Christ Jesus (Returning to the Essentials)
“Gentlemen, this is a football.”
I know you probably remember Vince Lombardi saying these words. What memorable words. We still remember them today after all these years, don't we? What comes to your mind if you were one of the professional players to whom Vince Lombardi said that.
Was it humiliating? Maybe.
Sobering? Yes. For sure.
Instead of a football to get my point across, I say “Christians, this is Christ.” Just like those football payers you may be curious: is this really necessary? Picture those Packers' in their locker room, feeling the same way you do. Is it necessary, an emphatic “YES!” Just hearing those words, could feel like the coach just insulted you, even Christians need to be challenged with their beliefs about Jesus Christ, and how they act upon those beliefs.
Jesus himself asked his disciples (who left everything to follow Him), “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). For them and for us, the answer to that question has far greater importance than winning a football game.
Jesus informed professing believers against smug, unchallenged confidence about their relationship with Him. He counseled them to be careful when they claimed that he is their Lord. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus recognizes some who claim his Lordship as authentic, but he knows that others have no clue what Jesus meant. Countless Christians are convinced that they are doing God’s will and that Jesus is their Lord.
From this passage in Matthew 7 we see that professing believers in Jesus are vulnerable to self-deception. More than that, believers are also capable of being deceived by cultural deceptions about Christ. So going back to the absolute essentials, we need to understand who Jesus really is. We all want to be counted among those who respond genuinely to His Lordship.
If we don't know the different the imposter and the real, we'll settle for the impoaster. In 1956, a new game show game on the American television. The show was made up of two groups of people.
One group of four popular celebrities and the second group consisted of three individuals, all claiming the same name. Two were imposters, but one contestant actually belonged to that name. Their goal was to convince the celebrities that they matched the identity of the name. The celebrities interviewed the three contestants trying to pick which one was the real deal.
After the questioning was complete, the host, Bud Collyer, would ask, “Will the real _____ please stand up?” The real one would then stand, many times to the surprise and delight of celebrities and audience. That show was named To Tell the Truth.
So, will the real Jesus please stand up?
"Today’s main imposter of Christianity was identified and studied in 2005 by a team of researchers led by Christian Smith. They named this “mis-begotten stepchild” of the Christian faith Moralistic Therapeutic Deism(MTD) because it aptly described these traits:
1) A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life
2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions
3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself 4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem and 5) Good people go to heaven when they die.”
It seems so clear, doesn't it, that the god of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism(MTD) is not the Jesus of the Bible. If you have a Christian background of any kind you can see that. From observation, it seems many Christians have been affected by these twisted ideas about God, but they don't know it and unaware they are believing a lie.
Richard Ross explains that “Church teenagers don’t have a case of Moral Therapeutic Deism because the pizza got cold. They live with MTD because church adults have a case of MTD.” That's shocking. How can that be?
To put it in a nut shell, remember: "how believers see Jesus affects their response to Him. It affects others, too. How we see Jesus affects homes and churches now, and even alters the nature of faith in following generations." That quote resonates deeply within me and hopefully within you too.
Seeing Jesus again like you've never seen him before is what kept the apostle Paul going, and going, and going, no matter what came against him. Paul’s passion was experiencing “the surpassing glory of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for who I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him . . .” (Philippians 3:8, 9).
Those who see Jesus for more of who he is cannot help but become drawn to pursue him, to know him and share his glory with others at any cost. I thirst and hunger to experience in my life Jesus’ claim – “The words that I speak to you are Spirit and they are life.” Is that your hearts desire too?
Lombardi’s locker room talk brought the Packers’ back, refreshed and restored in their commitment to the fundamentals of football. "They went on to win 5 Championships in a span of 7 years." For the next few months, I will be lifting up Jesus. Paul said, For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Come back and you will be refreshed and restored.
I say, “Christians, this is Christ.”