[So I've been reading this book called Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke. You may know him by his viral video on YouTube which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY
The book is essentially all about what it says on the front cover: Why He (Jesus) is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough.
I am in love with this book for how many BURNS it gives to many Christians (including me!) always been a fan of "oh snap" moments ;)
For my own benefit and for others, I will be typing out portions from this book that I resonate with and want a place where I can document it for easy access. ]
Title: Saying Nothing New
I had been a Christian for about a year when I realized Jesus isn't just one of many saviours. Following him is fundamentally different from practicing other world religions. There was something almost upside-down or antithetical to him.
All the other religions center on people's righteousness- what we do and how good we are. Real Christianity centers on Jesus' righteousness- what he has done and how good he is.
All the other religions essentially say, "This is what you have to do to be in right standing with God." Jesus comes to earth and says, "This is what I've freely done for you to put you in right standing with God."
Religion says do. Jesus says done.
Religion is man searching for God. Jesus is God searching for man.
Religion is pursuing God by our moral efforts. Jesus is God pursuing us despite our moral efforts.
Religious people kill for what they believe. Jesus followers die for what they believe.
Jesus wants to make it clear: he isn't taking God's moral law lightly. The only difference is, he didn't coem to crush us with it - which religious people do, like the leaders in John 8- but rather, he came to fulfill it for us. When something is "fulfilled," it means it has reached its end or completion. That's what Jesus said he was doing. He was fulfilling the righteous requirements of it, on our behalf, to give us perfect standing with God.
For example, at the time of writing this, I'm getting marries in a couple of weeks. Once Alyssa and I are married we will no longer be engaged. We fulfilled that requirement, which suited us well for the time between dating and getting marries. We, however, are moving on to something better. That's what Jesus was saying here. It's not like he is abolishing the law. It was there for a reason. It had a purpose. The Old Testament law's role was to out in place to show us how God aligned the universe to work, and also to show us we couldn't live up to his standard.
It's scandalous to say, but one of the uses of the law was to show us we couldn't fully keep it and needed a savior. It was- and still is- a mirror to show us where we need Jesus. Even the animal sacrifices mandated in the law to the Israelites were there to show them they needed a substitute. They couldn't do it on their own, and ultimately Jesus fulfilled that requirement.
So Jesus came and fulfilled the requirements of it to satisfy God. He lived perfectly. And then instead of the Old Testament law becoming our standard or law, Jesus himself became our law. He gave us perfect standing by fulfilling God's righteous requirements and then on the cross took all our sin, failure, guilt and shame. A pretty sweet exchange, if you ask me. And now we no longer solely live up to an external code, but rather live in relationship with a person who then shows us how to live in relationship with a person who then shows us how to properly view that code. Jesus became the face of the Law rather than the concrete tables Moses is always holding in those ancient depictions.
Love is the new law.
Title: The Meaning Behind
When I'd ask my friends about Jesus they'd say, "He's a nice guy." Or, "He has good moral principles, but he's not God."
Sadly, that's one of the most unintelligent things a person can say. If Jesus claimed to be God, claimed to forgive sins, and claimed to heal the sick, then either he did those things, or he was a despicable liar. Either he is who he says he is- God- or he has deceived billions and billions for the last 2 thousand years. That wouldn't make him a good moral teacher; it would make him the most damnable person on earth. Either he's God or he deserves to be cast into human history as one of the worst. And that's why, in my conversations with others, I take the focus off what we do for God and put it on what he has done for us so we have to actually deal with him.
We can talk theory until we are blue in the face. We can talk about what the word God even means. But you start investigating and pushing into this guy from Nazareth who lived two thousand years ago, and you will get somewhere. You will have to face up to who he is, what he has done, and what you will do about it.
Be careful when you pursue the truth, because you just might find him.