Someone recently asked me why I am a Christian (given some of the terrible things said and done in the name of Christianity). For some time, my answer’s been the same: I am still a Christian because of Jesus. I suppose for me it’s very similar to the legend of how the great 20th-century theologian Karl Barth answered when asked about the most profound theological truth he ever learned. Barth said purportedly, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
This answer is simple but not simplistic; childlike but not childish. The idea behind it is that whatever we call Christianity or Christian ought to be conformed to the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the True North of the faith – we set our GPS system by him. If we discover something in our character, relationships, or ecclesiastical life that doesn’t conform to Christ, we are in error and we must course correct before we lose our way entirely.
I am a Christian because of Jesus.
My understanding of the Church’s life and my own Christian identity arise out of a passage of scripture – John 13.1-35. On the last night of his earthly life, Jesus wanted his disciples to remember him and his mission so that they could carry it forward after his death. He invited them to his Last Supper – the betrayer, the denier, and all who would abandon him soon – and broke bread with them. He took the job of the lowest servant in the house and though being their leader, washed their feet. He gave them a new commandment to “love one another.”
This passage shapes the vision statement I have for Christian life and ministry. Christians are called and equipped to be a TABLE & TOWEL community marked by:
+ Contagious Love: our love for God, neighbors, enemies, & one another marks the followers of Jesus.
+ Radical Hospitality: all are welcomed & received by the community as if they were Jesus.
+ Sacrificial Servanthood: to lead means to take up the towel & serve others like Jesus.
I’ll say more about this in subsequent blogs. I leave you to ponder this question:
What things in your life and/or your church need to be more conformed to Jesus?
Grace & Peace,