At the EC last week (seems like years ago) I had an interesting discussion with Kay and Jay that continues to spark thought and need more discussion.

I've had this hunch for many years, unfair as it may sound at first blush, that how we name God tells us something about our faith. As a young Christian I often thought that someone who referred to God as "God" was not as intimately in tune with God as someone, say, who referred to God as "the Lord". While this sounds somewhat foolish to me now, it seemed that to me then that to choose between the two names was similar to referring to my wife as "woman" or as "sweetheart". Each of the names describes who she is, but one would be more intimate. I still think there is something to the distinction between the two names, but I do not place such a judgment on the nature of the "namer's" relationship to God any longer. One can be on a rather intimate basis with God and yet never use another name for God, especially in these days where gender language is so carefully scrutinized.

But then I began to notice something about the way in which others refer to Christ Jesus. And this is taking it a step further, I realize: those who speak of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus seem to me to be more like Jesus (admittedly, this is subjective) than those who only refer to him as Christ. Of course, what this observation does not tell me is whether or not one causes the other. Do those who refer to Jesus as Jesus come to know him better and become more intimate with him than those who refer to him as Christ? Or is it simply a matter of those who know God in Christ intimately often cannot help but use the name Jesus? I don't know.

I acknowledge that this sounds very subjective. I admit that there is no evidence to back this up but my own experience, biased as it is. I further admit that how closely a person resembles Jesus is also a matter of my own interpretation of the character of Jesus. I'm making a lot of assumptions here. But still...

Take my friend, Bob, for instance. Here is a man who knows Jesus. And that is how he most often refers to him. Bob is so full of Jesus, it seems to me and to others who know him, that it is sometimes tough to tell the two apart. And when he talks of Jesus, you cannot help but want to know Jesus as well as he does.

Is this a fantasy? Am I right? I have no idea. This is just an observation that I shared with friends at the EC and they admitted that they had noticed something similar in their experiences. We use the term "God" because we want to be inclusive and make God as accessible as possible in our language and attitudes. But, in referring to Jesus, we imply an intimacy and a closeness that, I think, people need and long for.

All I know is, I want to know Jesus as well as Bob knows Jesus. Wouldn't it be great if my life were so in rhythm with that of Jesus that it became tougher to tell the two apart?


At 7:01 AM, Blogger Luke said...

There are also those of us who have seen the televangelists talking about "my buddy Jesus" so often and so long, in ways that seem to cheapen the name, that we choose to remind ourselves of His divine nature, as well as His humanity, in addressing or referring to Him. It doesn't mean the relationship isn't deeply personal, in that case. It is an attempt to reaffirm the dual nature of Jesus, the Christ.

And there are those of us who are completely inconsistant in how we address the Lord our God, and how we refer to Christ Jesus - both in speech and in prayer.

But, of course, you're speaking of statistically relevant pools of Christians - not outliers!

At 1:25 PM, Blogger theultrarev said...

I have long confused you with Jesus but your wife is better looking than his.


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