Lately I have returned to the “Red Letters”. I confess that for years now I had been concentrating mostly on other parts of the Bible. I was interested in reading about Jesus but was, in the process, neglectful of Him! Colossians 1 describes Jesus as the very centre of everything on earth. Revelation portrays Him as the centre of all in Heaven and for eternity. This is a person we should truly get to know, not just know about! I will be eternally grateful for what He has done for me but He is calling me to much more, and much deeper than this. He challenges me to move beyond being blessed acquaintance, to the place where I am a friend.
I learned the stories of Jesus at Sunday School and when I read them I was not paying close attention. In my head I was saying “Yeah, yeah, I know this.” When I would read Christian books and the author would quote Jesus, I would frequently scan past it to get back to what the human author had to say. By maintaining this attitude I ensured that my relationship (read friendship) with Jesus could not progress, as it should. In doing so I was, in some ways, letting a “Sunday School” caricature suffice as my chief image of Him. I want to be clear that I have been well taught and my image of Jesus was true, but limited.
The challenge for a Christian is to continue “getting to know “ Jesus. We do this in the same way we nurture other friendships. We listen to Him! Not long ago I had an accident and I have lost some hearing but my children will tell you my real hearing problem comes with an uncanny ability to tune out what I am not listening for. This may be an attribute if I am watching hockey in room full of those who could care less about the outcome, but it does not help build relationships. What I do in physical realm I often duplicate in my spiritual life. I only hear what I am listening for! So I have decided to be intentionally focused on the words of Jesus.
Along with this concentration on the words of Jesus I have been reading: Re:Jesus by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, Jesus the Fool by Michael Frost, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, and Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. These are all books which challenge me to take a fresh grown up look at Jesus and discover again, for the first time this complex and simple Lord who stands at the very centre of all creation.
I highly recommend this exercise. I believe that we can take Jesus at His word “If I be lifted up, I will draw all people unto me.” The proclamation of Jesus is not the Good News, Jesus himself is the Good News. Our mission and our Christian unity hinge on our personal knowledge of Him and our obedience to Him.