I have had the privilege recently to dialogue with quite a few people about their personal spiritual beliefs about God and what happens after you die. The reason for this was a tragedy, a childhood friend of mine died of an accidental overdose and dozens of his closest buddies came to town for his funeral. A bunch of us met up to hang out and work through the unexpected death and it naturally led into many conversations about what happens after you die as well as if it is possible to know about the reality of God’s existence and what he wants us to know.
There were many different views ranging from atheistic and agnostic beliefs to traditional Christian beliefs. Naturally, I took it as an opportunity to explain why I personally put all my stock in the person of Jesus Christ. While I have had many opportunities in the past to share about why I believe in Jesus Christ and trust that he will save me from death, I gained a much deeper appreciation for the simplicity of the message as I shared it this past weekend.
For those who do believe in a “higher power,” there are many who believe that God reveals truth piecemeal and in various philosophies and religions. In essence, all religions are trying to teach the same thing just in different ways to different cultures; I call this the jigsaw puzzle theology. Basically, it is left up to us to pick and choose the different pieces of the puzzle and arrange them into a coherent picture of God.
Jesus, however, taught a much different message…himself. Sure, he taught many good things (even revolutionary) about how we should treat people and what God wants us to do, but his primary message was to “come to,” “believe,” and “follow” him. He taught people to simply believe in him, to stay connected to him, and to follow him and to his words and that they would be accepted by God solely based on their connection to him.
Something that Paul, the apostle, wrote was that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus]” and that “in Christ all the fullness of God lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Colossians). In the same letter, Paul wrote that “the Son is the image of the invisible God.” What is being explained is that God chose to reveal himself to the world, in his FULLNESS, in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we have Jesus Christ, we are brought to the fullness of God.
Why this way?
I will be honest, this is purely speculation on my part but I personally think God revealed himself to us in this way, first because of his love for us and, secondly because of our weakness in understanding the mystery and depth of God. God chose to reveal himself to us through a single person whom we can relate to. Even a small child with no developed intelligence can cling to a person in a loving relationship, it does not take a developed philosophy or education to have this. And because of this, literally any single person can come to God through the person of Jesus Christ regardless of status, intelligence, age, or level of knowledge or education.
God gave us a person to cling to in a loving relationship first. The life of the Christian then becomes a progression of growing deeper in this relationship and in the knowledge of what they have in the person of Jesus Christ.
Fixed on Jesus
This is why it is written that we should “fix our eyes on Jesus.” No matter where you are in your personal journey with God, there is never a time when you can leave a focus on Jesus and progress to something better or more fulfilling. Everything apart from a focus on Christ is man made religion and will leave you empty and void of the “fullness of God” that is in Christ.
Final Thought, the gospel message
The word “gospel” simply means “good news.” So the gospel of Jesus is simply the good news about what he has done for us and what he offers us. He chose to die in our place, taking the punishment that we deserved because of the sin within all of us. He did this so that we could be forgiven of all our sin and shame and be given the gift of the perfect and sinless nature of God. After being buried, Jesus was raised to life proving he has conquered death and now he offers everyone the gift of eternal life in a transformed immortal body, just like his own body that he was raised in. He promises that if we put our faith in him by believing that he was in fact raised from the dead and confessing him as Lord (basically the CEO of our life) then we will be saved. When we approach God in this way, through believing in Jesus Christ and his resurrection, Jesus promises to give us his very own spirit, the Holy Spirit, to come live within us as our guide and comforter in this life.
The only question that remains is, what is keeping you from a relationship with the God of the universe by completely trusting in the person of Jesus Christ?