Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of preaching as part of our Psalms series at State Street. I hit the jackpot because I got to speak on Psalm 115 which at its heart is about worship, particularly how a right perspective of God helps form a right way of worship.
“Not to us O Lord, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and your faithfulness.”
It should come as no surprise that smack dab in the middle of that right perspective we find Jesus. Because Jesus is not only smack dab in the middle of our understanding of the Christian life; he is smack dab in the middle of what it means to be human. In Christ, we understand humanity. We lift up Christ and he in turn lifts us up, making us more like him.
And I love this idea, because it’s more than an idea, it’s truth. If we lift Christ up, if he is the one that we worship, then we become more like him. Because it’s true that we become like what we worship.
We become like what we worship……
This seems like a totally solid plan. And it is….as long as our perspective of Jesus is right. And so this is the thing that keeps knocking around my brain this week, a right view of Jesus.
Who is Jesus? The real Jesus?
Because I think far too often we tend to make Jesus into our own image; we make him into the thing that is most convenient for us. We form Jesus into something that can be controlled and manipulated to match our own agenda. We make Jesus our scapegoat in our right to be offended…because we love to be offended in the name of Jesus. We make it so hard and frankly, so unappealing to love Jesus. Because if this skewed view of Jesus is the one being pedaled, then no thank you….hard pass. I can find pride and judgment and entitlement around any corner; I don’t need to lift it up on a pedestal and proclaim it to be the way of Jesus. Because it’s not.
And so we miss it….in all the clamor of who is righter and who is holier and who is smarter we miss the simplicity of who Jesus actually is.
So who is Jesus? The real Jesus?
Simply put, we see the real Jesus in the red letters of the Bible (of course not just there, but we see it pretty clearly there!). We see Jesus in the way he touched the unclean and loved the unlovable and began with the outliers. He showed us time and again that there is room. There is even room for the unlikely, maybe especially for the unlikely. He didn’t seem to care so much about the “proper way;” he was more concerned with the loving way, and sometimes there’s no script for that. He cared about justice; he cared about the least of these; and to belittle this into some sort of “liberal agenda” is just turning a blind eye to the things that mattered to Jesus. The things that matter to God. Jesus wasn’t afraid of messy, in fact when we look closely into his life, we usually find him in the middle of the mess. And his response is always love, always grace, always bringing life to dead situations and healing to the brokenness of humankind. It’s really not that complicated. We look at Jesus, real Jesus and we see humanity.
And when we see this humanity, in the face, in the life, in the death of Jesus….when we are suddenly hit over the head with the trueness of it……it can’t help but form us. Because we think, “Oh there you are Jesus! I’ve been looking for you. I’ve been wanting to know you oh so badly. There you are Jesus.”
We become like what we worship. And when we worship Jesus, the real Jesus, we begin to see more clearly the better way of mercy, of love, of grace. We find what it means to be human, because we’ve glimpsed it so clearly in the real life of Jesus.