I began a two-part series on The God that we Judge with a little introduction. In reading and listening to people who judge “the God of the Old Testament” (or, more universally, “the God of the Bible”), I am shocked at how little understanding most people have about what they are judging and rejecting. My goal is to provide a little context and understanding, albeit it is very little.
For starters, the biblical narrative is the story of an infinite God revealing Himself to His finite, limited creation. That creation (humankind) has capacity to learn and to understand, but the limits in knowledge, experience, understanding, perspective, etc. must be overcome. The revelation is progressive, little by little over a long period of time. That perspective and understanding is developed through one people group that God tries to work with to a point when, at that right time, God introduces Himself into the creation/story in human form – Jesus.
Many of the people who judge “the God of the Old Testament” consider Jesus to be a wise man, like Ghandi. Jesus is the universal religious figure. All religions claim Jesus and acknowledge him, but many of them don’t consider Jesus to be God. Many people believe Jesus was just a wise man. Many people also believe Jesus to be very different than the God of the Old Testament. And that is where I will start in this second half of this two-part series.
I became a believer, and then a follower, of Jesus Christ in college. It wasn’t just academic for me, though the beginning of my life as a believer and follower of Jesus began in an academic environment and was shaped and influenced by academics. I think that’s why I like the academic pursuit of faith even now, over 30 years later.
It’s important for me to be mindful that faith is not purely an intellectual affair. I think I may differ from many people in that respect, but I need to constantly be reminded of it. Faith is a relationship with the Living God; faith is a life and heart commitment; faith triggers action and change or it isn’t real faith.
I know that the words intellectual and faith probably don’t fit together in the minds of some people. Some people see those terms as opposites. They aren’t, but they can chaff with each other at times. Intellectualism, for instance, really does get in the way of faith (more so in fact than the other way around). Faith and intellectual pursuit can be perfectly compatible unless we compartmentalize them and pit them against each other.
I started on a journey to “truth” when I was in high school that continued into college. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I was confident truth could be known. I didn’t know where I would find it, but I sensed intuitively that truth was accessible and all around us. I looked anywhere and everywhere, in all the writers, thinkers, philosophers and, last of all, religious leaders that seemed to speak confidently on the subject.
I found what I was looking for. Whether it is, “The Truth” will only be confirmed in the hereafter, but I know this for a certainty: that the inner hunger and drive that I had when I was younger was met when I encountered Jesus Christ!
I have heard it said that Jesus never actually called Himself God. Even if the Gospels recorded those exact words in Jesus’s mouth, I believe many would find ways of discounting what He said. It was no different in Jesus’s day.
Jesus did not say, “I am God” in those exact words, but what he did say could not have been misunderstood by his audience. Jesus made many statements, but one in particular strikes me as the most significant. Before I get to that one statement, a little background is helpful. Continue reading “Jesus Is”→