~ If Christ is Not God, He is a Bad Teacher ~
In my view, asking someone to "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior" is arrogant, if not blasphemous. Firstly, is there such a thing as an "impersonal" Savior? Secondly, who are we to put ourselves in such a position of power? Here is how some responded to the Christ:
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead person." (Revelations 1:17) "When the disciples heard the voice, they were so afraid [fearfully reverent] that they fell flat on the ground." (Matthew 17:6) "When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshipped him." (Matthew 2:11a) "...he knelt down in front of Jesus and said, 'Lord, don't come near me! I am a sinner.'" (Luke 5:8)
These are not images of people "accepting" Jesus! Acceptance is quite egocentric and Jesus taught against it, saying instead that we must deny ourselves, lose our lives, carry our crosses and follow Him. The God of all pleading with His creation to "accept" Him is a pathetic idea. Instead, Christ didn't plead. He commanded, "Follow Me;" "Love God with all your heart, strength and mind;" "I am the Truth, the Life, the Way, and no one comes to the Father except by Me."
Another disconcerting trend is political inclusiveness applied to spiritual traditions. We increasingly hear or read, "Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and other avatars" used in the same sentence, or Jesus being called a "great spiritual teacher" or "a highly evolved being." This has put a subtle pressure on Christians: "Well, we recognize your avatar (incarnation of God), why can't you recognize ours?" Not all roads lead to Rome anymore, not all diets lead to good health, and not all spiritual paths lead to God.
There are serious distinctions as well as commonalities among the "avatars." None other than Christ would declare, "But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. My flesh is the true food and my blood is the true drink. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me and I am one with you." (John 6:54-56)
None other than Christ would instruct us to refer to the Creator as "Dad" (Abba). None other than Christ would become the servant of His creation: "You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other." (John 13:13-14) None other than Christ would claim to resurrect after death and ascend into the heavenly realm and make good on His claim.
As a result of His spiritual teachings, St. John wrote, "Because of what Jesus said, many of his disciples turned their backs on him and stopped following him." (John 6:66) Jesus promised persecution for His followers. St. Peter wrote, "Count it a blessing when you suffer for being a Christian. This shows that God's glorious Spirit is with you." (1 Peter 4:14) The distinctions between Christ's teachings and the other "avatars" sets Him so far apart from the others that He is either the Avatar, the Incarnation of God, or He is evil and the most deceitful spiritual teacher of all time.
Christ proclaimed Himself as the Redeemer of humankind and the Son of the Most High God, the Way, the Truth and the Life. If He is not, then He is the ultimate blasphemer. If He faked His resurrection and ascension, He committed the ultimate hoax. If He is not the Christ and Messiah predicted throughout the Old Testament, He caused millions of people to live under a serious illusion and millions to suffer physical and emotional persecution and death in vain. What would Christ's motive be? Only evil. We would then agree with the "many of them" who said "He has a demon in him. He is crazy! Why listen to him?" (John 10:20) Christ would not be a "great spiritual teacher." He would be a crazy, demonic fake, unless He is indeed God.
So the people of this world must choose, as there is no middle ground possible. Paul writes, "Don't let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ." (Colossians 2:8) Christ Himself wants us to choose: "...you are not cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Revelations 3:15-16)
God does great things with spiritually cold people. Moses argued with God about God's mission for him. Being cold was typical of most prophets who also resisted God's dictates. Jeremiah laments, "Put a curse on the day I was born! ...Why did I have to be born? Was it just to suffer and die in shame?" (Jeremiah 20:14a,18) When God gave Jonah his assignment, "Jonah ran from the Lord" toward Spain. (Jonah 1:3) St. Paul was the coldest of official persecutors and executors of the early Christians, but Christ transformed him into one of His greatest apostles and missionaries. Of course, God does equally great things with spiritually hot people.
There is, however, something spiritually fatal about the non-commitment of lukewarm people. Perhaps they are too middle-road to care. Perhaps they are those who arrogantly think they can make their own way or truth, whom Jesus said are "only thieves and robbers" who "climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate... I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep." (John 10:1,7) They are the ones that say, "Jesus was a great man and teacher, along with..." Christians, Christ's followers, should feel more disgusted, more like spitting those words out than upon hearing "Jesus was a fake and a hoax."
Let's urge others to get off the fence. Let's point to the Gate and say "In or out." That is one way to honor our Lord, Master and Avatar, the Word made human. Another way to honor Him is to get rid of this controlling notion of "accepting" Him and, instead, fall flat on our faces at His feet, in embrace and worship.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © April 7, 2001
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