Yesterday, we looked at what Hebrews meant when it said that we don't have to trace our lineage all the way back to God any more, for God Himself has come to us in Jesus Christ and that changed everything. (Such is the miracle of Christmas.) We saw how Paul liked to deconstruct this same argument, tracing his own lineage back through the Pharisees and his legalism and then coming to the conclusion that absolutely none of that matters now that Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Now that Jesus drew near to him. Now that Immanuel - God is with us.
And yet, aren't we still doing this? Aren't we still so busy trying to prove ourselves by some list of measurements of our own righteousness or sacredness that we still miss how completely unnecessary it is?
We talk about what church we go to and how long we've been going there. We talk about all of the extra-church activities that we've been involved in - the mission trips, the community meals, the sports ministry, the outreach programs. We talk about the ministries in which we've served - the devotionals we've shared, the classes we've taught, the children we've mentored, the light bulbs we've changed, the floors we've scrubbed, the monies we've counted, the plates we've passed.
We declare our Christianity in bumper stickers and T-shirts and the occasional pieces of jewelry, and we tell the world, "If you want to know my way to God, this is it." If you want to know how I got to the holy place, here's my path. If you want to know the legitimacy of my faith, you can follow this map and see it plain as day.
No wonder the world isn't impressed with our Jesus. He's a lot of work.
And the truth is that these have become the marks of Christ on our lives, which means, He's not even really all that impressive. We wear a T-shirt with our church name on it, but we wear T-shirts with a bunch of other brand names on them, too. We have a bumper sticker declaring our faith, but it's right next to one declaring our vote. We wear a cross around our necks and a fancy circle of leaves around our finger. Jesus is...not unlike the rest of the adornments of living in a branded world. He's just one of the brands to which we have given our allegiance.
Aeropostale. Nike. Doritos. Jesus.
He's one cause we support, one name we claim, one thing we do. And for some reason, we're proud of this. For some reason, we wear this proudly and say, "Yep. Jesus is my thing."
But Jesus didn't come to be your thing. Jesus didn't come to be my thing. Jesus didn't come so that we could continue to try to trace our way back to Him.
He came to show that He is with us. He came to show that He loves us. He came to show us that all of the T-shirts and bumper stickers and genealogies aren't necessary any more. He came to show us that we don't have to prove our way back to Him because He has made His way to us. Immanuel. God is with us.