Listening to God and being in relationship with God through faith in Jesus the Christ are not the same thing – lots of folks in their own faith traditions seek to listen to God, and maybe God even speaks to them in some way. As a disciple of Jesus, I am called to listen to God as revealed in Jesus, who is among other things The Christ.
Faith in “The Christ” disconnected from Jesus is not biblical faith, is not Christianity.
As Disciples, our foundational and core profession/confession of faith is….
drum roll please….
“I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim Him Lord and Savior of the World.” Its called Good News.
Now you might play with the wording a bit, but the gist is pretty much the same, i.e.
My own elaboration…
Christ – the one called, annointed, appointed, sent by God the Father.
Son of God – as participant in the godhead, Jesus the Son bears all the attributes of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and according to John, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews (if not Paul) the fullness of God was in Jesus, which qualifies and enables him to accomplish the work for which He came/was sent
Savior – In the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection Jesus joins humanity and divinity, lives a sinless human life inspite of facing every temptation that humans have or will face, gave his god/man life rather than denying God, became and was received as an attoning sacrifice by the Father, entered into the full restoration of humanity as the risen one and was glorified by the Father (Phil 2)
Lord – He was Lord, and his position was restored by the Father after the death/resurrection event, so that He is Lord over all, and also that as followers of His we give Him preeminence in our lives and recognize and yield our will and desires to His lordship “we are not our own, we were bought with a price.”
Why do we feel it necessary, appropriate, helpful, or whatever, to relinquish the language of Christian Faith to people who can not or will not affirm these essential biblical truths about Jesus? Said folk may be wonderful – some of them are my friends and family – but I reserve the right to argue that they are not Christians if they do not “fix [their] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And, all this brings me to one of my core frustrations as a lifelong Disciple….
Because we are inclined sometimes to be the place where, as folks in the pews and the pulpit may say, “you can believe whatever you want”, how do we then teach. What do we teach? What do we ask, expect children, youth or adults to be able to affirm at their profession of faith for us to be able to affirm for them, “Yes, what you have just articultated is Christian Faith,” versus simply some vague spirituality or belief in God. The God revealed in Scripture is very specific, and self-revelatory very jealous. So, as a teacher in the church, I feel a huge burden to not affirm as Christian Faith that which is not.
I am not here talking about breaking fellowship with folks – Jesus ate with everyone and we should too. At the same time he did not shrink from affirming clearly who God is and to what God calls us. So neither should we.
AND we’ll never be transformed into anything approximating God’s will for us as the mature Body of Christ if we don’t look to Him. After all, isn’t that what Ephesians 4:11-16 is about – and “not being children any more, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” but being mature, growing up in to him who is the head, into Christ.
OK, rant’s over