Are you serving the real Jesus or a Western version made in your own image? That's quite a compelling question, isn't it? It's kind of like asking how much of Christ is in your Christianity. Take Christmas, as an example. I think many of us would agree that Christmas has become so commercialized that Christ is hardly noticed, much less celebrated and revered. Easter would be in the same category. How in the world a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could have ever evolved into an affinity with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, I'll never know. Such is the tenuous nature of idolatry.
Is it possible for Jesus Christ to be lost in Christianity, the very religion whose name it bears and professes? We know that without a relationship with Christ, just another religion is all that remains. We also know from Scripture that someone can profess to know Christ but in works actually deny Him (Titus 1:16). But isn't it also true that in works many may profess to know Him, but in authentic heart-knowledge, they do not?
Here's a quick contrast:
The biblical Jesus warns us of sin, judgment and hell, but the Americanized Jesus never says anything negative.
The biblical Jesus gives you salvation, hope, peace and joy, but the Americanized Jesus gives you happiness, wealth and sentimental feelings.
The biblical Jesus brings division when necessary, but the Americanized Jesus promotes unity and tolerance at all costs.
Would you agree that Jesus was perfect in all His ways? Yet His perfect love made some people angry. It brought a strange kind of trauma into their lives. His words disturbed and unsettled many and even caused riots. That's because His love was a holy love. And holiness always repels the carnal mind and makes people hostile. Jesus was perfect in love, and yet they killed Him for it. Such is the spirit that's in the world and in religion. Holiness always provokes hatred and makes proud people mad while ministering life and a heavenly fragrance to the humble.
The Aroma of Christ
I've been around persecuted Christians and have received much from their spirits. When you are around someone who suffers, an aroma of Christ pervades the very atmosphere. The Western church must cultivate this holy quality, but it can't be done until we understand meekness, brokenness and suffering—all qualities of the real Jesus, the Lamb of God. Sentimental love, so common in Western nations, rooted in the fear of man, will never possess those qualities. Listen to the words of Watchmen Nee describe the breaking of the alabaster box by the woman who anointed Jesus for burial (John 12:1-8).
The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the sweetest odor. Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered—been limited, gone through things for the Lord, been imprisoned, and is satisfied with the Lord and nothing else—immediately you sense the fragrance. There is the savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed. Something has been broken. And there is a resulting odor of sweetness."
Jesus, the Express Image of God and the Brightness of the Father's Glory
Many other people only know God as a Creator and a Judge. They have a crooked perspective of Him and see Him as a sort of policeman or traffic cop, who only springs into action when they are caught in a wrongdoing. Without the Lord Jesus coming into our world as God Incarnate, living among us, and revealing the deepest profundity of the fatherly heart of God, this is the conclusion many mere humans will formulate of Him. This perception of God does not draw me close. It does not pull on my heartstrings. It does not stir up any faith and praise or desire to know Him. This demeaning view of God is not enough. Unless we come to know Him as a loving Father, we will have a crippling walk with God and be at a grave disadvantage in relation to Him. We will never function aright until we see Him aright.
This is the God Jesus reflected. This is the loving Father He came to reveal to us. This is the real Jesus.
These are some highlights and key excerpts from my latest book, The Real Jesus.
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