Maybe you don't like what I seem to be implying - that our churches can do better when it comes to having Jesus among us. Maybe by now, you're saying, Hey. Jesus is just fine in my church. We exalt Him. For realz.
Fair enough. You exalt the Son of God.
But do you honor Him?
There's quite a difference between these two ideas. When you exalt Jesus, you put Him on a pedestal. He's already there when you come into your building, exalted. Raised high. Lifted up. See? There He is. Right there on the pedestal where we put Him. And it becomes far too easy, through the course of our worship, to concentrate on keeping Him there.
Anytime this Jesus might want to come down and walk among us, we stop. No. No, this won't do. You stay up there on Your pedestal, Jesus. In this church, You are exalted. Anytime we pray in His name and He's ready to move, to respond to our prayer, we stop again. No. No, You just stay up there! See? We have prepared this special, amazing, exalted place for You. Now, be a good Jesus and stay there. Anytime this Jesus might want to break bread with us during communion, if He might actually desire to join us around His own table, we simply can't have it. Not in this church. In this church, Jesus is exalted! He must be sitting in the highest of high places at all times so that we can always see how much higher and bigger and better than us He truly is.
Might as well just nail His butt to the seat.
Exaltation is great; the Lord is clearly to be praised. But He is also to be honored, and that means recognizing Jesus for all He is, not for only what we make Him. It means recognizing that He was created in flesh to walk among flesh. It means realizing that all His best stories take place on the ground, right in the same dirt that we walk around in. It means understanding that Jesus did not come only to be a Savior but also to be a friend. And when we don't let Him be a friend, we fail to honor Him.
When we don't let Him come down from His throne and walk among us, we fail to honor Him. It's like we want a God who saves us, but not one who loves us. It's like we love the idea that we can crucify our God, but not so much the idea that we can eat with Him. It's like we love having a God that we can cry out to, as long as there is no risk whatsoever that He will actually stop and speak to us.
It sounds so silly to say it like that, but that's where we are when we exalt, but do not honor, Jesus. We take His story, strip away almost all of the human element from it, and relegate Him to the Cross and the throne. It's not that the Cross and the throne are not important or beautiful or amazing; they are. It's just...
Can you imagine what Jesus would do in our churches if we'd let Him down from that high place? Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus truly walked among us the way He always wanted to? Can you imagine what would happen if we recognized the true nature of Jesus and not only exalted Him, but honored Him, as well?
We'd be blind men calling out from the side of the road. We'd be bleeding women pushing through the crowds. We'd be hungry masses crowding onto the hillsides. We'd be sinners breaking bread in our homes. We'd be disciples dropping everything for a chance to be a part of this amazing thing that God is doing right here among us. We'd be...a real people of a Real Person. We'd be a real people of God.
And isn't that what we want to be? Isn't that the best possible thing we could ever be?
So I'll ask again: is Jesus truly honored in your church? Or is He merely exalted?