The Pastor’s Pen: July 22, 2018

Theologian N. T. Wright once said, “The Person who walks out of [the pages of the Gospels] to meet us is just central and irreplaceable. He is always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He is always coming at us from different angles … If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but part of the drama that has him as the central character.”

When I was a student intern with Dr. J. Pius Barbour at the Calvary Baptist Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, Dr. Barbour once described me as Jesus freak.” Back in the 60s and 70s, that phrase was used to describe those who were counter-culturists, but who had come to identify Jesus as the archetypal counter-culturist. Jesus lived a life that did not conform to traditional concepts of accomplishment or effectiveness. He never taught “the good life” as climbing the ladder of success, or impressing people with one’s knowledge or competence. He never permitted those who followed him to practice situation ethics. Making a radical commitment to living on principle was never to be compromised as a way to get ahead. In fact, a Jesus-centric view of life was then and now for me the first principle of Christian faith. I wear the description “Jesus freak” as the banner that hangs over my life.

My friend, Dr. Tony Campolo is fond of saying, “When interpreting the Bible, it is the red stuff, the words of Jesus that is the measuring stick.”

Pop culture has adopted the acronym, WWJD:  What Would Jesus Do, as a way to determine decisions. In this case, pop culture gets it right. I have never made a mistake when I have tried to think of what Jesus would do in any given situation. I have made a ton of mistakes when I have allowed other voices to determine my directions. Again, when in doubt, consult the red stuff. It is the key to a Christ-like life.