Some would have us believe that allegiance to Jesus is to be demonstrated by Bible study, prayer, and church attendance. Too often the emphasis on these activities seems to divert attention away from the real message of Jesus, a message with some astounding implications.
When many hear the words “message of Jesus”, they immediately think about the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The message of Jesus is thus seen as a history lesson of sorts. The message conveys historical facts with spiritual application, under this paradigm.
When I speak of the message of Jesus, I do not mean the historical account of Jesus’ life and ministry. Instead I refer to the life lessons which Jesus taught. The message brought by Jesus conveyed to man a new picture of God and a new understanding of powerful influence of love in ordering and transforming human existence. A claim to allegiance to Jesus hardly seems viable without a commitment to His counter intuitive idea that love is the answer to all of the mankind’s ills.
Whereas, acts of sanctity and public piety, as outlined above, demonstrate a commitment to the church and its doctrines and stories, I believe that true allegiance to Jesus is marked by a dedication to a way of life and a worldview which at the very least attempts to internalize the idea of winning by losing, dying to live abundantly, and loving in order to overcome. An emphasis on the historical Jesus to the exclusion of the ethical Jesus and His counter intuitive Truth strips Jesus’ earthly ministry of most of its essential significance. If an accounting of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the essence of the Gospel or message of Jesus, then one must wonder why Jesus spent three and a half years as a teacher before His death. What did Jesus teach and how did that figure into the Truth which sets men free and serves as the only way to the Father?
Perhaps we all need to re-evaluate what Jesus was all about and what He meant by the Truth. We have heard a church sponsored version of the Truth, but does that version really mark a commitment to Jesus or is our commitment to something else which diverts us from the real Truth? When Jesus proclaimed that a loyalty to Him involved obedience, was that really a call to Bible study, prayer, and church attendance? It is more logical that what Jesus meant was that allegiance to Him meant a commitment to the Golden Rule and the power of living through loving. To the extent that study, prayer, and attendance facilitate our practice of loving, then these activities are useful; but they are never the real defining elements in demonstrating our dedication to the Truth of Jesus.