In my day job, everybody and their brother is compelled to create highly specialised jargon to describe EVERYTHING.
Frequently two or more groups will co-opt the same term, but assign different meanings – each of which is the one, absolute, truth. This quickly taught me the conversational value of being sure both parties mean the same thing when we use the same words. Or at least that we each understand what the other means by those words.
I don’t know if this is a ‘Christian’ blog, but I do know it’s a blog written by a Christian, and dealing with a lot of Christian stuff. So, I want to be clear about what I mean when I talk about Christianity, Christ, Jesus, God, etc.
When I’m speaking of God here, whom do I mean?
My view of God is as I understand him from the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible. Yahweh. Jehovah.
God with a capital G, of Holy Trinity fame: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
And to make him much simpler, let’s focus down on just the best known piece of his self: Jesus. Yeshua. Messiah. Christ. God the Son.
The Jesus Christ of New Testament fame, who claimed to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. The one who lived and died and rose again, rocking the entire world. The Jesus who existed eternally as part of the Trinity but agreed to manifest himself here on earth for roughly 33 years in order to be both fully God and fully man, living a sinless life so that he could, by sacrificing himself, repair the divide that separated imperfect human beings from the presence of a perfect God.
That’s the guy I’m talking about.
Why does it matter?
I want to be clear on all this because for me Jesus’, God’s, being who and what he is, is the only reason whatever to follow him.
I’m not one of those nice pleasant people who wants to belong, or enjoys the social aspects of church, or finds comfort in believing in Something Greater Than Myself.
Frankly, I find God to be about as stressful and disquieting as I find him to be comforting.
So I have no reason to serve a God of my own manufacture – my natural bent would be just to serve me. But, because I believe that there is a real God, just the one, and that he is what he says he is [note] That, for me, is part and parcel of someone claiming to BE Truth: They have to be either all right, or all wrong at that point. And for various reasons I went with God = the real deal. [/note], it made sense to me try to live according to his directions. I think of this as following the manufacturer’s instructions: things just work better that way.
(Now, the operative word there is ‘try.’ I succeed with this about 20% of the time. On a good day. But that’s part of what this is what this quest is about.)
What’s in a name?
I’m going to try to use the name ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’, when referring to God, for most of these posts. That isn’t natural for me, I’ve mostly always called God “God”, so I’ll likely miss more than I hit on that one. I’m going to give it a try though, for a few reasons:
- A lot of people believe in “God”, but we don’t all mean the same God. Even with that capital G. Religious Jews believe in the same God I do, but they believe that the Messiah hasn’t yet come so Jesus was a liar or deluded, whereas I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and he’s already come. The word Allah, in another example, actually just means “God” in Arabic, so Arabic speaking Christians call the God of the Bible Allah, just as Moslem Arabs call the God of the Quran Allah. Jesus, on the other hand, is pretty clear.
- The name “God” is a lot easier to make into an abstract concept than “Jesus” is. God can be anything from The Man Upstairs, to a wrathful lightning bolt flinging madman to a glorified Santa Claus. Despite the ethnically inaccurate fine art renditions of him through the years, Jesus, again, is pretty clear.
- The name God doesn’t necessarily have a strong personal link for everyone. People I’ve known who most naturally refer to God mainly by the name “Jesus” tend to have a warmer closer view of him than those of us who more naturally gravitate to the name “God”. I’m not sure why this is.
And while on the topics of names, to me a Christian is someone who has chosen to worship the above identified Jesus, accepting the written record of him, his teachings, and his commands, as basically accurate [note] I don’t have it all figured out which parts of the Bible are meant to be situational and which eternal, which are meant to be taken as literal and absolute and which are to be considered guidelines or symbolic; and I don’t assume that others necessarily do either. But if you don’t believe the main gist, in my view there’s no point in being a Christian. [/note], and live accordingly.
For my purposes the term doesn’t apply to ‘nice people’, even though some Christians are nice. It doesn’t apply to every citizen of a specific nation. It doesn’t apply to the children of Christian parents unless the children themselves have chosen to follow Christ.
So, that’s who I say he is. And that’s how I define Christianity. No worries if that’s not how you see things, but at least you know where I’m coming from.