Summary: Part 1 of a 13 week series Hearing Jesus Again. The purpose of today’s message is to show you how Jesus’ message is commonly misunderstood and to give you a framework for hearing it properly.
A New Hearing for Jesus
Part 1 in series Hearing Jesus Again
Wildwind Community Church
May 3, 2008
Have you ever wondered how the world would be different if Jesus had been a coconut? I mean, what if the person that he was, instead of being the Son of God, the founder of the world’s largest religion, etc., had just been a coconut hanging from some palm tree somewhere? Is it safe to say that Christianity might be a different religion than it is now, or that there would not be one at all? I’m not aware of anything like coconut worship, but perhaps it exists somewhere.
What if instead of a coconut he had been a pine tree? Would that affect the kind of religion Christianity became?
What if instead of a pine tree Jesus had been a Chihuahua or a Siamese Cat? See, now we’re getting into the realm of animals and we’re much more aware of the worship of animals. But Christianity would not be the Christianity we know, would it?
What if instead of a Chihuahua or a Siamese Cat, Jesus had been a carpenter? Yeah, I know he WAS a carpenter, but I mean a regular carpenter – one without any big ideas or anything. Would there be a Christianity today?
What if instead of a carpenter without any big ideas, Jesus was a carpenter who believed he was God? I don’t mean a carpenter who believed he was God and actually WAS, but somebody who believed he was God but was really just a carpenter. You guys ever met somebody who seriously believed they were God? My background is psychology. I’ve met people who seriously believed they were God. And I can say this without exception about all the ones I’ve met, all the ones I’ve read about, and all the ones I’ve seen on video in my training. Not only were none of them remotely capable of starting a religion that would grow to 1.5 billion people, and giving the world some of its most brilliant moral teaching ever, but none of them ever said even one thing I wanted to remember five minutes later. Without exception, people who believe themselves to be God are too deranged to say much of anything worthwhile. So back to my question. What if Jesus had been a carpenter who believed he was God, but really wasn’t? Would Christianity in anything like its present form exist today?
This is fun, let’s keep going! What if Jesus had been a carpenter who believed he was God and really was God, and he believed his sole purpose was to die for our sins so we could go to heaven? What kind of Christianity would that have produced? I have two answers for that. First, a Christianity that offers hope for life after death, but not a whole lot of hope for life before death. Second, precisely the kind of Christianity that is taught in most churches and consequently practiced by most Christians.
People hear me today. You wonder what makes Wildwind so different? This is it – I’m going to spell it out for you more clearly than you’ve ever heard it before. What makes Wildwind so different is that we believe that Jesus was somebody different than most churches believe and teach. It’s not that we DON’T believe Jesus was God and that he died for our sins, and that he had a plan from the beginning to do that. What’s different about Wildwind is that we embrace the idea that Jesus’ life was not about one thing, but about two things. Yes, his life was about going to the cross and dying for your sin and mine so we could have hope after our own deaths. But we also believe that his life was about showing us a way to live in this world that is qualitatively different than how we could live otherwise, so that we can have hope not only for life after death, but hope that there is REAL life BEFORE death – that this life we are living and these bodies we are living in can rise to something higher than mental and emotional and sexual and visual and auditory pleasure. Because we believe this, we teach that our lives now can and should be lived differently. Now let me be clear. We do not teach that our lives can and should be lived differently SO THAT we will go to heaven when we die. We teach that Jesus came to bring life to THIS life, and that if we learn to live the life in THIS WORLD that he taught us how to live, then life in the next world comes naturally and is simply an extension of an eternal kind of life he taught us to begin living while we are still here.