Shel Boese / Shelby Boese – so I joined the Christian & Missionary Alliance 7 years ago for many great reasons. But the main reason is because it’s ALL about Jesus. AB Simpson had an apostolic anointing on his life in the late 1800s started a missionary agency for the purpose of uniting Christians cross-denominationally and independent churches to send missionaries. We are one of the VERY FEW denominations that started as a para-church agency UNITING cross-denominationally – instead of focusing on being “holier” than the guys down the street.
His passion and genius was that to unite we had to identify what is primary and what is not to the Gospel. In short he created sound bites waaaay before Rick Warren made it so for the church. He said it’s All about Jesus – Jesus Only – as our center of unity. He summarized points of unity in terms of the work of Jesus and our co-operation with Him in a thing he called the four-fold gospel http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/fourfold-gospel. That is still the heart of the Alliance and two other denominations that were directly impacted by the Alliance – the Assemblies of God (in the A/G Sanctifier – was changed to “Baptizer” and these are the A/G’s 4-cardinal doctrines) and the Foursqaure church (Obvious in the name – Aimee Semple McPherson directly took this from the A/G and the Alliance) – they both kept and modified AB Simpson’s 4-fold gospel.
We are united in sharing Jesus and His work as Savior, Baptizer/Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.
We have NO problem talking about Jesus and His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Internet Monk has a great article that addresses a problem may we NEVER have…
I am a man of words. Not a man of few words—just ask those who have spent any time with me. I read and write and speak in words. We all use words everyday in one way or another. As Christians, we are people of The Word.
But I’ve noticed there are certain words we avoid because they make us uncomfortable. We’ll look at two such words today. Stand by to squirm.
Why is it that Christians of all people have so much trouble with the name of Jesus? “God?” No problem. “Lord?” Even better. “Father.” “Supreme Being.” “The Almighty.” All of these are perfectly acceptable names in referring to deity. God, etc., keeps us at arm’s length—and a very long arm at that—from any actual encounter with the divine.
But Jesus? That gets just a bit too personal. His name is raw and earthy. God is in the heavens. He is safely distant, coming only when we call for him. But Jesus? Jesus is intrusive. He is here. He wears sandals and a tunic and eats fish and rides donkeys and makes mud from spit and dirt. Jesus doesn’t wait to be invited—he barges right into life.
Jesus upends lives everywhere he goes, starting before he was born. Jesus invaded—in a very literal way—the lives of a young teenage girl and her fiance. An angel came to speak to the young girl in person, and in a dream to her fiance. Both of their lives were changed forever because of Jesus. Joseph and Mary were doing all the right things, and now were the center of a scandal not of their making. It was to this Joseph—we are told he was a good man—that it was told the child’s name would be Jesus.
Jesus. A real, common, ordinary name that now brings great offense when it is spoken.
Jesus changed lives wherever he went. He healed people who seemed to be content in their distress and disease. He cast out demons, one time destroying another’s livelihood by sending the evil spirits into a herd of pigs that went sailing over a cliff. He scared a servant silly by telling him to take a pitcher of washing-water to the host of a wedding to drink. How was the servant to know it would become fine wine? Jesus became a name associated with miracles—free food, coins in the mouths of fish, dead people suddenly undead—but also with crazy talk.
Yes, his sermons were delivered with authority the Jews had never before encountered. His parables were interesting stories. Yet it seemed whenever the crowds became too large, too interested in what was in this for them, that Jesus would say something to drive them away.
“Eat my flesh. Drink my blood.”
“Hate your spouse, hate your parents, hate your kids.”
“Don’t go bury your father. He’s dead. Leave him be. Follow me.”
This was Jesus speaking then, and he speaks yet today. And that is why the name of Jesus makes so many uncomfortable.
In the third book of his Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis’s character Mark Studdock shows his discomfort when he hears the name of Jesus.
And at the name of Jesus, Mark, who would have lectured on abortion or perversion to an audience of young women without a qualm, felt himself so embarrassed that he knew his cheeks were slightly reddening; and he became so angry with himself and Mr. Straik at this discovery that they then proceeded to redden very much indeed. This was exactly the kind of conversation he could not endure; and never since the well-remembered misery of scripture lessons at school had he felt so uncomfortable.
That is the case with so many of us still today. We are ok with talking about anything but Jesus.
Do you think I’m wrong? You think I am overstating my case? Visit just about any evangelical church you like this coming Sunday. Listen—really listen—to the lyrics of the songs sung. Count the number of times the name of Jesus is mentioned. You will hear “Lord,” “God,” “King.” But seldom will you sing the name of Jesus. In my own church we can go weeks without the name of Jesus appearing in any of the songs’ lyrics.
When the music is over and the pastor begins his sermon, start the count again. How often will he or she name the name that we claim is above all names? Michael Spencer wrote about Christless preaching many years ago. I dare say the situation has not improved in the least.
So is this just a straw man I am building? Does it really matter whether we use the name of Jesus or not? I believe it does for these reasons.
1. When we leave Jesus out of our songs, we tend to sing about us. The focus becomes on what we are doing for God, how much we love him, how we are dancing in the river, or whatever metaphor lends itself to making us feel good about ourselves. So many songs that leave out Jesus are simply emotional feel-good sing-alongs that are empty of any true worship of the only one worthy of worship. And that one is not you and it is not me.
2. Leaving Jesus out of sermons likewise allows the focus to be turned onto how we can become better people. Better parents, better employees, better church-goers. Without Jesus we end up with sermons on how to have great sex, how much is a true tithe, what party is God’s chosen party that election cycle. Without Jesus as the center of every sermon there is no Gospel message. And if we are not preaching the Gospel, we are wasting our time.
3. Without Jesus, all we have is a moralistic religion, and a not very fun one at that. We would be better off to each buy a copy of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, work the system, and try to make as much money and find as much happiness as we can. Without Jesus, there is no Christianity. Without Jesus we are left with churchianity—and that makes us of all men most miserable.
Jesus offends. The name of Jesus is in-your-face offensive, and especially to those who call themselves Christians but really are most interested in getting what they want out of life. The name of Jesus causes demons to tremble, even those demons we allow to ride on our shoulders. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, so it is not surprising our knees buckle on hearing his name even now. Give me a nice, mellow “Lord” if you please. Keep your earthy Jesus to yourself. That way I don’t have to face his demands on my life.
When I began working with Michael on becoming a book author, I asked him a question I had asked hundreds of authors: If you could write only one book in your lifetime, what would that be? He didn’t hesitate. “I want to write about our need to be Jesus-shaped people,” he said. “We need our lives to be based on Jesus, not church, not religion.” Unfortunately for Michael, that is the only book he ever did write. Fortunately for us, he did write Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality. May we never forget we are Jesus people. May we never be offended at the name of Jesus.
May we say, sing, speak the name above every name every chance we can.