Tuesday, September 09, 2008



For years I've held this myth up as a standard for those who believe. This myth is so embedded within Christianity. This has become the benchmark for whether or not a person is a true believer.

The primary damage of this myth is that it has become a doctrinal standard or proof of doctrinal purity. If you don't believe Jesus is the Son of God, you are disqualified to even play the spiritual game.

By the way, one other point of damage is that when you embrace this myth that you cannot follow Jesus unless you believe He is the Son of God, you can so easily shut the door of the Kingdom to those who are interested.

Now, in debunking this myth I want to direct your attention again to the early disciples. When they first answered the call to follow Jesus, did they believe that Jesus was the Son of God? No!

They believed Jesus was the latest and greatest Rabbi on the religious scene. They believed Jesus was an amazing teacher and example. They believed He was able to perform miracles and heal people. They were highly responsive to Him, because He picked them out of a crowd and showed them some affirmation and attention. They weren't even very strong believers in Him at first either. They believed Jesus enough to attach their hopes to Him.

When you finally accept the fact that the early disciples weren't believers and didn't yet believe that Jesus was the Son of God, you step across a great threshold of truth. You see, there are lots of people that you know that are just where the disciples were in the beginning. They are curious, fascinated, impressed and interested in this Jesus. When I tell an interested agnostic that he is exactly like the early disciples of Jesus, he or she is taken back.

In Matthew 16, Jesus has a fascinating encounter and interchange with the disciples: When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

The disciples have been following this attractive, irresistible and relevant Jesus for quite some time and now the question comes from Jesus: "Who do you say I am?" Peter's answer was right on when he said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." This is the first time this has been expressed with a sense of conviction by the disciples. The thought was there, but this seems to nail it down. We believe Jesus is God's Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Now note Jesus' reply to Peter's answer. He first says, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah." Jesus strokes Peter for expressing the right answer to the question. But before Peter gets too puffed up for coming up with this great answer, Jesus quickly says, "This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood." He is saying, "Peter, you didn't think this up on your own and no one taught you this truth." You see, we continue to rely on teaching our people a set of doctrines or beliefs, thinking this teaching will somehow be sufficient to establish and maintain a vital relationship with God.

Jesus goes on to explain, "But by my Father in heaven" revealed this to you. "Peter, my Father gave you this great insight that I am indeed the Son of God." This is still the plan of operation today. The Father transformed the hearts and minds of the disciples, because they have been following Jesus for a long time.

In II Timothy 2, Paul counsels Timothy: Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. Note that you don't get a heart for change or a transformation of heart and mind by any human methodology. Genuine transformation will only come as a gift from God-"in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses." God will grant this transformation to all who are interested enough to have ears to hear and eyes to see. It's a gift from God.

There seem to be three stages of following Jesus. FIRST-Jesus is followed because He is so flawless and attractive-unimpeachable. He is the one person who has truly walked the walk and the talk perfectly. No one argues with this. And the disciples believed in Him enough to follow Him. There is nothing wrong with this type of following Jesus at all.

SECOND-Then as you follow this attractive Jesus, you will begin to embrace His lifestyle, teachings and principles and find them to be very practical and meaningful for your life. Following this Jesus just makes sense.

THIRD-Finally, as you continue to follow this Jesus and find His teachings meaningful, you will at some point discover your Creator-God. You will experience transformation of your heart and your mind and see Jesus as the Son of God.

So, wherever you are in this continuum of the stages in following Jesus, ultimately you are seeking and hoping to receive this gift of transformation from God Himself. When you understand this, you then can embrace the fact of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Agnostics, Muslims and even Christians who are followers of Jesus.

This is why I have dedicated my life to doing two things. FIRST-I am doing one of the toughest things I've ever set out to do in my life; I'm trying to follow Jesus and embrace His teachings as my lifestyle. SECOND-I want to do whatever I can do to introduce Jesus and His teachings to as many individuals as I possibly can. This approach to life is summed up in an old phrase: TO KNOW JESUS AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN. I encourage you to think about doing the same.