There is, of course, a glaring problem when we say that we must talk about the whole truth of Jesus when we speak of Him. And that is...none of us knows the whole truth. We are finite human beings who are limited in our understanding of divine things, and most of us are even more limited than that - we are limited by our experiences, by our circumstances, by our need of Him. Some of us just haven't met much of Jesus; others of us have met much more, but not all of Him. So if the standard is that we must speak the whole truth of Jesus, who among us can speak at all?
That's not the point. The point is not to silence everyone and to say that we cannot speak of God. The point is that we have to be mindful of the ways that we do speak. There is a way to talk about Jesus without knowing the whole truth but without pretending that there isn't one.
And that's the problem that we run into in things like this pastor wrote - he was pretending that what he said about Jesus was the whole truth when anyone who knows Jesus at all knows that it is not.
So what do we do?
First, we have to recognize the limits of our own knowledge. We have to be a people who say, Jesus is greater even than my understanding of Him. He is greater even than this. We can absolutely talk about the things that we love about Jesus and the things that make us love Him, but we have to be willing to say that what we know is so limited and that Jesus is even greater than we are able to say.
Second, we have to be cautious about how we present Jesus. When you talk about Jesus, does He look an awful lot like you? Does He think an awful lot like you? Does He sound an awful lot like you? Then you're probably not presenting a full picture of Jesus. This is a moment when we have to watch ourselves and ask - are we talking about Jesus at all? Or are we really just talking about ourselves?
This is true, by the way, when we listen to someone else talk about Jesus, too. Does the Jesus they are talking about sound a little too much like the person who is doing the talking? Then, we should be wary of what is being said.
Third, we can ask if what we are saying is true about the whole heart of Jesus that we do know. Most of us are aware when we are putting an emphasis in a certain place. Most of us can feel that tug of a competing truth, of something that makes what we're saying just a little bit messier. Most of us know this because in the back of our mind, we're just hoping no one else brings it up. When you're talking about Jesus, are you hoping there's no question-and-answer session? Are you hoping that no one's going to bring up that thing that you don't have an answer for in the context in which you're presenting Him? Then that, too, might be a clue that you're skewing the conversation a bit.
The easy way to address this is to go back to guideline number one - be the first to bring it up. Admit that there is this other thing about Jesus that doesn't fit neatly in the box you're building right now, but that it is nonetheless just as true as the rest of the things you're saying. Put it out there that you're wrestling with this, and let it be okay to wrestle with it. Give others permission to wrestle with it. Make it a normal part of our faith journey that we wrestle with the truth about Jesus sometimes. That's okay. And you know what? It is a normal part of our faith journey, whether we like to talk about it or not.
But let us like to talk about Jesus. Let us be a people who love talking about Him. What we understand, what we don't understand, what we love, what makes us love Him, what we know, what we're still learning. Let's talk about Jesus, and let's lead the conversation.
But let's really talk about Jesus and not just talk about ourselves.