I came across something in my time with God this morning that stopped me in my tracks. My Jesus might be too small. I’m not talking about the Jesus of the Bible, but the Jesus in my head. This didn’t originate from myself (we seldom rescue ourselves from our own errors) but a little book I’m working through called Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn. It contains short, sharp one-page meditations on applying the simple truths of the gospel to your own life and heart. Here’s what I found in my reading this morning from chapter 7 – JESUS IS BIG:
Take note – your view of Jesus tends to shrink over time. It is not that your theology itself drifts, but sometimes you so focus on one aspect of Jesus that you tend to forget the rest. The result is a shrinking Jesus (in your faith). And as your shrinking Jesus becomes small Jesus, he is easily eclipsed by your idols and ego. The bigger and more biblical your understanding of who Jesus is, the more likely he is to be such an object of love and adoration that the idols that aim at capturing your attention and swaying your allegiance will lose their power.
Ouch. But I know he’s right. For example, Jesus is loving and compassionate. That is true and also wonderful. He cares deeply for my needs and feels my pain. But if that is all he is, he can’t overcome my angry outbursts at my wife when I don’t get what I want or rescue me from my selfish desires for more toys (in my case cool gadgets), nicer clothes and fancy stuff. You see the problem. It’s going to take a bigger Jesus than that to deal with these things. I need a Jesus one who is not only loving, but mighty and powerful to overcome the power of sin in my life. I need a Jesus who is not only compassionate, but strong enough to confront, expose and topple the idols of my heart. I need a Jesus who is not only kind and patient, but one who is zealous for his own glory and who will not tolerate any rivals for his fame.
THAT kind of Jesus will get my attention.
And that’s exactly the kind we find in the Bible. He is the Jesus who in creation called stars and planets into existence. He is the Jesus who for Israel over came great armies of horses and men. He is the Jesus who calms wind and waves and makes the blind see. He is the Jesus who cleanses lepers and sets immoral women free. He is the Jesus who welcomes the humble and rejects the proud; who makes rich men sad and poor men glad. He is the Jesus who will cause great rejoicing for some but terror for others at His coming. He is the Jesus who has control of every molecule and atom, every unplanned event and every human soul. And He is the Jesus that does not stoop to my will and command, but I stoop to His.
THAT kind of Jesus is worth worshipping. Joe Thorn goes on to write in his meditation,
This is probably why the church is shrinking in North America – because small Jesus does not inspire awe, command respect, lead to worship, or compel us to talk of him (much less suffer for him). And small Jesus is too little to arrest the attention of the world.
If we want to make any headway spiritually, if are going to overcome the idols of our heart, and if we have any hope of drawing the attention of the world, we need a bigger Jesus.
One that not only comforts and consoles us, but leaves us gaping in awe.