About Jesus Steve Sweetman
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?
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
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
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
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