Have you ever thought about the things Christians proclaim Jesus to be? Then compared those proclamations with the things we say and do? They are often contradictory causing me to wonder about our authenticity as Christians and unawareness of our transparency in the world. It appears we forget or do not care if unbelievers view us as inconsistent or unbelieving. I suppose we could chalk it up to semantics, or simply that we are sinners, saints in progress, or people in need of a Savior. However we need to shake off these rationalizations because the truth has already been established- our Savior has come, we are now saints. It is true we sin, but it is equally true when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just, forgiving our sin and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. We then live in His righteousness, forgiven and free because whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
Take one look at most Christians or the Church in general and ask why there is still so much hurt, pain, and disease when we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Why do we complain our needs are not being met at our churches? Why are we unwilling to spend more time at Church with the body of Christ? Why are Christians not flourishing individually and corporately? Why are we exhausted emotionally and spiritually? Why do we feel depleted and unfulfilled? Why are we always looking for “more” from the Church and others?
I believe the answers lie in the inconsistency between what we know and say about Jesus and how we live which creates issues for us and our testimony of Jesus Christ. Several factors are evident:
- We proclaim Jesus as our all in all but then do not live and speak as though He is “all that” causing people not in relationship with Him to question our belief
Christians know Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and we have EVERYTHING we need in Him this side of heaven. We know He came to give us life and give life more abundantly. We are familiar with Him as our Good Shepherd therefore we want for nothing because of Him. We believe He causes us to lie down in green pastures where there is safety and goodness. We trust Him to lead us beside still waters, restoring our minds, wills, and emotions every day of our lives. We realize and thank Him for dying on the cross to redeem, heal, and forgive us. But are these truths about Jesus the testimony coming out of our mouths on a daily basis? Or do the “facts” of our existence take precedence over the One who gave His very life that we might live victoriously?
- There is an errant belief all our needs are met in Jesus alone, without the unity found in the body of Christ.
The confession of our lips is, “Jesus is my all in all!” or “Jesus is everything I need!” We sing songs with lyrics like: “You’re all I need, everything I’d ever hoped for, I’ve found in You, everything I’ll ever need; You’re all I am, everything I’ve ever hoped to be, I found it all in You;” Or: “You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my all in all.”
We want Jesus to meet our every need, proclaim that He does, then struggle when things do not go as expected. If we say “Jesus is our all in all” would not all our needs be perfectly met by the Good Shepherd who perfectly meets our every need? The truth is He does meet our every need but He does it His way, not our way.
God could meet all our needs, without the cooperation of others, but He chose for us to function in the body of Christ. God will command a blessing where He finds His people dwelling together in unity. He designed the body of Christ to need one another and function together.
- We proclaim Jesus as who we want Him to be, not who He is!
We must consider Jesus as He proclaims Himself not as we perceive or create Him to be in our lives. Jesus does not describe Himself as our all in all in Scripture. He does not say He is all we will ever need. He does describe Himself as many other things in Scripture. For example, in John 15 He reveals Himself as the true Vine and His Father as the Vinedresser, and we must be and abide in Him or else we can do nothing. Elsewhere in the Word He is magnified as the Bright Morning Star, Living Bread, Light of the World, Door of the sheep, Good Shepherd, Son of God, the Resurrection and the Life, Bread of Life, our Shield, the Lord, Almighty God, the Lord who heals, sanctifies, separates us from the people, is gracious, and comforts us. In one book alone He reveals Himself as “I am the Lord” forty four times. His Lordship is preeminent in His description of who He is!
This is how God describes Himself therefore we should be using these same descriptive words and titles in relationship to Him rather than making Him something we want Him to be, our all in all. Jesus IS all in all AND He chooses not to “be” our all in all. He chooses for us to find all we need in Him as the Head AND in the body of Christ. We cannot have all our needs met by Jesus without interacting with the Body of Christ.
Understand me: Jesus is capable of being our all in all – He is all powerful – He can do all things. The key is He chooses to involve us in the process. He chooses to have the Church work with Him in meeting needs. Therefore we need to cooperate and stop demanding Jesus alone meet our needs. When we are IN Jesus, we are IN each other. When we FIND Jesus, we FIND each other. When we are “IN” Christ, we are “IN” His body, we are “IN” the sheepfold, we are “IN” fellowship with God and “IN” fellowship with one another. When we “GET” Jesus, we “GET” one another. When we come to Jesus we do not just get Him, we get the body of Christ; we do not just get His head, we get His body.
Just as the Father and Son are One, we become one in Him. In essence, when we sing “You’re all I need” we are saying we need one another as well. That was the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21-23“…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. May they be one as We are One.”
The inconsistencies in who we know and say Jesus is and how we live our lives will dissolve when we understand and live in the truth God designed relationships therefore we work together to meet needs and to function as a healthy body. Jesus as the head, pastors to lead, people to follow and walk in their gifts. Choosing to bypass pastors or brothers and sisters in lieu of having all our needs met by Jesus alone, is choosing something outside His will. Jesus wants us to be one with each other and with Him and His Father. He does not want to be the only One we need. We need God – We need each other!
The ramifications of us living as He chooses and proclaiming what He proclaims is the world will see us loving as “one” rather than doing our own thing or saying one thing and doing another. The Bible says in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The Greek word for “love” in this context is “agape”. We generally define agape love as the kind God has for us, and use “phileo” to describe brotherly love. However, love in this verse refers to the love Christians have for other Christians. It is the same love we are to express to God Himself. Therefore, in Jesus, who is all in all, we become part of the body of Christ, express agape one to another, and find everything we need together as One in Christ.
So what do you proclaim Jesus to be? What do you call Him? Do you call Him the Christ, the Anointed One? That is what Peter called Him! Do you call Him what He calls Himself? The Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, Lord? Or do you try to make Him your all in all? Do you proclaim He is all you ever need? Let us remember the world is watching. Let us start living, knowing and believing Jesus is who He says He is! Then let us live in His truth, love, and unity so that the world will know Him!