There is a question that I’ve been pondering, and feel compelled to share.

Is the Jesus you believe in a result of your experiences, circumstances, and influences, or is the Jesus you believe in a result of your time in God’s Word?

Now, I’d graciously ask you to not assume the answer, but instead, take a minute and do what I’ve been challenged to do. Consider what is being asked.

A harsh reality.

As someone who has lived in Christian circles my whole life, I’ve not only seen the cliche culture that exists, but I have very much been a part of it. It’s simpler to spend time talking about the Bible than studying it. Over the years Bible study groups have morphed into places where a Bible passage is read (maybe once – without any context), then the next 45 minutes is spent talking about everyone’s opinion or interpretation of it. Most answers given are surface level at best; packed full of Christian inuendoes. Churches across the western world are filled with groups like these. Even pulpits across North America and the world are filled with communicators citing verses without any reference to its original context or backstory. Instead, they offer a well-crafted motivational presentation that honestly has very little to do with the passage cited. Surface level Christianity has become the norm.

So as I revisit my original question, hopefully, we can begin to see it’s legitimacy.

Is the Jesus you believe in a result of your experiences, circumstances, and influences, or is the Jesus you believe in a result of your time in God’s Word?

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a place for discussion and that everyone needs to shut up and be taught. I’d never advocate for that. However, I am proposing that if we have existed (at some level) within church culture, that there is a possibility that our opinion of Jesus has been shaped by the views of others and not the Bible itself.

A rabbinic culture.

We find a version of this erroneous approach as we weigh up the Rabbinic culture of the 1st Century. It was common-place for a disciple to welcome every word from their Rabbi as truth. It was often frowned upon for a disciple to challenge their Rabbi’s opinion.

The problem with opinions, however, is that they are subjective. Yes, the hope is that a person’s view would be based on an accurate understanding of scripture. But that’s not always the case, and so we move in a dangerous direction if we allow the subjective to inform the objective, not the other way around.

A Different Question

Now I also don’t ask this question to insert doubt into your life or to spark a level of anxiety as you think about your faith. I pose this question only as a means of accountability to rustle the feathers of status quo Christianity.

Have we become complacent? Are we stuck in a rut of learning? Is it possible that we’ve settled for someone else’s Jesus rather than the Jesus of the Bible? Thess questions really challenged me.

Ideas are amazing, excellent and very helpful. They can be a tool that God uses to teach us and grow His body, but they were never designed to be the substitute for a substantial, in-depth understanding, based out of a healthy season of study.

As a pastor, I’m praying that we continue to grow in our desire to know and learn what God’s Word says by truly pressing into the authors original intent. I’m praying that we, as a body of believers, dig into a robust, effective and Spirit-illuminating framework for reading God’s Word.

May the objective always advise the subjective.

If you are looking for a way to understand the Bible more effectively. Check out Ray Lubeck’s book titled, Read the Bible for a Change