Thursday, February 22, 2024

An Incomplete Truth

Another criticism of the "He gets us" big football game ads was that they didn't go far enough in presenting the message of Christ. They weren't holistic. They didn't get everything exactly right in all its complicatedness. 

Specifically, one of the criticisms is that the ads "only" showed Jesus loving persons. 

On the surface, that seems strange. And there are more layers of complaint that talk about what kinds of persons the ads specifically showed Jesus loving - those who think it was too diverse, too slanted in one direction over another, not diverse enough, not realistic, whatever. For example, one of the ads showed an entire series of the washing of feet, and there were voices that came out and said, wait a minute. Can we talk about these persons for a second?

This draws us back into the grace vs. truth debate, which is as old as Christianity itself. Are we loving or speaking truth? Are we doing both? Are we doing one more than the other?

Really, though, a lot of this boils down to the pushback against the "new" definition of Christ that's gaining traction in more liberal branches of Christianity, pushed by the world - that Jesus loves everyone indiscriminately and doesn't require anything from you for His love. 

It's...a half-truth. Kinda. 

It's true that Jesus loves you. Just the way you are. It's true that He came, lived, died, and rose again for you while you're still broken, while you're still rebellious, while you're still a sinner. It's true that there's not anything that you have to do to obtain the love of God; God is love, and He loves you. 

But it's not true that He doesn't want you to change. That's true no matter who you are, what you believe, how good you think you are, what good works you do. There's not a single example that we have anywhere in all of Scripture where either God or Christ comes to a human being and says, "Don't change a thing. You're perfect just the way you are."

Not a single one. 

God always wants us to grow. He always wants us to change. He's always pushing us to be more loving, more gracious, more merciful, more just, more righteous, more right-hearted, more faithful, more true. He's always calling us to come closer to Him, and when we come closer to Him, we necessarily change more and more into His likeness - the image we were created in in the first place. 

God's not interested in anyone who is not willing to grow. So the idea that you can be who you are and stay as you are and earn God's full and wholehearted approval is a lie. We'll just call it what it is - it's a lie. No, He won't love you less if you don't change, but we can't pretend that God's love is the same as God's approval. 

There is none among us righteous, no, not one. 

So the criticism that the commercials didn't go far enough in presenting truth next to love do have some merit. They leave in the air the possibility that one might come to the same conclusions about Jesus that liberal Christianity has been trying to push - namely, that He has no standards when it comes to human beings. He just loves and is happy with everyone just the way things are. 

At the same time, we have to realize that the truth part of the Christian faith is...really complicated in a post-truth world. 

(To be continued)

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