Christians are people who believe Jesus.
This simple identity goes beyond believing facts about Jesus. That he is the Son of God, that he died for the sins of humanity, that he conquered death.
Believing Jesus means that when Jesus opens his mouth to teach us, we listen and obey.
The most succinct way to say this is: Jesus is Lord.
This is the absolute center of the Christian faith.
It is non-negotiable.
Many have pointed out that a believer does not say, “Jesus says… but, let’s be realistic.”
The Faith just doesn’t work that way.
When the Apostle Peter is told by Jesus to “kill and eat” unclean animals he says, “No, Lord.”
Jesus doesn’t accept this answer and has to show Peter the vision over and over again until Peter gets it (See Acts 10).
Scripture is full of people who question God’s directives. And God works with these people until they are on board… but the end is always the same:
Submission to God’s will.
Because “Lord” means “boss.”
Christians listen to and obey Jesus.
We fail, we sin, we question, and we doubt.
But if we don’t come back to believing that Jesus is right.
Then we don’t really believe.
So, with the sincere hope that we are on the same page, allow me to share some teachings of Jesus:
“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” (Luke 17:33)
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
“If someone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” (Luke 6:29)
“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:35)
“Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:10, all quotes are ESV).
I often find people unconsciously adding a phrase to the end of these teachings that is actually missing from the original text.
“Love your enemies” … except when they are really, really evil.
“Turn the other cheek” … except when you should defend yourself.
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” …except when your job is on the line.
I stand indicted.
As you spend this week weighing the news broadcasts and opinions traveling the airways—
as people riot in American cities, as refugees await a verdict on their fate, as brothers and sisters are violently murdered for their faith
— revisit the teachings of Jesus. Look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
And ask yourself, “Do I believe what Jesus is saying?”