Monday, December 15, 2008

Who is Jesus?

We are in the middle of the third week of Advent. It is a time of waiting and preperation for the coming of Jesus - the promised Messiah - the Deliverer - God made flesh.

As part of our reflection for Advent, we need to consider just whom is coming. For whom are we waiting? Why are we waiting for him?

These questions can be answered by looking at what Jesus asked Peter - "Who do you say that I am?" There is no more important question that we can answer than "Who is Jesus."

There are two answers to this question that sound really good to us and that we like to hear. The first answer is that Jesus is like a guru that helps us to get in touch with the divine in our lives. We learn to look for the "christ consciousness" in our selves. This affirms the original good in us - our "Original Blessing" if you will. This sounds good and affirming. We all want to think that we are basically good people who have just gone a little off. This version of Jesus serves our need for transcendence in our lives. "The Kingdom of God is within you." We need the sence of the Holy and this brings us there - by looking in a mirror and marveling at the wonderful work of God manifest in our selves.

The second answer is that Jesus is a wonderful teacher of moral truths. However, his followers could not see what he was teaching and got his teaching wrong. This is Jesus as "life coach" who comes to us to help us be better people. This affirms the need to serve the poor, to be work for social justice. This version of Jesus calls us outside of ourselves to serve others. This Jesus helps us to understand that freedom is found in service.

Both of these Jesuses have some basis in scripture. Both are true - they just are (like all heresies) not true enough. Both of these Jesuses are like chocolate. They taste good going down, but there is very little nourishment there and the consequences of a steady diet of this Jesus is deadly to your long term well being.

There are two words to discribe Jesus and both are necessary. The first is "Savior." We don't really like the word "savior" - it implies that we need to be saved. Being saved means that we have to admit that we are going to die without our savior - we are not going to live. Having a savior means that we have to admit to the world and to God and to ourselves that we are not nice people after all. We are not "basically good" and we are not divine by nature. We are utterly lost without our savior. Who is Jesus? He is my savior. Without Him I will die eternally. He heals me from myself and calls me out of my self and selfishess.

If we don't like "savior," then we really won't like the second word, "Lord." Jesus is our Lord and we don't like that. It implies that we need a Lord - a person to rule over us. Having a Lord implies surrender.

During this Advent ask yourself - for whom are you waiting? Are you waiting for a person to awaken the divine within you? Are you waiting for someone to teach you the same moral truths that you already know?

Or, are you waiting for a Savior and Lord - someone to whom you can surrender and admit that you can't do it alone. Are you waiting for someone to make you new or just make you better? Are you waiting for Jesus - the Son of God - the Messiah - the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? He is the only one worth waiting for. The other Jesus - the guru or the life coach or the moral teacher are a dime a dozen and can be found in any self help book. There is no need to wait for him.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransome our captive souls. Free us from the prison we have built for ourselves. Help us to die to self and die to sin so that we can be raised in new Life and live in the resurrection.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder