricably connected to God and opening our hearts to that connection.
You can think of it like this.
You want to make some toast. You believe that the toaster has the power to turn your bread into toast. You can see that hot toast is more appetising than cold bread and you would like toast so you put bread in the toaster. But none of this actually produces toast. To get toast you need to connect the toaster to an electricity supply, you need to plug it in and switch it on.
To be a Christian is to know that Christ has the power to change our lives for the better. It’s to know that the Christian life is a good way to live. But ultimately we won’t be enjoying a full Christian life if we don’t plug in the toaster and switch it on. If we don’t make the connection with God.
Jesus said he was the bread of life, but he was really the toast of life. CLICK TO TWEET
He was always switched on, always connected, to the power of God. In Jesus we see what living a life in full relationship with God looks like. That is truly who Jesus is. It is why we follow him. And it is why the Christian life brings us such joy and challenge.
Posted by Martine Oborne