What do you think of Christ?
By Peter Youngren
SOME think that Christ is Jesus’ surname. Others recognize that Christ is a Greek word that corresponds to the Hebrew Messiah –the anointed one. That’s good as far as it goes, but there is a lot more to discover.
Jesus, Christ and Lord; we often use these names and titles interchangeably, yet each has a distinct meaning. We read that God made Jesus “both Lord and Christ,”
Acts 2:36. Lord and Christ? What’s the difference and does it matter? Jesus inquired from the Pharisees: What do you think about the Christ?
Matthew 22:42. I pass the question on to you; who is Christ to you?
The expression – in Christ – appears 164 times in Scripture, but what does it mean? If the Christ vision is only about one person who lived 2,000 years ago, that’s great but of limited interest. The vision of Christ that I propose is much grander – it includes everyone. To discover Christ who came in Bethlehem is to discover the upholder of the universe – the One in whom we and every created thing have our existence.
Consider the following from the Bible:
• Christ is before all things.
• All things were made by Christ.
• In Christ all things consist.
• Everything is upheld by the word of Christ’s power.
• At the end of time, everything will be put under Christ.
The expression – in Christ – appears 164 times in Scripture, but what does it mean?
This leaves no room for devil phobia.
Christ permeates all
Scientists grapple with how atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons, quarks and sub-particles are held together. One scientist noted in Discovery Magazine, that “the further you study this, it becomes simply mystical”. In other words, the complexity of how nature consists is beyond the understanding of the greatest scientific minds.
Paul wrote, Christ is all and in all, Colossians 3:11.The statement is so enormous, that we need to pause and allow it to sink in:
Christ is all and in all!
If I made this statement without a reference to Scripture, some would accuse me of pantheism. Hinduism and Buddhism are pantheistic religions, which claim that god is everything and everything is god.The gospel teaches that God permeates everything, every plant and every bush is upheld by Christ, and in Him everything consists. Christ is the source of everything, life itself, every human, and every flower and blade of grass. Christ is at the center of all things.
The Gospel goes further – Christ is above all and transcends all.
When I preach to Buddhist and Hindu friends I tell them that the one who upholds everything
is Christ but He is also above all things – Lord of all. Jesus– LORD and CHRIST!
Paul told the Athenians, that in Him (Christ) we live and move and have our being. How big is the Christ? Based on Paul’s statement, we can say with certainty that no church, no religion, no denomination has monopoly on Christ; He transcends all.
Christ - the light of the world
Science estimates the size of the known universe to be 94 billion light years from one end to the other. Of course, the universe has no end– that’s just the known universe. We think in terms of hundreds or maybe thousands of kilometers; billions of light-years is beyond
Our solar system is only one among billions of solar systems. On the map of the observable universe, it is so small that you barely notice it.
The vastness of the universe helps to realize how great Christ is. From the minutest sub-particle of an atom to the ever-expanding universe- everything speaks of the grandeur of Christ.
At creation’s morning God said, let there be light, Jesus said, I am the light of the world, and told his followers; you are the light of the world. What is this light that according to the creation story existed before the sun and the moon were put into place?
In 2019 astronomers, using eight telescopes, took the first ever picture of a black hole in the far reaches of the universe (see picture). The enormity of this black hole defies comprehension; 40 billion kilometers across with a mass 3 million times greater than that of the earth. Referencing the bright light surrounding the black hole, the lead scientist, Professor Falcke stated; we don’t understand how this light is generated.
Interesting! The best scientific minds cannot explain the source of that light, yet it’s there.
To me, it is a reminder that Christ is the light of the world and He lights the path of every person, John 1:9.
Christ at the end
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… for He has put all things under his feet… now when all things are made subject to Him then the Son Himself will be subject to Him to put all things under Him that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, selective).
What a beautiful, victorious end- time vision:
- All things are put under Christ.
- God will be all in all.
For those, who revel in speculations about Armageddon, 666, the false prophet and the Antichrist this may seem an unsatisfying description of the end time. But just for a moment; put aside speculative ideas and instead see Christ, the supreme, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Picture Christ – Alpha (the first) and Omega (the last), eternally victorious – Savior of the world, with everything under His feet.
