As a chaplain, I am committed to ministering to everybody, but I am still a Christian who strongly believes in Jesus as the Son of God who came into our world to prepare a way for all of us who have fallen short of God's glorious intentions to be saved for all eternity. Having said this, I have to raise the question about people's belief in Jesus today. Where is Jesus today?
Although grossly oversimplified, let me share some religious history with you. Some time ago when I was just getting started pastoring a church, someone came up with the idea that "God was dead" and we should all focus upon Jesus. Suddenly, every church marquee that I saw was filled with the dynamic affirmation: "God is not dead!" The theology went like this: Since God is one and came to earth in the form of Jesus, it would make sense that God the Father was no longer needed; Jesus took His place. Obviously, no one in the Christian churches liked this theology very much, although it did give pastors a lot to preach about.
Shortly after the "Death of God" theology was defeated, the Charismatic Movement came into vogue and, literally, thousands of churches in the United States were split because of it. The theology was rather simple. Since most Christians affirm that the Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was logical to assume that the Author of the Bible -- the Holy Spirit-- was more authoritative than the written word. The only problem occurred in determining whether the Holy Spirit was actually speaking through someone today. Regardless, when it became apparent that so many churches and Christians were hurt (destroyed) because of these conflicts, more rational minds recognized that the Holy Spirit was a Great Comforter, not the Great Destroyer, and today most of those conflicts do not exist.
Both of these rationalities have largely disappeared. The Charismatic Movement did a lot to lift up the role of the Holy Spirit and the "Death of God' theology caused a lot of people to re-examine their basic theology. So what's the problem? The problem today centers in and around the person of Jesus. Who was he? Who is he? And what is his role today?
This may sound like theological mumbo-jumbo to a lot of people today, but it becomes important when one realizes that Christianity is slowly fading away in the United States. The percentage of people who call themselves Christians has declined and those who claim an active role in a church have declined even more. The Sports Complex has effectively taken over Wednesday evening and all day Sunday -- the times traditionally reserved for Christians to practice their religion. People do not hesitate to give "lip service" to the existence of God, but they tend to not put their ideas about God into practice and ignore Jesus.
Jesus has become divisive, not just among the great religions of the world -- Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism -- but also among the rank and file of Christians. It is easy to recognize Jesus as a good person and someone who made a significant impact upon people over two thousand years ago, but he is now gone and there is no one to take his place. However, the problem continues to exist since Jesus is the only person who overcame death and revealed himself to literally hundreds of people after his resurrection. It is fitting, then, that the One who knows the way from heaven to earth should also be the One who guides people from earth to heaven.
To that end, Jesus boldly declared, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me" (John 14:6). If this is true, and the Bible affirms it many times, then the only way to receive eternal life in heaven is by placing one's faith and trust in Jesus. However, many people today refuse to recognize that the only way to get into heaven is through Jesus and instead have suggested many other ways. After all, they say, surely God would not eliminate billions of people from eternal life simply because they do not believe in Jesus being God's Son and the gateway into heaven.
This is a great problem for Christians today. If they deny Jesus is the only way into eternal life and heaven, then they must also deny the veracity of the Bible. You cannot have one without the other! Thus, Joshua in the Old Testament boldly declared to the confused Israelites, "...choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
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Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 01/01/2020
Print Headline: Where is Jesus today?