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Sometimes, in order to learn about something, we have to (un)learn all of the things we thought we knew about that something first.

In our pursuit of Jesus, sometimes we have to (un)learn what we thought we knew about Jesus, in order to (re)learn about the real Jesus that lay behind our presuppositions, prejudices and preconceived ideas.

Allow me to illustrate.

For many of us, our understanding of the Jesus story looks something like this ...

The Jesus Story—Jesus Died for My Sins

I am a sinner.
Jesus died for my sins.
I need to ask Jesus into my heart and He will forgive my sins.

I need to avoid being contaminated by the world by secluding myself from it, while often criticizing everything within it. The earth is bad.
The earth will one day be destroyed, so caring for it is a waste of time.

I will go to heaven when I die.

I will not go to hell.

I will live in the clouds with Jesus and sing all day long, while everyone else will burn forever in eternal conscious torment.

For many people, this is what the Jesus story is all about—the only reason why Jesus came.

My Sin.
My Savior.
My Salvation.
My Seclusion.
My Death.
My Heaven.

The way we read and understand the Jesus story requires revision.

Not the actual story of Jesus as we read it in the Gospel accounts, but our interpretation, understanding and application of the story.

This is what the Jesus story really looks like ...

The Jesus Story—A King and His Kingdom

God is love.

By and for love, God created all things, including human beings.
Human beings are image bearers—created in the image of God.
God desired that people would love Him freely in return. This required freedom. Love always requires freedom.
Genuine human freedom created risk—human beings could choose to serve or not to serve God.
Some chose not to serve.
Sin—living without God—came to be.

God set a plan in motion to turn the whole thing around—from the ground up.
God chose to work through Israel and its people to bring about a restoration plan for the entire creation.
Israel’s story pointed toward a promised Messiah who would inaugurate God’s kingdom dream.
Israel’s story found its fulfillment and culmination in Jesus, God’s Messiah-King.

Jesus demonstrated, in both word and deed, that the long-awaited kingdom had come in Him—in part.
But the King and His kingdom didn’t meet our expectations.
His kingdom was open to everyone.
The poor, lonely, oppressed and ostracized were welcomed in. This was something new.
King Jesus showed us what God was like and what we as humans could be like.

Our image is being restored.

God’s kingdom came not in power but weakness.
God’s kingdom came not through violence but peace.
God’s kingdom came not through victory over enemies but through the death of the King for His enemies.
Enemy-love dominated Jesus’ kingdom. The cross was God’s love on display.

King Jesus died.

King Jesus descended—for now.

King Jesus rose again!

He appeared to many.

King Jesus ascended—for now.

Our image is being restored.

The new creation has begun.
New creation was promised for the whole creation.
God’s kingdom had come—God’s kingdom was coming.

The Church was born—filling up with Jesus-followers.
The Holy Spirit was given to these followers to enable them to bear witness to the King and His kingdom.
The Holy Spirit demonstrated that the kingdom had come in word and deed—through them.
Signs of the kingdom were everywhere—the cosmic restoration plan was alive and well.

Our image is being restored.

People began to embrace the King and His kingdom.
Kingdom people were beginning to crop up everywhere—even amongst the Gentiles.
God’s kingdom was expanding.
The Spirit of King Jesus was moving.
Kingdom people were everywhere.
Signs of the kingdom were everywhere.

Our image is being restored.

The promised renewed creation is already bursting at the seams.
The promise is being seen even now in these kingdom people.
The Spirit of the King is moving—pointing people to the King and the promise of a renewed Kingdom world—God’s good world.

We wait. We work. We wait.

The King will one day return to judge both the living and the dead.
The King will put the world to rights. Love, justice and peace will reign in His kingdom.

The King has returned!

The renewed heavens and earth are here—to stay.
The Enemy is destroyed—forever.

Love has won!

Our image is restored!

Long live the King!

Jeff K. Clarke is a blogger and an award-winning writer of articles and book reviews in a variety of faith-based publications. The goal of his blog is to place Jesus at the center of our discussions. From there, all of our questions, ideas and reflections are placed through the filter and lens of a Jesus (Re)Centered.

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Lawrence Webb

commented on Jun 9, 2015

Thank you for taking us beyond the Me, Me, Me of the gospel story. You put the salvation story in a much broader AND deeper frame. I AM important to God, and I DO want to go to heaven. But the Christian message is ever so much more than Me and My salvation.

Brenda Phillips

commented on Jun 9, 2015

So true Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners Jesus said He is the way the truth and the life: no man come unto the Father but by Him.

John Gullick

commented on Jun 9, 2015

Jesus said From then on Jesus began to preach, "Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."Are repentance and judgement difficult subjects that we avoid in this discussion?

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