A Jesus Manifesto

This morning, I read A Jesus Manifesto.  Wow!  It just blew me away.  It synopsizes truth.  I was a little bothered by the plug for certain books that came at the end, but, ultimately, the manifesto makes many of the thoughts I have been having quite clear.  For instance:

It is possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ . . . who is the embodiment and incarnation of all spiritual truth, values, virtues, and gifts.

Seek a truth, a value, a virtue, or a spiritual gift, and you have obtained something dead.

Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his teachings. Aristotle says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha says to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius says to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” Muhammad says to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.” Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me.” In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One. Christ is the incarnation of the Kingdom of God and the Sermon on the Mount.

Being a follower of Jesus does not involve imitation so much as it does implantation and impartation. Incarnation–the notion that God connects to us in baby form and human touch—is the most shocking doctrine of the Christian religion. The incarnation is both once-and-for-all and ongoing, as the One ―who was and is to come now is and lives his resurrection life in and through us. Incarnation doesn’t just apply to Jesus; it applies to every one of us. Of course, not in the same sacramental way. But close. We have been given God’s “Spirit” which makes Christ “real” in our lives. We have been made, as Peter puts it, “partakers of the divine nature.” How, then, in the face of so great a truth can we ask for toys and trinkets? How can we lust after lesser gifts and itch for religious and spiritual thingys? We’ve been touched from on high by the fires of the Almighty and given divine life. A life that has passed through death – the very resurrection life of the Son of God himself. How can we not be fired up?
To put it in a question: What was the engine, or the accelerator, of the Lord’s amazing life? What was the taproot or the headwaters of his outward behavior? It was this: Jesus lived by an indwelling Father. After his resurrection, the passage has now moved. What God the Father was to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is to you and to me. He’s our indwelling Presence, and we share in the life of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father. There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus and learning how to impart an implanted Christ. The former only ends up in failure and frustration. The latter is the gateway to life and joy in our daying and our dying. We stand with Paul: “Christ lives in me.” Our life is Christ. In him do we live, breathe, and have our being. “What would Jesus do?” is not Christianity. Christianity asks: “What is Christ doing through me … through us? And how is Jesus doing it?” Following Jesus means ―trust and obey (respond), and living by his indwelling life through the power of the Spirit.

Jesus Christ was not a social activist nor a moral philosopher. To pitch him that way is to drain his glory and dilute his excellence. Justice apart from Christ is a dead thing. The only battering ram that can storm the gates of hell is not the cry of Justice, but the name of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of Justice, Peace, Holiness, Righteousness. He is the sum of all spiritual things, the “strange attractor” of the cosmos. When Jesus becomes an abstraction, faith loses its reproductive power. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.

It is possible to confuse an academic knowledge or theology about Jesus with a personal knowledge of the living Christ himself. These two stand as far apart as do the hundred thousand million galaxies. The fullness of Christ can never be accessed through the frontal lobe alone. Christian faith claims to be rational, but also to reach out to touch ultimate mysteries. The cure for a big head is a big heart.
Jesus does not leave his disciples with CliffsNotes for a systematic theology. He leaves his disciples with breath and body.
Jesus does not leave his disciples with a coherent and clear belief system by which to love God and others. Jesus gives his disciples wounds to touch and hands to heal.
Jesus does not leave his disciples with intellectual belief or a “Christian worldview.” He leaves his disciples with a relational faith.
Christians don’t follow a book. Christians follow a person, and this library of divinely inspired books we call “The Holy Bible” best help us follow that person. The Written Word is a map that leads us to The Living Word. Or as Jesus himself put it, “All Scripture testifies of me.” The Bible is not the destination; it’s a compass that points to Christ, heaven’s North Star.
The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living. The “good news” was not a new set of laws, or a new set of ethical injunctions, or a new and better PLAN. The “good news” was the story of a person’s life, as reflected in The Apostle’s Creed. The Mystery of Faith proclaims this narrative: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success . . . not wealth or health or anything else: but love. And God is love.

Okay, so I quoted alot of it.  I really found it profound.  It spoke to me.  Read it.  Maybe it will speak to you.

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3 Comments

Filed under Bible, Books

3 responses to “A Jesus Manifesto

  1. I’m almost glad you quit both your jobs so you can blog all these encouraging posts:) Loved the quote “There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus and learning how to impart an implanted Christ.” Thanks for sharing!

    • Terri,

      Amen. If I had to choose just one sentence as my favorite it would be either that one or “Justice apart from Christ is a dead thing.” Honestly, I think the sentence you picked is a better favorite for general application. I think the statement about justice is especially applicable since justice is what I invested the last 11 years of my life in. Only to learn that what I was pursuing is dead.

      Peace,

      Don

  2. David Miser

    Yet, go to any Christian Church, listen to the sermons of the pastor carefully and note how many times he mentions Jesus! No I am not talking about a numbers game, but if any message does not start, end and in between focus on Jesus, how does that teaching draw us any closer to Christ? Let me give you an example of what I mean:

    A Pastor wanted his people to learn to praise Jesus, to worship Him with passion. He called in a man from Africa where the people really knew how to worship Jesus. For a couple of weeks, every night, the guest minister taught his congregation, with not one word about praise or worship ever being mentioned. Every message was focused solely on introducing the people to Jesus. The pastor was disappointed, because he brought the man in to teach his flock about worship. The next Sunday as the pastor sat on the platform, the people broke out in mighty praise without anyone leading them, it was an incredible worship service. The pastor was amazed and delighted. You see, if people are taught about Jesus, if He is the focus of every message, the people will rise up in the Spirit of Christ and you will see Jesus in them.

    The Bible tells us, He is in all things to have absolute Supremacy, to be preeminent, to be everything from Alpha to Omega, from the beginning to the end, from the first to the last. I think that means in every sermon, every teaching, Sunday School, worship service. So, it isn’t about the numbers of times Jesus is mentioned, but whether is His Name often mentioned in every message, because He is supposed to be the central character in every lesson. Just listen to your pastor’s next message, if Jesus isn’t liberally mentioned, if Jesus isn’t the goal, the way to achieve that goal and if the message is not made manifest in Him, maybe you need to encourage your pators to mention Jesus more.

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