Are you a follower of Jesus or a worshipper of Christ? This is the question at the heart of the book I was asked to bring to the Oakwood book club in June; Saving Jesus from the Church by Robin Meyers.
I wonder, how you would answer that question?
We have examples of those who followed Jesus, we know them as the disciples and the women who went with him, listened to him, tried to understand his parables which are analogies drawn from the life he saw around them to help them understand more of God. Peter and John, Mary and Martha, Philip and Lazarus all recognised something in Jesus that made them want to draw closer to him and to follow the way of life that he was setting out. Throughout the ages, people have continued to want to do that. There’s something in what this carpenter turned teacher says that attracts. His vision of a world where the excluded are welcomed, kindness and generosity are valued more than wealth and possessions, truth is spoken to those who abuse their power, all this continues to attract people to follow Jesus. Some hold these things to be important without calling themselves Christians. Jesus speaks to many beyond the church- Mahatma Gandhi is a very famous example of that.
Christians also gather to worship; Meyers asks us the question “do we worship Christ?” The lyrics of modern worship songs often place Christ at the centre of everything. And some of them are great.
But Jesus always points to God whom he seems to have understood as father, mother, creator, provider, judge, mercy giver. If we’re followers of Jesus, we worship God. Jesus helps us to see, experience, and recognise some of what God is but God is more than Jesus. As I write this we’ve just marked Trinity Sunday. Human beings have the gift of language. Theologians use words to try to explain the mystery of God. In some ways, that is helpful, it can expand our understanding and give expression to our experience. In other ways, language can be limiting. Words have meanings and can seem to exclude other interpretations. The Trinity talks Father, Son Holy Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. These hold some of the truth about God but by no means all of it. It is as we follow Jesus that we come to know more of the God who is the reference point for all Jesus’s teaching and actions.
For myself, I would answer Robin Meyers question by saying ‘With the grace of the Holy Spirit I try to follow Jesus and worship the God who I see reflected in the life of Jesus and in the creation around me.’
Oakwood Book group will resume on September 19th when the session will be led by Rev Dr. George Bailey and the book is Biblical Authority After Babel by Kevin J. Vanhoozer
As usual, we will be in Oakwood church, starting at 7.30pm.