Imaginary Jesus

“We can’t know Jesus apart from the Bible because, as Jesus himself says, the Bible always and on every page testifies to him. Any other “Jesus” is just a Jesus of our own imagining.” -Barry Cooper

 

I’m currently reading a book called “Can I really trust the Bible?” In it, Barry Cooper talks about the difference between the word (the bible) and the Word (Jesus). He points out that the religious or spiritual people of Jesus’ day wanted the word but not the Word. And how today we seem to want the Word but not the word. Hang with me here, I know this sounds a little confusing but the point he’s trying to make is extremely important.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders spent their entire lives studying the bible. Yet, despite being in the word of God their entire lives, they never actually met God. They studied the scriptures day in and day out, increasing in knowledge but never in love. They turned God’s word into a profession instead of a relationship. Fast forward 2000 plus years and we seem to have flip-flopped. We want the Word, but not the word. We want God’s grace, mercy, and love, but have no time for his word. Which begs the question, if we are not reading the bible then are we really following a biblical Jesus? Or are we worshipping our own imaginary Jesus. I fear many are worshiping a false Jesus, a Jesus made of good intentions instead of biblical truth. We have to make it a point to dive into God’s word in order to truly know the Word.

Jesus shows us the importance of the word of God while being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Jesus says, “It is written,” indicating his knowledge of the written word of God. Another interesting point in Matthew and the temptation of Jesus is the fact that the devil tried to use scripture against Jesus. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11,12 trying to tempt Jesus into sin. I believe this is one of the most important reasons we must study God’s word. The enemy has proven that he knows the scriptures. He knows the scriptures well enough to quote them to us in an effort to make us stumble. As Christians, we must be prepared to do spiritual battle with the enemy just as Jesus was in the book of Matthew. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor we are to wear in this battle, and the only offence we have against the enemy is the word of God.

In Ephesians, the word of God is called “the sword of the Spirit”. If I am going to battle with a sword, I want to make sure I know how to use it before I am thrown out onto the battle field. Much like a knight would spend time training with his sword, we must spend time training with ours.

If you are a Christian and reading the bible is not part of your regular routine, I highly encourage you to do so. At first, some of the scriptures may prove difficult, just as it would prove difficult to weld a sword for the first time. Don’t let this discourage you. With time, and help from the Holy Spirit, you will grow in your knowledge of the word and your skill with God’s sword.

 

 

 

 

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Cracker Jack

This morning I was in the gym (killing it #humblebrag) and this thought kept popping into my head, “crackerjack clean”. It just kept repeating itself in my mind, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean. I thought on it and what it meant. It just kept going over and over again, crackerjack clean, to the point I was starting to get annoyed. After returning home and getting my son to school, I started looking through old notes, googling the phrase, and after a few minutes I found it. A quote in one of my study bibles by Chuck Swindoll, a former Marine.

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with every day need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just crackerjack clean living. Just honest-to-goodness, bone-deep, nonhypocritical integrity. Authentic obedience to God.” -Chuck Swindoll

Chuck was talking in reference to David in 1 Samuel 24:1-7 when he found King Saul, who was trying to kill David, a little exposed. David had the opportunity to take King Saul out, but chose not too. Why? King Saul was God’s anointed one. David stood for a righteous principle. He stood for God, and he was obedient.

For me, this quote by Chuck means something else. It means I need to adjust my life. It means I need to remove every stumbling block in my life that may cause another brother or sister to stumble or hinder a nonbeliever from coming to Christ. It means living a “crackerjack clean” lifestyle. A living sacrifice.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:13 NIV, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall in sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” That’s pretty intense! Paul is saying that if by him eating meat it causes a brother or sister to stumble or fall away from Christ, he would stop eating meat altogether! But maybe today, for us, it’s not meat, maybe it’s a beer or a glass of wine. Maybe it’s encouraging gossip or slandering someone. In reality, it’s ANYTHING that would cause a brother or sister to stumble.

We have been called, by God Himself, to point others to Jesus Christ. An anything that would hinder that needs to be eliminated from our lives. Crackerjack clean.