The Intellectual Jesus

Every once in a while the TV stations run a special on "The Historical Jesus" (i.e. Jesus, according to everyone but the Gospel writers). You've got these reporters and historians trying to recreate the image of Jesus into something new and exciting, but most importantly, something different than who He truly was. They don't want to believe in the Biblical Jesus. They want a prophet or a political rebel or Mr. Nice Guy, but that's about it. Of course, C.S. Lewis helped us get past all those ridiculous options in Mere Christianity.

But what i want to share here has nothing to do with this. Jesus has blindsided me with a comforting, yet challenging truth that has given new life to the way i relate to Him.

A couple of nights ago, i called my friend Kelly in Dallas, TX to catch up on lost time. Kelly and i roomed together in an apartment just off the campus of Southwest Baptist University my junior year of college. We rocked the house with P.O.D., Project86, Zao, Living Sacrifice, MxPx, and most definitely lots of Five Iron Frenzy. He was more into rap, so i had to endure the likes of John Rueben and the Grits... Ok, so they're not so bad. :)

He was the type of guy that would stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning, listening to music, surfing the net, or working on a computer program for his latest video game idea. He was also the type to take a full load of classes, a part-time job, plus a head youth ministry position at a church, in Springfield no less (30 min. away from Bolivar). We moshed together at concerts, and met weekly for accountability with our other great friend, Jimmy.

And then, one day, we all graduated and moved to different ends of the earth. Well, Jimmy moved to Colorado, Kelly to Texas, and Melissa and i to Springfield. Things are going well for Jimmy out there and Kelly down there.

Kelly just landed a fat, new job, and has gotten involved in vibrant Church, and with a group of guys who are just crazy about Jesus. They said he fits into their ministry "like a piece to the puzzle." Before i hung up the phone, i wanted to know how i could pray for my brother... i genuinely planned on praying for him! And he said, "Pray that i don't lose my dependence on Christ. Things are going so well for me now, i just don't want to miss out on the intimacy i had with Him when i was leaning so hard on Him to get me through the uncertainties."

And that's when it hit me. It wasn't so much what he said, but how he said it. You know those people who say all the right things, but it makes your skin crawl? Well if there's an opposite to that, Kelly is it. The tone of his voice said loud and clear that Kelly is in love with His Savior. Years and years after meeting Christ for the first time, after that initial romance, His heart still burns for Jesus like it did then. He's had ups and downs, but as long as i can remember, Kelly's love for Christ has been passionate, pure, and simple.

Simple. You know, there's nothing very simple about living the Christ life. I don't care if He IS living it through me (OK, i do CARE. You know what i mean!) ... it's still not easy. There's nothing simple about ministry, especially church planting. There's nothing simple about theology or studying the Word. There's hardly anything simple about "going to church" anymore, at least for me. Everything's become so complicated... so "serious"... so "grave".

When i hung up the phone, i was nearly in tears. I remembered back when i would talk his ear off with all my theological ponderings and critical theories. He would usually give me a run for my money, but eventually, he always had the same answer. "You just gotta believe. That's faith, man." And it wasn't some kind of excuse. It was the way he lived his life. By faith.

In all of the theories and theology and controversies surrounding the Christian faith, the "historical Jesus", and the Jesus of today (the Church), we have to come to a place of rest every once in a while... probably more often than that. I admire the simplicity and authenticity of Kelly's love for Jesus. He just loves Him, and he wants everyone to know it, no matter how it may sound to them. He doesn't wrap it up in a neat, pre-planned package. He doesn't do it in 7 steps. He breathes Jesus, eats Jesus, emits Jesus.

I want to find that place again in my own heart and mind. I want to find that pure, simple love for Christ that keeps me singing His praise all day long. I want to drop the theological constructs and embrace the Man of Jesus, to embrace Him as i do my bride. I want to stop talking about Jesus as if He is some new idea to be learned, or some new strategy to be implemented, or some cute metaphor to impress people with. I want to stop getting off (forgive my crudeness) on the clever articulation of my observations about Him and His Church.

I want to crucify the vanity and the quaintness and the brilliance and the cleverness and all of MYSELF that i insert into my conversation about Him, whether verbal or nonverbal. I don't want people to see me and say, "Gee, he sure has a lot of good ideas about Jesus." I want people to look at me and say, "Wow. There's something different about that guy. I can't put my finger on it, but when i'm around him, i sense the presence of God." I want people to be able to say that when they walked beside me, it was like walking beside Jesus.

I love you, Jesus.
You're amazing.
You're lovely.
You're worthy.
You're holy.
You're the best friend a man could ever have.
You're the most faithful lover the world has ever seen.
You taste better than all the world's richest fare.
You are good.
You are so good.


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