“I am one witness concerning myself, and the Father who sent me is the other.”
They asked him, “Where is your Father?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t know me and you don’t know my Father. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” He spoke these words while he was teaching in the temple area known as the treasury. No one arrested him, because his time hadn’t yet come.John 8:18-20
This weekend I met with the Saturday morning men’s group for the first of what will be my closing series. My general plan over these few weeks is to craft a conversation around what is at the core of our faith as followers of Jesus, and how God wants us to respond – not as mere adherents to a point of view but as leaders who make a compelling difference.
Also, if I can possibly find the time, I want this series of conversations to help me outline a new book, built around the question, “What does it mean and what does it look like to be a 21st Century Christian?”
So of course we started with Jesus, and I posed this series of questions: “Who is Jesus to you? What is your primary relationship to Jesus? Do you experience Jesus as friend, guide, savior, hero, champion, master, or something else…? (There are so many possibilities). So, 1) Who is Jesus to you? and 2) What does Jesus want of you?”
In a sense, Jesus is God’s P.R. department; the infinite and unknowable translated into a human being. As mortal people our history, lives, and experiences are limited to this tiny pinprick of borrowed light in an obscure corner of a tiny solar system in a vast galaxy that is only one of countless star systems in the known Universe. And the language we use to communicate all this is finite, and cumbersome, and limited in the same way.
Yet the Bible teaches that we can know God via knowing Jesus. “For in Him,” Colossians 2:9 reads, “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And, back in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “If you knew me you would also know my father!”
Then, at The Last Supper, there is this amazing exchange with Philip, who said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.”
So Jesus replies, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:8-10)
For me, Jesus not only translates God into my understanding and experience, Jesus comes with me as teacher and guide along the way. Jesus is God’s flesh and blood invitation. In Jesus I am introduced to God. Jesus is – in a sense – a prism through which all the love and the glory and the goodness and the light of God passes, to interface with me in a way that is – as C.S. Lewis would suggest, “safe.”
Inasmuch as I invite Jesus to be my companion, my partner, my guide in the day-to-day details of my life, then all that I am becomes amplified by God.
God’s light, God’s essence, interacts as a catalyst, activating the raw material of my potential. Like Jesus, then, I am more completely human and at the same time more completely spiritual when I follow The Way. Everything that I am, and all that I hope to be is made not only possible but complete, more full, more potent, more vital in and through following Jesus.
If I can think this, say this, write this in a way that serves as a clear and reasonable invitation to join me on such a journey, then that would be a great start.
I am not interested in an apologetic that proves anything via reasoned argument. What I want to do is offer an apologetic of invitation, and curiosity, and what the hymn writer describes as, “Love that will not let [us] go.”
In love, and because of love – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.