The Incredible, Shrinking Jesus

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

church8For many years I used to read church ads in the Saturday religion section of our local Grand Rapids paper. I was curious to see what people would say about their churches. Most churches advertised they were “friendly,” “welcomed visitors,” had a “great nursery,” as well as telling us the pastor’s sermon title for Sunday and their denominational affiliation, if they had one.

The one thing I never heard people say in the paper was, "THE REAL JESUS IS HERE!” The reason we don’t hear that is because everybody assumes the real Jesus is at their church. After all, it is a church, isn’t it? But what if a church doesn’t preach/teach about the real Jesus and the real Gospel?The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that there were many false “gospels” in the church world (Galatians 1:6-7). After all, aren’t there as many views and ideas about Jesus today as there were in our Lord’s Day? What if a church isn’t clear about our Lord as fully God and fully Man, the only Savior of the world? What if a church doesn’t believe in a Jesus that teaches marriage is only between a man and a woman as a wonderful and exclusive picture of Jesus’ love for the Church?

What we are watching today in many of our churches is the story of the “Incredible, shrinking Jesus.” Fewer and fewer churches are really clear about the real Jesus, other than perhaps on a doctrinal statement that few have ever read or completely believe. Aren’t doctrinal statements boring, after all? If you wonder about this issue, just go up to people in a typical church in America and ask them the question our Lord asked the disciples in Matthew 16:15, “Who am I?” You will be astonished by the answers you get… or maybe do not get.

Now the reason why Jesus is shrinking in size all over America is because the focus tends to be more on us… not Him. Jesus is getting smaller and we are getting bigger. Much of the preaching in America today is not about the Lord Jesus as the Creator God and Lord of the universe who sovereignly saves sinners through His finished work on the Cross. Sure, we will hear about Jesus in most churches, but it is not the kind of preaching that takes our breath away or demands everything from us in response as serious disciples. A Jesus like that is a little unsettling for folks living in a culture that tends to be built on the self and our world of perceived needs and comforts.

Now, we are not saved by how much we know about the real Jesus. We need to know Him and not just know about Him through some doctrine on a piece of paper or in a confession. And yet, can we have a real church without the real Jesus? We will almost never hear that question asked today. It is very easy for a church to have a hundred programs and activities for all, without the membership really knowing the real Jesus of the Bible.

That leads me to an obvious conclusion. Isn’t a growing understanding of the Lord Jesus, His Person and Work, the most incredible story and the most exciting journey anyone could take? Why would there ever be something more important than knowing the Church’s Lord in deeper and richer ways?

May the Lord Jesus challenge all of us to seek Him anew so that knowing Him better and serving Him more is the central joy and purpose of our lives.