So I put down whatever I was working on, walked out the door and approached the stranger. I introduced myself and asked him if I could pray for him. He smiled and proceeded to tell me about how he’s had polio all of his life. He then began to tell me how much he loves God and how thankful he is for all of the things God’s done for him in his life.
So when I was finished I asked him if he would pray for me. He looked kind of surprised but he did and it was great. I was certainly blessed as the man prayed over me as the Lord led him. We both left that encounter totally blessed and in awe of the all-consuming, perfect love of God.
What is normal supposed to look like for all of us who follow Jesus? We each might have a different answer for that question. That’s probably because how we view God and His kingdom is so often shaped and molded by our experiences. That is, the people we’ve been taught by and the choices we’ve made and the beliefs we’ve adopted.
For example, if someone you consider a “spiritual authority” has taught you that miracles are not for today then, for you, the normal Christian life probably does not include miracles. Many of us are struggling with the things I mentioned in my last post, things that have become our normal that just shouldn’t be.
So, what does God say normal should be? I want to try and answer the question as simply as I can and then briefly explain my reasoning. This will be a bit longer than normal but please hang with me.
God’s normal is not an idea. It is not a theology or some intangible, abstract grouping of thoughts. God’s normal is a person, a living human being. God’s normal is Jesus. It’s simple yet incredibly profound.
There are some fun phrases out there like, Christ Centered Theology and Jesus is Perfect Theology. And I agree but they don’t do us any good unless we know what they mean. Short and sweet, having a Christ centered theology means that Jesus is the lens through which we interpret everything. It’s not just bringing Jesus alongside scripture but instead putting Him over it. If what we believe lines up with the teaching and life of Jesus then great. If not then we should seriously consider letting it go.
Here are a couple of brief reasons why I’m confident in Christ centered theology.
1. Hebrews 1:1-3. Here the writer of Hebrews explains that in the past God was revealed and it was good. But God is now revealed through His Son and that revelation is far greater and superior. He goes on to say that Jesus is the radiance (or essence) of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being. In other words, Jesus is to God what light is to the sun. The sun manifested looks like light and in the same way God’s glory manifested looks like Jesus. This is huge. Whenever God is manifested it’s Jesus! When the glory of God falls it’s Jesus!
2. Matthew 11:27. Jesus says that no one knows the Father but Him and those Jesus chooses to reveal Him too. This is probably the most inflammatory thing Jesus said. He was talking to people who built their lives on knowing God. There was nothing more important to them than their right standing with God. This was probably the most blasphemous thing they’d ever heard. Now Jesus wasn’t saying that no one knows God at all (Jewish culture was big on hyperbole or exaggeration) but He was certainly saying that His knowledge of God was far greater and above their own.
3. Mount of Transfiguration. Imagine the reaction of Peter, James and John when they saw the most important people of their entire belief system (Moses and Elijah) standing with Jesus. Moses represents the law and Elijah the prophets. There was nobody greater than those two for the Jews. And yet the radiance of Jesus outshines them. Then God tells them to listen to Jesus. Finally, only Jesus remains.
4. Revelation 5. This has actually become my favorite reason. Bear with me because it’s kinda deep. Revelation is an apocalyptic book. Writing in that genre is always symbolic. It’s not mean to be taken literally. In chapter 5 John sees a scroll in the right hand of the one who sits on the throne (God). The right hand is always symbolic of power and character. The scroll being held by the right hand is means that its contents describe that power and character. John weeps because no one on earth, past or present, is found worthy to open the scroll (reveal the true character and power of God). But then he sees the Lion (symbolic of the Jewish image of the Messiah) of Judah coming but it’s not a Lion. It’s a Lamb. And it’s not just a lamb but a small lamb that looks like it’s been slain (Calvary). Then everyone rejoices because finally there is someone (Jesus) who can accurately reveal the character and power of God.
There are more reasons that I love but don’t have the time for here. I hope that we can truly begin to grasp that our perception of God and His kingdom must always flow through Jesus. What we believe must always line up with what He taught, how He lived, how He ministered etc. I think that the enemy has done an excellent job of distorting our understanding of God and His kingdom by getting us to elevate our experiences and interpretations higher than Jesus. We must understand that when we look at Jesus we are looking at God (John 14:7).
In my next post I’ll discuss what God’s normal (Jesus) can look like lived out. Thanks for sticking with me!
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