Monday, July 23, 2012

Does Jesus Want to Be Worshiped?

I've been close to death a bit recently. Between the death of a beloved aunt in my wife's family and some other close friends experiencing similar losses, I've been contemplating our perception of Christ in light of afterlife.

There have been a lot of comments about the newly dead "being with Jesus" or "meeting relatives in heaven," and the like. Sentiments, which can be very comforting, but which I don't believe are quite supported by scripture - at least not as definitively as everyone seems to believe.

One of those phrases has gotten be thinking - someone said, "I envy her being able to see Jesus face to face." It struck me strange. Obviously I admire Jesus quite a bit and I am certainly grateful for everything that he has done for us - at the same time I wonder if I would be starstruck meeting Jesus. What's more, I wonder if Jesus would ever have wanted me to be?

There's a lot made of Christ downplaying himself while on earth. He was always deferring to the Father and pointing people to God. There's little overt reference from Jesus concerning himself - so little, in fact, that there were hundreds of years of doctrinal controversies about whether Jesus Christ was God at all.

Perhaps because of those problems, we seem, today, to have relegated Jesus' humanity to the back-burner. Yes, Jesus is human, but he is God! The life, ministry, teaching, and gospels of Jesus Christ seem to do the opposite. There's a casual reference to his divinity, but mostly they are about the ways in which human beings can live in the way God created us to live.

We are not fascinated by Jesus because of his power, but because of his humility, because of his embrace of human frailty.

Jesus never asked to be worshiped. He never expected it. Most times when people tried, he rebuked them or asked them to wait for his death and resurrection. I'm not arguing that we should not worship Christ, but simply that it doesn't seem like something he wants us to do with him present in the room.

When I look forward to the consummation of all things, I look forward to a world of justice - where the wolf and the lamb lay together, where enemies embrace, and love reigns in the absence of fear and loneliness. I don't really look forward to spending time with Jesus, I look forward to living in the world he has created and redeemed.

I'm sure Jesus will spend plenty of time in eternity with each of his creatures. We are all beloved and important - from the most dedicated saint, to the lowliest plants and animals. I don't want to condemn our looking forward to any of that. I'm just not sure we're going to want to spend more time with Jesus than with anyone else.

If we really believe the words we speak and the power of the Holy Spirit - eternity begins now. While we await the fulfillment of the promise, the new Kingdom has already begun. We are already living into the future we'll live for eternity. Perhaps our worship of Jesus Christ is less about awe for the savior and more about loving those he loves.

In a world remade in love, in a word absent selfishness and sin, sure, Jesus is the reason we are here, but he's not any more important than anyone else - and I think that's precisely the way he wants it to be.

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