My spiritual journey at our church started in 2007, and ever since, my theology and my truths have been put through the Refiner’s fire time and again. I think one of the greatest strengths of our church is that we don’t tell people what to believe and what to think; we don’t judge or condemn people for where they are on their spiritual journey. So, today I want to risk and connect with you by sharing the new places my faith has brought me, and I welcome you to do the same with someone from church!
Recently, the church staff read If the Church Were Christian, by Phillip Gulley. As many of you know from reading Gulley’s books, he can turn your world upside-down and force you to ask very difficult questions, and this book didn’t disappoint! From the first chapter, Gulley dove right in questioning the divinity of Jesus, or more accurately, he questioned the church’s habit of using Jesus’ divinity as the sole foundation of our faith. Frankly, even as I read, I refused to even entertain the notion that Jesus was anything less than the divine Son of God. Then I started writing the script for In Remembrance.
Every year our Good Friday show about the last week of Jesus’ life has focused on a different aspect of the story. This year we present the idea that love can truly overcome anything. Thus our tag-line: “There’s only one love in the end.” For many of us, this is what we have been taught our whole lives, but what does it look like if we actually believe and follow it? What does it look like to live this fully? If we were to do that, we’d find that God’s love for us overcomes everything—war, murder, suicide, depression, loneliness, greed, rape, injustice…everything! (Romans 8:35-39)
Since God’s love overcomes everything, then why do I keep trying to rest the entire basis of my faith on the “bloody sacrifice” of a Man-Who-Was-Also-God? This is a question I have been asking myself ever since reading If the Church Were Christian. My latest epiphany moment came when I realized that while the cross is the supreme act of love, I do not believe it was primarily intended as an act of salvation. I didn’t need to be saved because God’s love had saved me long before the evil in our world put Jesus on that cross.
So if I don’t need to be saved, then I don’t really need Jesus to be divine. He didn’t come to live a life in which he simply rested on his laurels as divine anyway. He wasn’t some sort of Divine trust-fund child. The question of his divinity has always been something his followers cared more about than he did. Now I’m not saying that Jesus is not divine, I’m saying his divinity doesn’t matter, that it’s not the point. Once I gave up my need to live in the shameful shadow of the dead Son of God, I was free to see Christ’s story for what it truly is: a story of life and love! It’s not about Jesus’ divinity, and it’s not about what happens to me once I’m dead. It’s about living a life that counts—a life like Jesus’.
So what would it look like if we all stopped defending doctrines about Christ and lived a life like Christ’s? The answer to this question could change our world! Today I invite each of you to consider what it would mean to live a life filled with Jesus. I invite you to shed shame and live a life of power and integrity like Jesus did. Because, if the Church were Christian we’d all live as Jesus lived!