Thursday, July 03, 2008

4 Minute Devotions: Stoning Jesus

Should we as Christians give up some of our sacred beliefs about Christ in order to accommodate other peoples' beliefs?

Podcast version here

Last week, our General Assembly in its own way, tried to begin the peace process between Christians, Jews, and Muslims by discussing a statement that calls upon all of us to worship together in order to live together. The writers of the statement put forward the belief that we all serve the same God, so we should be able to find a common thread in our faiths.

Peace is a worthy cause, but not at the cost of spiritual appeasement. We don’t worship the same God. We believe different things about God and because of that, Christians need to be aware of the forces of cultural universalism that are creeping into our faith.

John 10:36 What about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?

Take this incident from the Gospel of John. Jesus is about to be stoned by the Jews because He claims to be God’s Son. Even to this day, the Jewish people do not believe it and the Muslims get very upset about this claim. Both of those faiths believe that Jesus is a great teacher or prophet, but nothing more than that. And when we ascribe divine status to Jesus as being equal to God in the Holy Trinity, both groups still call that blasphemy. If Jesus was alive and walking about the streets of Jerusalem and Mecca making these claims, he would either be assassinated or stoned to death.

Now some people think that this is not such a big deal, after all, isn’t world peace worth giving up some of our sacred beliefs in order to live together in harmony? But the trouble is this: if we settle for saying that we all believe in the same God, then we are cutting Jesus out of the whole deal. We are no longer Trinitarian Christians; we have just become deists. Jesus is no longer the Christ, the Son of God, or part of the trinity. He is just another Good Teacher; He is just another prophet.

I don’t know about you, but I owe everything to Jesus and I will not undermine His authority in order to worship with my neighbors. He is everything to me and I cannot allow myself to theologically stone Him to death in order to accommodate other people’s beliefs. That is apostasy to me and we should all be wary of it. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Lord of the Universe. Anything else just won’t do, no matter how we try to rationalize it. As Christians, either Christ is First and Last, or He is nothing at all.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, the world wants us to get along in order to keep the peace in the world. We call You the Prince of Peace, but we forget that title means the creating of peace between us unholy sinners and the perfect holiness of God. As the Son of God, You are able to intercede on our behalf. As the Christ of Calvary, You shed Your blood to cleanse our souls. If we are to remain true to You, we cannot give up Who You are and what You have accomplished. Grant us the courage to remain faithful to You, especially when we are pressured to give up Your exclusive Titles and Divine Rights. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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