In the last post I discussed the shelf life of words, and specifically examined the word “Christian” as an example of how the reality expressed by a word, and the word itself can drift away from one another over time.
Originally the word “Christian“ was coined by a group of people watching people who had followed Jesus. Fundamentally they applied a suffix to the word Christ to say that what they saw reminded them of what they had seen. They saw a group of people behaving Christy-ish-ly. Acting in the same manner as Jesus the Christ. Christ-ian-ish. The word was initially more an adjective than the noun it has become.
The people being described by this adjective-to-become-noun were simply living in a way that lined up with what Jesus had been doing among them, and had been showing them to do.
What was it these guys were doing? They were going around doing good to all people and overcoming the works of the devil. What was it they were doing? They were extending the work that Jesus had done to them, so it could come through them.
What these people were doing was living out their receptivity to what Jesus had come to do. This is an important distinction because they were not simply doing what they were instructed, they were exhaling what they had inhaled, broadcasting what they had received. They received what Jesus came to do, so then, naturally what came from them was what had first come to them.
What was it Jesus came to do? This is an important question, especially if we want to end up Christ-ian-ish-ly.
Jesus tells us himself in Luke 19 that He came to seek and save that which was lost.
If we think of “lost” as a bunch of scattered coins, we can call up an image of Jesus looking around and making a Way for a bunch of individuals. And this is certainly not an inaccurate idea, but I would submit it is an incomplete idea.
Picture instead an old car, sitting untended for a few decades. While it may have lost hubcaps or it may have lost hoses and belts, this picture of lost, I believe, will help us more to recognize what Jesus came to do. This car has lost more than a few individual items. It has lost a Way. It has lost a condition. While it remains in a form, like it’s original intent, it has lost what it would take to retain or regain it’s original design. The individual items that are “lost” are simply evidence that the car has lost a condition.
You see our cars that we drive are maintained. Even if it is just from daily use and function, the functionality of the car is maintained as it is connected to it’s owner and driver. The paint shines, the moving parts maintain elasticity and lubrication, the electrical parts maintain conductivity. The ongoing connection to the owner and being used for it’s design helps maintain it’s design.
Creation, similarly, has lost a Way. Rather than be in constant connection and use by it’s owner, or stewards, creation was lost at the fall. A new steward, an new world order set in motion a variety of “things” that got lost, but all were lost as a result of the loss of creations original design and function.
To begin to answer the question, what might be true those who are receiving and following what Jesus came to do and say, we must first of all recognize that Jesus came to restore a Way. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, and what was lost, was the condition of Creation that is true when it is connected to and daily inhabited by it’s Original Owner.
What Jesus did through the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel, the Cross, the Resurrection and the Advent of the Holy Spirit is nothing short of a rescue mission, rescuing all of creation from a fallen condition.
Through receiving His actions, we, His people then become both the rescued, and the recipients of a Kingdom. As recipients of something powerful, we then become broadcasters of this same Kingdom.
If Jesus came to restore creation to it’s original design, and in doing so returned to us our original design, we might have to Think Differently to lead such an experience. If Jesus restored a Way, that Way must be central to not only how we lead, but to every activity that we claim is representative of this man Jesus. Rather than simply assume the name “Christian” let us receive what it takes to look Christ-ish.