Friday, January 27, 2006

Is "God" Enough?

I have been thinking about the way that we address God, or the way that we talk about God, particularly in the context of the religious pluralism that we find ourselves living in today. The name "God" flows off of virtually everybody's tongue, sometimes in disdain and profanity, but often in some sort of invocation of deity. People from all religious persuasions ("faith traditions" seems to be the buzzword these days) believe in God. But the gospel clearly declares that belief in God is not enough. Neither is invoking his name. If we are to have a relationship with God, if we are to worship the true God, we must confess that Jesus Christ is God.

In church, we spend much time talking to God, and talking about God. But do we spend enough time talking to Jesus as God, or about Jesus as God? Perhaps it is a fine distinction, especially if you are one that believes that no unbeliever should be in church, or that we should not do anything in church to accomodate unbelievers. After all, the believers recognize this truth about Jesus as God. For them, saying "God" is clearly recognized in the context of exclusive Christianity—Jesus-ism. But is that enough?

I wonder if we should not spend more time talking to Jesus in our prayers, repeating the name Jesus in our conversations and messages, not as a charm, but as a distinguishing mark of our Christianity. After all, it's not just about God. It's about Jesus. It's about loving him and following him. It is about the God who is Jesus.

How often do we, in church, begin our prayers with "Dear Jesus"? When was the last time you began a personal prayer with "Dear Jesus" when your children were not there? For many, "Dear Jesus" is a child's way of prayer that we abandoned when we became more mature. But should it be so? I think not. The focus in the church on the Head of the Church should include more frequent direct references invoking the name of Christ in more ways that the seemingly obligatory reference to the "name of Jesus" tacked on to the end of prayers.

Perhaps more conscious efforts to talk about "Jesus" would remind us constantly that Jesus is God in more than a doctrinal way. It would remind us that we do not worship the same God as the Jews, or the Muslims, or the Buddhists, or whatever else might be out there. We worship the God who is Jesus, who took human flesh, experienced all the reality of humanity, yet without sin; who died on the cross that we who were subject to slavery our whole lives might be set free.

The old gospel chorus, no doubt cheesy or trivial to some, old-fashioned to others, rings out loud and clear:
Let's talk about Jesus — the King of kings is He,
The Lord of lords supreme through all eternity.
The Great I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door;
Let's talk about Jesus more and more.

We could find less noble things to talk about then the Head of the Church.

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