Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stop Worshiping Jesus?

In his book If The Church Were Christian, author Phil Gulley suggests that the church should worship Jesus less and follow his example more. By "worship," Gulley seems to mean the general practice of the Christian church of putting Jesus on a pedestal and essentially equating him with God.

While I'm not sold on this theologically, I arrive at the same conclusion as Gulley. Essentially, he makes the point that because of our reverence for Jesus as divine, we dismiss his life as impossible for us to follow, thereby excusing ourselves for falling short of what Jesus lived and taught. Inherent in this discussion is what exactly it means that Jesus [according to traditional Christianity] was both fully human and fully divine. That is, was Jesus simply God with skin on, able to live and act with his own internal God-power? Or, was Jesus so human that he relied totally on God, depending on God's power completely [as we mere humans do]?

For a long time, I thought that Jesus was so God that he was Supreme Power in a human shell. He could do what he wanted when he wanted. However, the more I read the gospels, and the more I think about what it means to be human, the more I believe Jesus was just as human as me, and was, in fact, completely reliant upon God's power to do the things he did.

What does this mean for me? I think, quite simply, that I can live as Jesus lived. Can I perform the miracles that he performed? I don't know [although I know I'm certainly not at that point yet, if I ever will be]. At the very least, though, I have no excuse for dismissing his compassion, love, and concern for others. I can approach others with the same grace and acceptance as Jesus. I can begin by following his example of affirmation, love, and hope.

And this is the point Gulley makes in his book. The conclusion he gets to is that we should stop treating Jesus as God, and start treating him as our supreme example. I don't intend to stop worshiping Jesus, but neither can I let myself off the hook for not following the example of Jesus in the Bible, living out his same love, charity, and compassion, and encouraging others to do the same.

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