We’ve become a little too nonchalant about Jesus. In our songs and conversations, we have reduced Him to a permissive accomplice, a smiling confidante in constant agreement with our every whim.
He is an eviscerated Christ, mutilated by our pride. It is our pride that’s behind it all. Why else would we define boundless love as unchallenging approval if we weren’t obsessed with puffing ourselves up? If, as our mantra says, Jesus fully understands and loves us, He then should challenge us to be and do better. That would involve a lot of tough conversations.
Of course, in Jesus, the Divine has been encapsulated into accessible humanity. Jesus comes to us at our level but we should always remember that He is stooping. His total humility cannot obscure His terrific condescension. He is like us but a whole lot more.
Revelation is meant to be taken seriously. That’s why John’s vision of Jesus was so striking as to make him fall flat on his face. As I heard Sigve Tonstad say, “Revelation is meaningful because understanding is possible.” Quivering fear stands in the way of understanding and so Jesus must bid John, “Don’t be afraid.”
Somebody ought to forward that memo to dour-faced evangelists bent on striking hearts with fear. Revelation is meant to inspire obedience springing from understanding. They need to learn humility too because their prophetic charts and proof texts can lead them to trust in their limited knowledge of the future instead of the Jesus who holds it.
We need to keep the balance between the “God out there” and the “God in my heart”. Both perspectives are true but both have pitfalls: fear and presumption. The line between fear and reverence is a frightfully thin one but we can and need to tremble before Jesus without fearing Him. This is only possible if we behold Him as He is revealed.