Jesus or Christ? What’s the difference? Everything…
Our Own, Personal Jesus
Western Christianity, and particularly American Christianity, has personalized the historical Jesus of the gospels. This Jesus walked the earth around 2000 years ago. He performed miracles, healed people, and was a great teacher. His is the life we are to imitate. He is the model christian. He is our personal lord and savior. He is our own, personal Jesus. We ask him into our lives. He saves us. He redeems us. He gives us strength to do our ministry. He is our own personal genie; he helps us with our lives. If we ask for things in Jesus’ name, then he’s got to comply. If he doesn’t, then we don’t have enough faith. This Jesus is here to improve our lives.
This Jesus of the gospels, the one of the flesh, the one who walked the earth, ate food, grew tired and called disciples, the historical Jesus, was crucified, died, and was buried. This Jesus founded the Christian religion. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” We pray his prayer. We remember his death. We eat his small wafer/cracker and drink his thimbleful of juice. We read our bible about this Jesus. We sing songs about this Jesus, and sometimes we sing to him. We evangelize in the name of this Jesus. We heal in the name of this Jesus. We create programs, ministries, and organizations in the name of this Jesus. We make movies, write music, and paint pictures in the name of this Jesus. We strive to be famous, because this Jesus wants us to be famous for God.
We quote sayings from this Jesus. We don’t watch certain movies nor listen to certain songs in the name of this Jesus. We don’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go with those who do in the name of this Jesus. Everything is rules and regulations with this Jesus; follow them, and you’re in; don’t, and you’re not. This Jesus lives in heaven and waits for us to join him there. This Jesus has a personalized will for each of us; we just have to find it. This Jesus sprinkles fairy dust on situations as we pray for them. This Jesus requires quiet times, reading our bible, and so much time sharing him with strangers per day.
This Jesus died to make our lives better. When we have it easy and are successful, then he must be blessing us. If things are difficult, then he is either punishing us or is just being silent in our lives. This Jesus gives us proper biblical, pastoral authority to follow in our churches. This Jesus tolerates it when his church looks just like the world. This Jesus relishes our rock concerts every Sunday morning. This Jesus loves being the guest of honor in his own house. This Jesus loves to visit his people when we ask him to. This Jesus only shows up on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and sometimes Wednesday nights. This Jesus gives you the strength to do whatever you want to do. This Jesus helps those who help themselves. This Jesus condemns those who try to meet outside his ordained institution. This Jesus only blesses food when we ask him. This Jesus only hears our prayers if we bow our heads and close our eyes. This Jesus is barely big enough to handle all our circumstances, so we need to help him out from time to time.
This Jesus waits every morning for us to have our quiet time with him. This Jesus only speaks through the bible and his ordained leaders today. This Jesus looks down from heaven to make sure everything is going ok for us. He is also watching to point out what we do wrong. My personal Jesus can tell me something completely different from your personal Jesus, and you have to respect my Jesus just like I respect yours. This Jesus is separate from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The historical Jesus is open to analysis and debate. This Jesus is no different from Buddha, Allah, or any other religious figure. This Jesus lives only in my heart, because I’ve asked him to live there. The historical Jesus might have been married, had long and/or short hair, been ugly or handsome, and possibly passed gas while telling jokes to his disciples around a campfire. The historical Jesus is dead. This is the Jesus many claim to know. Is this the Jesus you know?
God’s Christ isn’t about helping or fixing our lives; He is about living His life through us. God’s Christ did away completely with the old man (our soul life) and is building His Church, the one new man. All the fullness is pleased to dwell in God’s Christ. The fullness of Deity dwells in Him in bodily form. He is not separate from the Father nor the Holy Spirit. God’s Christ doesn’t move by human need; He moves by the Father’s life. God’s Christ isn’t concerned about our fame, fortune, or glory; He glorifies the Father. God’s Christ doesn’t want us to imitate Him, because He knows we can’t; we would fail, and we did. He does it for us. His work is completed. There is no condemnation for those who are in God’s Christ.
God’s Christ is risen, ascended, and glorified. Though we knew God’s Christ according to the flesh, we now know Him in this way no longer. God’s Christ is the cornerstone, the rock, the foundation for His Church. God’s Christ is preeminent in all things, not just some. God’s Christ holds the universe together; therefore, He is more than capable of handling our circumstances. God’s Christ works His character and life into us through trials and difficult times. God’s Christ is our Joy, regardless of our situation. God’s Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith. God’s Christ works unto His church, not our personal denominations. God’s Christ is our unity. God’s Christ is righteousness and will turn away those who claimed to do things in the name of Jesus, because He doesn’t know them.
God’s Christ is the beginning and the end and all things in between. He is the alpha and omega, the a and the z, the a and the zed, and He is every letter in between; He is the Word of God. God’s Christ is the lamb that was slain before the foundations of the earth. God’s Christ is the defeater of death. God’s Christ is the Light of the world. God’s Christ lives on the earth today through His people, the Church. God’s Christ has a physical body on the earth today – His Church. God speaks through His Christ today, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He also made the world. God’s Christ is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.
God’s Christ ushered in the new covenant. God’s Christ upholds and fulfills the new covenant Himself. God’s Christ is the Vine, and we are simply the branches – lifeless without Him. God’s Christ invites us to abide in Him and He’ll abide in us. God’s Christ makes it simple to look away unto Him, to behold Him, to fix our eyes on Him. God’s Christ causes everything else to fade away.
To live is God’s Christ. God’s Christ is one with Him and His people; none are separated. God’s Christ, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. God’s Christ then humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. God’s Christ is highly exalted and given the name which is above every name. God’s Christ is Lord. God’s Christ is Head of His Church.
God’s Christ indwells His people and lives on the earth today – all while being seated in the heavenlies. God’s Christ is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. God’s Christ is the visible image of the invisible God, and His Church is His visible image today. God’s Christ is the firstborn of all creation. God’s Christ is all and in all. God’s Christ is the lamb who sits upon the throne. God’s Christ is our rest, our peace, our strength. God’s Christ is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God’s Christ came to bring a sword to divide families over Himself.
God’s Christ is love and expresses it through His body, the Church. God’s Christ is healing and expresses it through His body, the Church. God’s Christ is for His body, the Church. He didn’t start a religion; He simply offers His life by which His people, the Church, can now live. God’s Christ has been placed far above all rulers and authorities; He has no rival nor equal. God’s Christ is the kingdom into which we are rescued.
God’s Christ wants to be chosen, for He first chose us. God’s Christ works only and ever unto Himself, the Glory of the Father. God’s Christ is now a life-giving spirit, the head of the body, the Church. God’s Christ is one corporate man on the earth, expressing the very nature and life of God. God’s Christ can never be fully expressed by one individual, but only through the whole body, His Church. God’s Christ is alive today. Have you seen this Christ? Is this the Christ you know?
Jesus or Christ? Which do you want to know?
I pray that the eyes of your heart (and mine) may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.