Periodically, I read something that just makes my heart sink. This week, it was an opinion piece in one of our local newspapers.
I want to believe that the author intended something better than came across in his writing, but what I read just left me shaking my head. The author stated that he believes our reason for living is to “live each day creatively, co-operatively and with deep, heart-felt satisfaction.” Now, that doesn’t seem so bad, does it? So why is my heart so sunk?
I believe, with the Christ-followers who crafted the Westminster Confession of Faith, that our reason for living is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That’s what they called “Man’s chief end.” God made us for his pleasure, to praise him and enjoy the riches of his grace. It’s a significant part of what makes the Christian faith unique from other religious or non-religious traditions.
None of this makes sense, however, if we believe the author’s assertion about the nature of God. He refers to God as “our Divine Essence” and Jesus as “a superlative representation of God”. Hmmm…last time I checked, the Bible indicated to us that Jesus IS God! After all, in John 1.1, we read, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NLT). To say that Jesus is “a superlative representation of God” comes close, but it indicates that he’s merely a facsimile – not God in the flesh. And while it is true that Jesus represents God, and is the closest thing to God that we can wrap our finite minds around, to say that he is “a superlative representation” indicates that there might be other representations, and Scripture is pretty clear that Jesus was the only one: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1.15, NIV).
I believe that the church’s downfall won’t come over a moral issue. Churches won’t fall because of how they feel about abortion or same-sex marriage or euthanasia, important as those issues are. The make-or-break issue for the church will be our answer to the question Jesus posed to his followers: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16.15, NIV). If we will not acknowledge Jesus as the unique Saviour of humanity – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16, 16, NIV) – then what distinguishes the church from any other organization? If it’s all about being satisfied and co-operating with other people, why bring God into it in the first place?
But Jesus wasn’t into religion. Jesus was about the kingdom of his Father. And we should be likewise. That means, first, seeing Jesus for who he is.