Just why did Jesus become a man?

Here’s an interesting link to a link to a link regarding the above. Please take a look at it, then come back.

I think one of the weaknesses of our late twentieth century evangelicalism is the emphasis on a “personal relationship” with Jesus. Now hold on before you call me a heretic.

The idea of a “personal” relationship with God was all but unknown to the Israelites of the Old Testament. Sure, Abraham and Moses had a friendship with God, but that was the exception, not the rule. (Bunny trail: how many of today’s Christians say that their relationship with God is like a friendship? Not me. In fact, aren’t we encouraged to set aside the “Jesus is my friend” notion as something that is OK for grade school but not as we get older? Maybe we should be rethinking this. But, back to the point.)

It is clear that one of the primary purposes of Jesus on this earth is to emphasize the fatherhood of God. We are to relate to God the Father as his children. And in the upper room, Jesus made the big pronouncement that he is calling his followers his friends. Both positions (child and friend) imply a personal relationship.

However, in our rush to be personal with God, I think we have all but thrown out the relationship that was already established and well-known to the children of Israel: relating to God as his people. The idea so prevalent in the Old Testament is not something I hear much about. However, it is echoed in the New Testament as well.

When the church relates to Jesus as a body does to the head, it’s not in a personal way. That is, a body’s organs do not relate personally or directly with the head; they simply take direction and follow orders. A soldier in an army (another picture of the church) does not personally know the commanding officer. In both scenarios, each member is incomplete (dare I say useless?) without the other members, and all members function as a unit to accomplish the will of their leader. Their identity is found within a larger group.

So we have this dichotomy. I enter into a relationship with Jesus where He calls me friend, and we have love for each other. I also enter into a relationship with other followers, where we band together to accomplish a greater mission than anything I could accomplish alone.

It seems that many of us think of church as a place where we can learn more about our personal relationships with God, rather than as a place where we have a job to do together. Church hopping, a lack of commitment, and a “what’s in it for me” mentality are the result of the over-emphasis on being a child of God, and not spending enough time on being the people of God.

4 thoughts on “Just why did Jesus become a man?”

  1. I’m with you, skip. As I’ve thought more about our culture and what tends to be the dominant, unifying characteristic of our culture, I’ve come to believe that it’s consumerism. (My own little bunny trail: In reality, you could call consumerism merely selfishness and self-absorbtion, which are certainly not merely a contemporary problem, but as old as sin itself — actually, maybe that IS sin. But nonetheless, I think it manifests itself dominantly in our culture as consumerism.) Consumerism demands a selfish, individual, me-first orientation. Could it be that the church and American/Western Christians have been so busy denouncing and trying to avoid other cultural things like inappropriate sex, cursing, music, movies, alcohol, etc. (straining the gnats?) that we have missed the biggie: unchecked, unrestrained consumerism (swallowing the proverbial camel?)? Any wonder consumerism doesn’t just permeate our daily lives, but our outlook and behavior concerning the church as well? Are we merely individuals with individual relationships with Christ seeking to have our individual spiritual needs met, or do we really have a sense of being part of one another and part of Christ’s body here on earth?

  2. … and this is NOT just another weblog — this is the FIRST weblog I’ve ever made a comment on. And I’ve made 2 within a couple minute span…

  3. In regards to skipper’s comment that “It is clear that one of the primary purposes of Jesus on this earth is to emphasize the fatherhood of God. We are to relate to God the Father as his children.” ……

    I wholeheartedly agree. Which is why earthly fatherhood and the way we represent ourselves to our kids is perhaps one of the most effective ministries we can have. I don’t say this lightly. Individuals who were unfortunate to have abusive, overly-critical or unloving fathers, I believe, have ‘one strike against them’ in regards to their own spiritual development. It is only natural to tend towards viewing God (our heavenly Father) and his relationship to us to how our earthly father is/was.

    Once again, another reason I need to make sure I am not hurrying off from my kids at every opportunity. A walk to the pond with one of my boys may be more spiritually effective than anything else (at least at certain times…….I know there needs to be a balance).

  4. I agree with the agreement. We’ve recently had experience with a teen (almost 19) who was raised in a much different, though ostensibly Christian, enviroment and now is in our home.

    Her view of God is, at best, a good-natured jumble, and at worst confused to the point that it’s a series of slogans and feelings that really can’t have an impact on her “actual” life.

    The more she talks about her upbringing, the clearer it becomes that her initial relationship with her less than exemplary Father has clouded her current idea of God.

    While this puts pressure on Christian Fathers, it also gives us one of the greatest opportunities in the world.

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