Those who follow this blog and others will hear the term “Personal Jesus”. In looking at the definition, most will see it’s the Jesus that people want to follow. It’s the Jesus that people make for themselves. However, we see through the entire Bible (Old and New Testament) that it matters to know who God is and what He is about. This is what I term the Objective or Absolute Jesus.
The Absolute Jesus (and therefore the Absolute God) is the Jesus that we have defined to us within Scripture, in completion, without twisting the words. One of the hallmarks of Churchianity is that people do not follow the genuine Christ, but follow the representation of Christ that has been set out by men. This means that there are people who pick and choose doctrine based on what men say, or these days what makes men feel good. In history, there are as many representations of Christ as there are denominations, and with the rise of feminism and the acceptance of the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus, there are almost as many Jesuses as there are people professing the name of Jesus these days.
What is the value of an absolute measure, as opposed to a subjective one (*)? If the rules of a game are not uniformly and objectively applied, chaos results. In weights and measures, universal and honest representations are important across commerce as well. If a kilogram or a liter is not rightful and universal with all those involved in commerce there will be issues related both to understanding and to justice done others in transactions. This is a rightful concern of governments and even a concern of God’s (see also Leviticus 19:35-36):
A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. (Proverbs 11:1)
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? (Amos 8:4-5)
And if we look into earthly justice this is a concern as well. In a Godly society, the laws are applied evenly and objectively upon all people. This means that the laws are well known and understood as well. Again this is God’s concern:
Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. (Deuteronomy 16:18-19)
So having seen what justice is in the eyes of the Lord, we look towards justice the Lord will bring upon us. It will be as even as this, given the standards that He has set out, which again are absolute ones.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:27-28)
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)
The standard that is set out is faith in the Jesus that really existed and not the Jesus that people have created (Psalm 50:21), as defined in Scripture. That is a study for another day, but faith is not simply saying “I believe”, getting wet, and living your life as you did before. It is faith expressed through action, by putting the words of Scripture into action. One of the steps is to distance yourself from sin (Romans 6:1-7), and knowing the absolute standard is a requirement (by the Law we know what sin is – Romans 3:20).
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
God would rather have us know about Him, and love Him wholeheartedly by seeking to know who He really is and honor Him by obeying His commandments (John 15:9-10) than perform religious rituals in His Name. As the old adage goes, if the Teacher repeats it, it’s important. Hosea 6:6 is quoted three times in the Gospel in different situations (Mark 12:33; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7). A simple way to look at following God is to love what He loves, hate what He hates (yes he does – Proverbs 6:16-19), and care about what He cares about in faith, words, and actions. Knowing who He is is incumbent to perform all three of these things, and we learn about Him through discipleship to Jesus.
When we seek to follow Christ, it is important to find out how to follow Christ. If one is to be judged by the Creator of the Universe in any way, then it’s incumbent to find out what that standard is so one can adhere to it. The example given to Joshua, who had the Spirit with him, along with David (Psalm 119) should drive us.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
Adhering to an absolute standard is indeed important. Jesus illustrates this for us:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:5-6)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I have to think in reading this that the ones that stood before the Lord and said these things had their own personal God, and chose to adhere to that God instead of the true and absolute God. Those following the personal Jesus are not abiding in Him will get the rude awakening from Jesus that He described. The answer will be the same one the police officer will give if you say you didn’t know the law: “Ignorance is not an excuse.” Next time, the personal Jesus will be addressed more directly, along with the consequences.
(*) – I struggled for a good while to find the right two words to describe this. By objective I mean “What God says the measure is” and by subjective I mean “What each man says the measure is”. If I think of any better, I’ll probably edit this post to use those words.