Since this is a new blog, I thought I’d start off with the simplest question I could. Most of you are probably thinking, “I thought this was a Christian blog? Shouldn’t the people reading this know Who Jesus is?” I would respond to this first by saying that I am of the impression that any positive action in one’s spiritual life begins with a knowledge of the Creator and Savior of the world. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no more important question. In addition, some of you would be surprised at the answer you might receive – or not receive – from some in the world, especially if you are not members of my generation. There are plenty of people nowadays that don’t know Jesus, even if they claim to. Beyond that, though, we are talking specifically about the “Christ,” not Jesus. Don’t leave yet, I know they’re the same. Let me explain.
The words “Jesus” and “Christ” refer to the same Person, but the meanings of the terms themselves are different. In our culture today, we use the word Christ as a name, usually directly following the Name of Jesus. Jesus is a Name, given to the Son of God before His birth to indicate His purpose in the world (Luke 1:30-32). However, Christ in itself is not a name but a descriptive term. The word comes from the Greek christos, which means, “anointed.” An anointment in the culture of the Jews symbolized the fact that the anointed was chosen for some task; a common example is the anointment of David as the king of Israel in I Samuel 16:12-13. Various passages in the Bible talk of the Messiah as the anointed One of God (Isaiah 61:1-3 is one example, confirmed later in Luke 4:16-21); Messiah is, in fact, the Hebrew equivalent of the word christos. What we are doing when we call Jesus the Christ is giving Him a title that the Bible itself gives Him; He is the Anointed One, chosen of God to save us.
Recently, we at Willow Avenue were privileged to have Bryan McAlister as our guest speaker for our gospel meeting. One of his lessons was entitled, “What about the Christ?” I suppose I should give credit to him, for it was from that excellent lesson that the inspiration for part of this thought came. As those of you who read my little bio snippet know, I am a history nerd, and I love to study and research the opinions of the “great” influential minds of the past. (I could probably have my own weekly blog about political history and science, but I digress.) I decided to go to online and find out what the answers of different historical figures might be to this question. Essentially, what would the most influential people in world history say if they were asked about the identity of the Christ?
One of the first quotes I found was this:
“In boundless love as a Christian I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His night and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders…. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross.”
It is clear that this person has some knowledge of the Person of Christ. There is an acknowledgment here of multiple aspects of His character, and the relationship between His anger towards sin and His love in sacrifice is pointed to. All in all, you can tell that this person is, if not a Christian, a reader of the Bible and a follower of Christ to some extent. It should come as quite a shock to most that these happen to be the words of Adolf Hitler.
How about this quote; it is much simpler and to the point:
“I love Jesus Christ. I am a Christian… I cry when I see injustice, children dying of hunger.”
A basic sense of compassion is expressed, and while there is no complex theological principle set forth here, there doesn’t really have to be. This person loves God and loves other people, according to him. Don’t believe everything you read; these are the words of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, who, while less well known, was every bit as oppressive as his German counterpart.
I walk the halls of a high school pretty much every weekday, and I can tell you firsthand that the vast majority of the people I see would say these same things. I am by no means comparing any of my friends or classmates to tyrannical dictators. I am saying, though, that the world has a very basic view of how a Christian life looks. It is not hard to know the Name of Jesus and to declare faithfulness to it in principle. What, then, separates us from the rest of the world in our commitment to Christ?
The answer is found in the very definition of His identity as the Christ. He must be the Anointed One in our lives. In II Timothy 2:3-6, Paul uses the three metaphorical figures of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer to illustrate the life of the Christian. The point is this: you don’t have to be a soldier. You don’t have to be a farmer. You don’t have to be an athlete. But when you choose to be these things, you make a commitment. You cannot simply say, “I love the United States and its leaders!” and expect to become a soldier. The same principle is true in dealing with the Christian walk. There must be more than a confession of faith. That confession is vital, but it must be backed up by a daily commitment to fighting against temptation and fighting for the cause of Christ.
Anyone can say that he or she loves Christ, and anyone can grow to know Him through studying His Word. However, only a devout and committed Christian will be able to back that statement of love up in their action. And only that Christian who has been faithful to the One they have anointed above all in their heart and life will be rewarded in His coming again.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)