A More Christlike God


Last week, I made an audacious claim that if your picture of God doesn't look like Jesus, it's not God.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I need to qualify this claim in more than one way.


Luke 16:23-33 talks about a great judgement where all people find themselves standing before Christ. But it's an upside down judgement, because many of those who thought they were on the inside because of their religious efforts and beliefs find they are on the outside. Likewise, many who thought they were on the outside because of their religion and beliefs find they were on the inside the whole time. Interestingly, the practices of both the religious people who are condemned and the irreligious people who are saved are pointed out. But it's not the practices themselves which save. It's the relational aspect that those practices had to Jesus. For the religious people in the story, their practices were self-serving. In contrast, the irreligious people were self-sacrificing for the sake of Christ, even though they didn't know it.

And that brings me to the very exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way. What Luke 16 shows us is that Jesus is not just a particular person from a particular time, but a universal presence. Ephesians 4:10 puts it this way: Jesus is filling the whole universe. Therefore, any picture of God that looks like Jesus is a more accurate portrait of God than those which portray God in other ways.

Religion that is true and pure will always look suspiciously Christlike: loving where there is hatred, compassionate in the face of persecution, and intolerant of intolerance. It fulfills moral obligations not as a means of salvation but as a result of salvation.

You may not be a Christian,  and you may even think that Christianity is a farce. And to some extent, you're right because all religion is a farce to the extent that obedience to its rules are the means of your salvation.

The thing I want to underline is that only a few can reach salvation (no matter how you define it) apart from religious and legal obligations of the world, and thus find some sort of inner transformation. But only Christianity offers salvation explicitly apart from any legal or religious obligations. Chances are, whether you have religion or no religion, you will be let down by your own personal moral code, buried under the heavy weight of conservative morality or tossed around by the shifting seas of liberal morality. Christianity, and Jesus in particular, is therefore the best way to be saved from whatever it is you need saving from. You don't need to perform or prove yourself to Jesus. You are already accepted. The only thing that needs to be done is to receive the gift being offered.

What I have found in my own life, and what I keep reading and hearing from a multitude of people is that Jesus is like a solid rock face on which we can stand and face the gale force winds of life. Jesus doesn't stop life from happening, but he provides a new way for us to experience everything. It's admittedly difficult to explain using metaphors, because the reality of Jesus' presence in my life has been nothing short of transformative. Everything else I have put my trust in has eventually revealed itself to be shifting sand. Jesus has revealed himself to be utterly dependable.

1 comments:


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