“We may with complete detachment study and form a judgment upon a religion, but we cannot maintain our detachment if the subject of our inquiry proves to be God Himself. This is, of course, why many otherwise honest intellectual people will construct a neat bypass around the claim of Jesus to be God… There is every excuse for blundering in the dark, but in the light there is no cover from reality. It is because we strongly sense this, and not merely because we feel that the evidence is ancient and scanty, that we shrink from committing ourselves to such a far-reaching belief as that Jesus Christ was really God.”
— J. B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small 
He is, always, the most significant topic of conversation. And unless we believe what Scripture reveals of Jesus, our God is indeed too small!
Coming across the above quotation last week, I thought how close to us here in Oceanside is the situation that the New Testament writers were dealing with. So many in our community, as in 1st century Asia and Europe, reject that Jesus Christ was really God.
I have a close friend who lives in Southern California, where lots of alternative spiritual experiences are on offer.
(It’s actually not that different from some provinces in Canada — there’s just a lot more of it; and, it never snows.)
My friend has no problem seeing Jesus as a superb example of what holy living means.
“He was even vegetarian, and practiced non-violence,” which ices the cake of his sanctification, at least for a modern Californian.
“But Jesus wasn’t God. It’s obvious … God is everywhere! Inside everyone!”
Despite being an intelligent, well-schooled, highly-articulate, published writer, she has fallen into a famous trap. She’s only got part of the Biblical truth, the ‘comfortable’ part, while ignoring a difficult bit!
As a result, serious conversation stumbles: “He’s way too exclusive”; “What about all the other religions?”; “Jesus was a great teacher — like a prophet. There are lots like him, even today!”
These are the sort of objections she raises and I sometimes think we’ll never get to the end of them.
I think J.B. Phillips is right.
My friend, and so very many like her today, sense how complicating and challenging it would be to take on board this vital Christian proclamation: Jesus Christ was, and is today, God Incarnate.
Her many false notions of religion — especially the Christian church — would crumble. Positively, her quest for meaning would have chance of fulfillment and most important, (to me, admittedly), Christianity’s promise of total and eternal forgiveness, won for her by Jesus as God on the Cross, would flood her spirit and her life with light.
To acknowledge Jesus Christ was God, and is now your Saviour, changes our priorities, our affections, and our behaviour.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” (Colossians 1.19)
Guy Bellerby is the Minister at Christ’s