William J. Stewart | Do You Really Know Jesus?
According to The World Factbook1, one third of the world’s population (2.4 billion people) identify themselves as Christian. This includes everyone from those who are Christian in name only to those who might be viewed by others as fanatical. For the former, the idea of knowing Jesus may be far fetched—how can you really get to know a man who lived almost 2,000 years ago? However, for many in Christendom, getting to know Jesus better is a daily pursuit.
I appreciate those who seek an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Getting to know Him is not the same as getting to know other prominent figures from history. We can study and learn facts about people like Laura Secord, Sir John A. MacDonald, Alexander Graham Bell, etc., but we cannot really know them— it is not possible to have a relationship with them. They are all dead and buried. Jesus is different. Peter spoke to the crowd at Pentecost about the Lord in this way:
Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. (Acts 2:23-24)
Jesus is alive! Knowing facts about Him is not enough. The Bible tells us that we need to know Him, not know about Him (Philippians 3:10). We are called to follow Him (Matthew 28:19). We are to imitate His character (Philippians 2:1-8). He wants us to be fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). All of this requires that we know Him and are known by Him.
It is not uncommon to hear some speak about their “personal relationship with Jesus.” As spiritual as that sounds, those who use such language generally have created their own concept of Jesus, something very different from the Jesus we read of in the Bible. Some have created for themselves an accommodative Jesus, who desires and approves the same things they do.
Several years ago, a young couple visited our assembly a few times. In a conversation with them, they asked why we have no instrumental music in our worship. We spoke of the nature of authority, and of the need to respect God’s silence. As we look into the New Testament, we see nine times where worship in song is discussed, and each time, we’re told to sing. Not once are we told to play an instrument. Seeking to do God’s will and not our own, we refrain from using instruments in our worship. They didn’t like what they heard. The young man bluntly told me,
My Jesus wants me to use my musical talent to praise Him.
He didn’t tell me what the Jesus of the Bible wants—he told me what he wanted. But, unable to support his desire for instrumental music in worship from Scripture, he conveniently created a Jesus in his own mind who desires exactly what he wants.
For many, the authority of God’s word takes a back seat to personal preference. But, so we don’t sound selfish, let’s invoke Jesus’ name on our whims, whatever they might be. But what do we do if my Jesus and your Jesus don’t agree? We just go our separate ways so we can serve ourselves (uh, I mean God) in the way we (uh, I mean Jesus) wants us to. When people follow what their manufactured Jesus will approve, division is sure to come.
A “my Jesus” theology is contrary to the idea of truth. Jesus, in prayer to the Father said,
Sanctify them by Your word. Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
A “my Jesus” theology creates confusion. We have 1000s of different churches all teaching different doctrines. Jesus is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Jesus prayed for the unity of those who believe in Him (John 17:20-21). That unity is supposed to be an evidence to the world, so that they too might believe. I wonder how many people have been discouraged from seeking Christ because they have witnessed the selfishness and division of the “my Jesus” theology? God’s will is that we all speak the same thing and have the same mind (1 Corinthians 1:10). That will not happen if people seek their own will and not the will of God.
Friend, let us seek to know Jesus Christ. To have a relationship with Him as our Saviour and Mediator before God. He wants us to know Him, and He wants to save us from sin and preserve us in heaven. For us to know Him, we need to know His word and to serve Him we need to walk in His way, not our own (Colossians 3:15-17).