One of my favorite bloggers, iMonk is phasing-out his current blog and creating a new site called Jesus Shaped Spirituality. In writing about this concept, he’s touching on some major issues in Christian spirituality as well as some things that I’ve been turning over in my head for awhile. He kicks-off the new site with the declaration that “God is Jesus.” Read carefully, I didn’t say “Jesus is God,” and this isn’t an apologetics argument. The fullness of God dwelt in human flesh, Jesus is God incarnate, and the way we know God is through the person of Jesus.
“Let’s get to the bottom line here. What does “God is Jesus” mean as I will use that phrase?
It means that God isn’t just Yahweh, but is the God who revealed himself in Jesus. It means that God isn’t best revealed in the pages of a book, but in the person who is the message and meaning of that book. It means that God is not best revealed in a church, its traditions or its leaders, but in the one mediator between God and man, Jesus of Nazareth. (I Timothy 2:5)
It means that all religion of every kind is a “shadow” of the good thing that was to come- Jesus. (Col 2:17) It means that the “face” of God is revealed NO WHERE ELSE with “exactness” but in Jesus of Nazareth. (2 Cor 4:4,6) It means that those who are in union with Jesus Christ are “complete in him,” because there is nothing else to add to our knowledge of God beyond what he has said to us in Jesus. (Col 2:9-10)
I have to credit N.T. Wright with saying, for the first time in my own study of Jesus, that the God whom Christians worship is known in the person of Jesus. This overturned a lot of furniture in my mind and heart. I was still trying to stretch various parts of the Bible to fit Jesus. I now realize that all of scripture comes to a clear focus in Jesus. You can know all the laws and commandments, and obey them, and still not be in the Kingdom. But to belong to Jesus the King is to be in the Kingdom of God, no matter what else you know or have done.”
I foresee myself echoing many of his posts on this blog, so forgive me in advance for what is sure to be a major promo, iMonk just always seems to write clearly and more deeply about things that I’m on the fringe of thinking about. I’m always reading him and saying, “YES! I wish I could say it like that!”
More importantly, the subject of his new blog, a Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, really touches on something that I’ve personally wrestled with for a few years. The fact that although I’m a believer in Christ and a dedicated Christian, my heart is not very connected with the person of Jesus. God the Father, yes. Holy Spirit, yes. But Jesus? Not so much. And I think part of this is because much of Christianity unintentionally leaves Him out. Sure we’ll talk all day about the Cross and salvation, but it rarely seems to center on the person of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels and what it looks like to orient our lives around literally following Him. It’s like we focus more on Him as the means to an end… about His significance, not who He is, and He becomes more of a figurehead than someone I want to pray to about my day. I’d much rather read the Apostle Paul than the Gospel of Luke. I’d really rather learn about the theological significance of following Jesus than about what Jesus was actually like and how I can figure-out what following Him looks like for me. I don’t really pray TO Jesus, when I pray I’m connected to the idea of the Father and Spirit. Jesus seems too real, too personal…. too human. But maybe that should be the point.
So, with all credit to Michael Spencer and his personal journey of faith, I’m probably gonna be stealing a few of his topics as they relate to my own process and blog about them here. I really want to hear what y’all think about this, so please comment freely!