An internet post from Kris Vallotton of KV Ministries caught my attention. In it, Vallotton wrote, “Faith is not a relationship with God. Faith is the connection to a relationship with God. In the book of Acts the Church was called “the Way,” (a walk) not “the faith.” I’m concerned that Christianity has become a philosophy to believe in instead of a Person we follow. It seems like we are often making converts to Christianity that are not followers of Jesus.”*1
His statement makes me ask….do we who identify with the description “believers” think of ourselves as philosophical conduits…or bearers of an Abundant Life that is just waiting to pour out and impact someone else? If we choose the first option, maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to communicate the Grace, Love, and impact of God’s Presence to others.
It’s much easier to describe externals: the who, what, where, and why about Jesus…and yet equally easy to drop the ball when it comes to describing our interactions with Him, the conversations and understanding of Him that God has enabled us to be a part of when He chose to put His Spirit, a member of the triune Godhead – an intrinsic part of Himself – within us.
Author Francis Frangipane describes it this way: “The teachings of Jesus Christ are not to be blended into the Scriptures as though He were one of many equally important voices used by God. He is, in truth, the living revelation of God Himself, the sole expression of His invisible glory. When Christ speaks, we are listening to God unfiltered, unbiased, unveiled.”*2
Re-read that and let it sink in, slowly. Frangipane just hit a home run and the ball is flying way out of the stadium.
Jesus Himself spoke those very words about Himself throughout the Gospels. For His honest Self-revelation He received mocking, disbelief, stoning, being ostracized, fury, vengeance…it’s a pretty long list of responses. And when we share what He shared….sometimes the same thing comes our way….which is partly why it is so easy to default to “Christian philosophy.” Impersonal. If someone “doesn’t like it” and says so, no one’s feelings get hurt, no self-esteem is wounded.
Through sharing a “Christian philosophy,” we achieve a clearer differentiation between who we are, who He is, and just what is being rejected.
We put distance between “us” and “Him.” The problem with that is…well…we put distance between us and Him.
Jesus clearly knew the responses (and the temptation to flee) for He taught, “A disciple (student) is not above histeacher, nor a slave above his master…if they have called the head of the house ‘a ruler of demons’ (Beelzebul) how much more will they malign the members of his household!” (Matthew 10:24-25, NAS)
Yet it is that task – no, the joy and responsibility, even the privilege – to which we continue to be called, to persist and embrace and trust the One who leads us, speaks to us and through us so that others are impacted. Last spring, guest speaker Dan Mohler taught at Joyland and revealede, persecution wasn’t personal. It’s the kingdom the enemy is after, not us. Because we carry the Kingdom….we ‘get in the way.’ It’s never personal.
Frangipane asks this: “Do you truly desire to see God? Christ’s words are windows through which the pure in heart behold the Almighty. Certainly others can edify our souls greatly, but no prophet, apostle or teacher exceeds the revelation of God in Christ. Ponder Christ, and you contemplate the nature of God. Eat His Words, and you assimilate into your spirit the substance of the Almighty.” *2
Think about that: “assimilate into your spirit the substance of the Almighty.”
We won’t embody His Vision – or share His Vision – by simply smiling while we describe the who-what-where-or-why’s.
Jesus will never be seen…
*1-Kris Vallotton, Facebook post, KV Ministries *2-Francis Frangipane, “Jesus Wants You to Pursue His Glory,” posted on Identity Network website