About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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What About Jesus?

More than three decades ago my good friend Glenn Shaver told us that Jesus should be the center of our lives, whether in theology, or in the working out of our theology in daily life. This has always been true in Glennís life. With a smile on his face, Glenn will say, "isnít Jesus wonderful". God Himself has placed Jesus at the center of all things, until the day comes when Jesus will return all of these things back to His Father.(1 Corinthians 15:24)  With this entrenched in my thinking from long ago let me share some things that have been on my heart.

Have you ever wondered why we as Christians speak more about God than we do about Jesus, or am I the only one who has noticed this?

Being statistically minded as I am, I have done some research. For example, one Christian sermons I heard lasted 35 minutes. The speaker used the word God 21 times and the name of Jesus 1 time. Jesus didnít appear in the sermon until the 25 minute mark, 3 quarters of the way through the message.

While watching a well known Christian TV personality, in a 7 minute span of time, she used the word God 18 times and the name of Jesus 3 times.

While attending an Evangelical ecumenical meeting that started at 6 PM, the first mention of Jesus, (outside of the songs we sang) was not spoken until 7:05. The meeting ended at 7:30. The word God was mentioned 29 times by various speakers, while the name of Jesus was mentioned 5 times.

Am I the only one that scratches my head over these statistics? You might ask me, "donít you have anything better to think about while listening to a sermon"? You might even suggest I am splitting hairs and making too much out of words. Hear me out for a moment and see if there is something to this compulsion of mine.

Soon after 911 (Sept..2001) I watched a memorial service on TV for those who died in this tragedy. One thing really stood out to me. A Protestant minister prefaced his prayer by saying, "in the name of the God of Abraham, Mohammed, and JesusÖ"  His prayer was meant to be "all inclusive", still I thought to myself, "what God is this man praying to?"

As a Protestant minister, he should have been praying to the God of the Bible, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul always links God to our Lord Jesus Christ.(e.i. Eph. 1:2. ) Read the opening statements to Paulís letters and you will see this to be true.

So was this Protestant minister praying to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? No! The God of the Bible is not the god of Mohammed. The Muslim god, is not the Christian God.

Today the world has moved towards "inclusive thinking". We want to include everyone in everything. We do this with God as well. We now have an all inclusive, generic god. One god who fits all sizes, shapes, colours and cultures.

When generic food first came to our local grocery store in the 1970ís, they called this food, "no name food". Genericism has now entered the world of religion, as it did in the world of food. The world now has a "generic no name god" Since He has no name, you can worship Him and call Him by any name you choose.

If you have watched any of the award shows on TV in the last few years you will see that many winners thank God for their award. A rap star can win an award for his number one hit single, (with all of its profanity and violence) and still thank God for his award. Is he thanking the God of the Bible? Certainly not! He is thanking this all inclusive generic no name god.

CNNís Larry King interviewed a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim cleric, a New Age teacher, and an Evangelical minister. All except the Evangelical minister were in accordance with one another concerning who God is. All these men claimed to worship the same God, except the Evangelical minister. This Evangelical minister was maligned and ridiculed by the others, including the Catholic priest, for his stand that Jesus was the only way to God. He was branded as being "intolerant". The New Age teacher said something like, "I canít talk to this man any longer (meaning the Evangelical) because he just wants to quote from the Bible and talk about Jesus". You see, the Catholic, the Jew, the Muslim, the New Ager, all believed in the same generic no name god. The Evangelical served a different God. His God was the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a completely different God. Thus the Evangelical minister clearly stood out as being different.

Do you and I stand out as being different like this Evangelical minister? Do we as Christians have a no name generic god? Absolutely not! Our God is a specific God. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot separate Jesus from God. If you do, you are speaking about another god. Jesus told us that He is the only way to God. So in a very real sense, we as Christians are indeed "exclusive", as we are accused of being.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is a stumbling block to those who donít believe. He is still a stumbling block today. In modern words, when we speak of Jesus we are being politically incorrect, exclusive, and intolerant. We run the risk of being branded as a weirdo.

As Christians, it is Jesus who we serve. It is Jesus who appeared in history to bring Salvation to the world. It is Jesus who died, rose and ascended into Heaven and now sits in the place of final authority over all things. The New Testament gospel is all about Jesus, and no one else, all by Godís choice. So why as Christians have we become like the world and speak more of God than Jesus? Are we afraid to mention His name in public? Did a generic god die for us? Did a no name god rise from the dead? Did an all inclusive god rise to supreme Lordship over all things? No!

When we speak of God, we may know what God we are talking about, but does the world know who we speak of. I donít think so. They think in terms of our modern day generic god. This is why we should be speaking about Jesus. The world needs to know about Jesus.

We should remember what my friend Glenn Shaver told us as young Christians. We should put Jesus in the center of all things, including our speech, and let the world think what they may of us.

The reason why Peter and John were put in jail in Acts 3 and 4 was because they linked Jesus with God and proclaimed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ. It was putting Jesus in the center of their lives and speech that got them into trouble with the Sanhedrin. If they had only spoken of God, there would not have been any problem.

Donít get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with speaking of the return of God. But let us not use the word God to the exclusion of Jesus. Wouldnít it be great if the next sermon I heard mentioned Jesus 30 times and God 12 times.

You might be thinking that Iím making a big deal out of words and that I need to spend my time on more practical issues. To me this is more than semantics. It is a matter of our hearts, how we feel towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and how we express Him to others. I want to convey the fact that Jesus is the One I serve. I want to make sure people know that I donít believe in an abstract, impersonal, generic, no name, or all inclusive god. Neither should you. I want them to hear the name of Jesus from my lips.

The question comes down to how we want to represent Jesus to the world. How do we want to proclaim the gospel of Jesus?  Do we want to hide the good news of Jesus by always referring to God, who most people claim believe in anyway, or do we want to preach Jesus? Remember what Peter said in Acts 4:12 (NIV). "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved". You canít get much clearer than these words of Peter. There is no Salvation outside of Jesus.

I appeal to all Christians, including myself, speak freely, openly and often about Jesus, who is our Lord and our Saviour. He is the distinguishing mark that separates us from all other religious people. It is Jesus we love and serve, yet at the same time it is Jesus who is an offense to those who donít believe. This is especially true in todayís world of religious tolerance.

The proclamation of the gospel is all about Jesus and when He is preached and spoken of, you will see this offense in action. Yet at the same time you hold out the only hope for lost people. Let us not follow the way of the world by speaking of a politically correct god. Let us be politically incorrect and speak freely and frequently about Jesus. We may not be all that popular, but we will be Biblically correct as we give witness to Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour .

P.S. Just for curiosity sake, and in case you "might" be interested - if I have counted correctly, which I may not have, I have used God 50 times and Jesus 60 times in this article. You could count for yourself and let me know if I am wrong in my math. Then I would know that I am not the only one with this compulsive disorder.  

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