When preaching on John 1:1-2 (audio here), my last two points were this:
Jesus is God-sized
God is Jesus-shaped
I wonder whether much of our evangelism is aimed at persuading people of point number one. And I wonder whether that emphasis, if divorced from the second point, is quite dangerous.
Here’s what I mean – when we tell an unbeliever that Jesus is God, this is what they hear: “You know the god of the pub discussion – the distant, arm-chair deity, uninvolved and uncaring? Actually Jesus is that guy!”
“Oh” says the unbeliever. “Because Jesus looks quite different to that.”
“Yeah, I know” we say. “But you need to look past all that stuff. Deep down he’s really ‘the god you’ve always believed in’ All that other stuff is just Jesus’ human nature. Yeah, that’s like window-dressing. Deep down he’s The Big Guy.”
And what’s the result? Well how many Christian testimonies run something like this…
“I have always believed in some kind of god. And then I met Jesus. And the preacher told me that Jesus is the god-I-always-believed-in. So now I’ve added faith in Jesus to my bedrock belief in a deity.”
Do you see what’s happened here? Some supposed natural knowledge of God is determining a person’s view of Christ and determining it from the outset.
It should be the other way around. Knowledge of Jesus should revolutionize our view of God. We should tell people not only that Jesus is God-sized, we should tell them that God is entirely Jesus-shaped. Let’s introduce them to the God they didn’t know. Let’s offer them the Christ-like God.
As Archbishop Michael Ramsey once said (riffing on 1 John 1:5): “God is Christlike, and in Him there is no unchristlikeness at all.”