Christ above evil powers
The ChristVision removes fear of the devil and demons. Since all creatures, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, were created by Christ [Col 1:15-17], there is no reason for fear. It is laughable for believers to be afraid of demons and the devil, since these are mere created beings. Should we who have Christ be afraid of beings that Christ created? [I’m not saying that Christ created the devil, He created Lucifer, the angel, who chose to become the devil]. Of course not!
This causes us to rethink “spiritual warfare”. A war is only ongoing as long as the outcome of the battle is unknown. In World War II the allied forces were prevailing towards the end of 1944 and early 1945, but victory was not sure because the Axis forces could have had a secret weapon that would’ve turned the tide.The war was not over until the enemy was totally defeated. That’s why I cringe when I hear people talk about spiritual warfare as if we (the believers) are fighting against the devil and the outcome is still uncertain. On the contrary, the outcome is certain – Jesus Christ has once and for all defeated evil powers. Our battle, the good fight of faith, is against the enemy’s lies; deceptions that make us think that our enemy is still strong and powerful. But, he’s a liar. Christ has fully triumphed!
This leaves no room for devil phobia. Do Christians need deliverance? Only if we have embraced mental deceptions, and the bondages and irrational behavior that follow. The means of deliverance is to believe the gospel: Christ has delivered us from the power of darkness. Past tense! Got it?
Christ in you
The ChristVision awakens us to our true identity. The knowledge of God is in every person, Ecclesiastes 3:11. Some call this inward awareness the soul, while others refer to it as consciousness. John wrote; It is not because you do not know the truth that I write to you, because you know it already, 1 John 2:21.There is an inward knowledge that God put in people.This makes it easy to share the message of Christ with Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. Though some have never heard the name Jesus Christ, yet within every heart the truth rings true.
John continues; We know this, that when everything is revealed, all we will know is that we are like God, and we shall finally see God as He really is”, 1 John 3:2. The purpose of our spiritual journey is to discover more about our source, our identity and our destiny in Christ.
There are three dimensions in our relationship with Christ:
1. Christian or not a Christian– we are all upheld by Christ.
2. To become a Christian is to change our mind (repent) and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and God.
3. Once we receive the gift of salvation, we have an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Here are limitless opportunities for every believer.
"Pile of manure" or upheld by Christ
This Christ-focused message has too often been replaced by a negative and destructive message. Martin Luther, the 16th-century reformer, who I frequently quote in a positive way, unfortunately portrayed humans as a “pile of manure”. John Calvin, another reformer, articulated the doctrine of “total depravity” and 18th century revivalist, Jonathan Edwards,
spoke of “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. Such statements do not make people Christ conscious, but rather sin conscious and self-conscious.This promotes the kind of thinking that reduces Christianity to a religious system, administered by clergy, and designed to mitigate people’s sins in order to hopefully bring them to heaven.
The Christ message is much greater: God put the image of himself in every person, and in Him we live and move and have our being. And now we– all people– have the opportunity to personally know this Christ. When this message echoed across the Roman world 2,000 years ago it was radical.Two- thirds of Roman society were slaves, but whether slave or free all are created in God’s image, all are upheld by Christ. To see yourself created in the image of God is vastly different from a pile of manure, totally depraved, squirming in the hands of an angry God. Unfortunately the latter view has permeated much of modern day evangelical Christianity. We have much to learn from Paul’s sermon to the pagan Athenians. He articulated that they, and all people, are invited to receive the One, in whom they already live and have their being.
Put on Christ
We were crucified, buried and risen with Jesus Christ, and now; our life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:3.
We respond by putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ”, Romans 13:14. Years ago, I was out for a walk in western Canada, when I noticed a discarded snakeskin. Snakes shed their skin, as new skin develops. The old skin itches, somehow it doesn’t fit. This depicts what it means to put on Christ. When the new life of Christ awakens in us, we recognize that the old skin of lies, gossip, fornication, grudges and condemnation doesn’t fit anymore. Instead we put on love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith and patience. Anything that smells of non-love or condemnation has to go.
To put on Christ is to put on healing, wisdom, love and joy. You in Christ and Christ in you! Healing, blessing and joy are not from an external source. No, it is God’s life that flows within you.You are one with Christ, and Christ is one with you!
Christ is the source of everything, life itself, every human, and every flower and blade of grass.