If I were to say “Jesus was God”…few people within the Christian religion would disagree.
But if I say “Jesus was a man”…there would be this tension in the air…
Maybe you’re feeling it right now. We’d have this almost reflexive desire to quickly affirm, “Yes! But he was also God!” Yes. It’s true. But we don’t always have the same reaction to the first statement– the statement affirming Christ’s divinity. We don’t have the same reflexive desire to shout, “He may be God, but he was also a man!”
It’s safer to affirm Christ’s divinity than his humanity. But following a god is harder than following a man. This was my experience growing up in the church. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. But somehow I was taught to worship Jesus as a god and never taught to admire Jesus as a man. I was told that I needed a savior…
…but often times what I was looking for was a hero.
I was taught that I needed to be saved from my sins, but what I was looking for was a hero for my life. My dad was good. And films helped. I really admired William Wallace. But Jesus wasn’t ever framed for me in a way that allowed him to become my hero, just my savior. Kids who said “Jesus is my hero” were snickered at. “Of course Jesus is your hero…he was GOD.”
The problem with the Jesus as primarily deity is then anytime he does something amazing, anytime he does something inspiring or noble we blame it on the ‘God’ card. We can never do what Jesus did because we’re not God. So why even try?
But the early followers of Jesus did try. Because Jesus was their hero. They looked up to him. They admired him. They wanted to be liked by him and felt the thrill of his affirmation. They enjoyed the moments– short moments– when they acted like him. They didn’t know he was God in the flesh. They were merely hoping he was the messiah. Others had come before, but no one as smart, passionate, funny, compassionate, wise and courageous as Jesus. They thought he was a man among men.
They would later discover that he was God among men.
I wonder if people would be more willing to follow Jesus if they didn’t have to worship him first. If people found Jesus the hero maybe they’d be more willing to worship Jesus as God? Maybe the ‘God’ card has been pounded too hard and the ‘human’ card not hard enough. It’s always a tension, I understand that.
But I was raised to worship Jesus as Savior…
…and I didn’t come alive until he became my hero