how i met your Jesus

yellowchrist

All this discussion about the legitimacy of ethnic theology got me to think about how we become Christian in the first place.  I realized that our introduction to Jesus is almost always mediated.  Not too many Christians today have a Damascus Road experience; we depend on others to tell us the good news of Jesus Christ.

So let’s think about how I met your Jesus:

–> Jesus Christ: The chief cornerstone of our faith, but we have no direct access.

–> Scriptures: This is how we know anything about Jesus, but Scripture has different portraits of Jesus Christ.

–> theologies: We need something to help us make sense of the Scriptures.  Theologies are written to draw out themes significant to a particular culture and context.  Some voices in Scripture are necessarily magnified, and others muted.

–> churches: When one theology works, we form communities around that understanding of the grand story.

–> me: Because of the compelling story of Jesus Christ, understood through the lens of a particular church, someone at church tells me the good news.  And I believe.

Now this sequence gets interesting because our relationship with Jesus does not stay mediated.  There is the possibility of a personal relationship with the Saviour of the world (I know this is loaded language, I recognize that vocabulary is not in Scripture, so I acknowledge I’m operating out of a theology– unavoidable).

As we try to stay faithful to Christ and learn more, some of us will begin to feel tension with these different sources.  So we hear stories of 1st gen/2nd gen turmoil in ethnic, immigrant churches.  We start to wonder how well the theology we’ve inherited fits our community.  And we wrestle with how to read Scripture for the called out community today.

I don’t think this is new; I think this is the pattern of church history.  The fear is that our resistance is not really part of the movement of the Holy Spirit.  I confess that fear, and often think about how things would be so much easier if I just stop questioning and went with the flow.

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Comments

  1. Steve says:

    When you say, “How I met your Jesus,” who is “you?”

  2. Yes, no matter what, the gospel message presented by people will always be colored by culture. The greater the cultural discrepancy between the message and the message receiver, the more tension is caused.

    In my adulthood I find myself having to re-learn a lot of things I was taught growing up in a Chinese church. It mostly revolves around replacing legalism with grace. I don’t regret the foundation I have, though. I simply have to adjust.

  3. dannyyang says:

    it’s intentionally ambiguous. “you” could be immediate family, friend from church, campus fellowship classmate, etc. i’m being presumptuous and trying to speak for everyone’s experience. the main point: most of us first meet Jesus through someone else, and all the constructions of Jesus that person has. not a bad thing, just something to acknowledge.

    in other words, your “you” would probably different from my “you” … hope that makes sense.

  4. Steve says:

    OK, I get it now.

  5. Steve says:

    I would contend that even the decision to replace “legalism” with “grace” is simply a reflection of the era and culture you’ve existed in.

  6. Wayne Park says:

    mm hmm. NT Wright’s arguing that these days. Challenging the establishment.

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