So I began to read the book, ” Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel ” by Luke Timothy Johnson today. In the opening of the book, Johnson proposes that Christianity in its essence dares to believe that Jesus is alive. Not alive in the sense that his teachings live on, not alive in the sense that modern Christians carry his like-ness but actually alive. Yet, not alive as He was before, but something other.
It’s a beautiful reminder to me. While the claim of the resurrection is difficult to believe, it appears as though the writers of the first texts after Jesus time on earth all fervently believed that Jesus had indeed come back to life. Yet, not like a corpse who was dead and has returned to life (like others in the Bible text) but one who conquered death and became Spirit/Live. One who continues to inform who we are, and guide where we go.
If we follow someone who has died, we simply read the Word of that person as if it is all past-tense. Some new information comes along and we think, “oh, that’s interesting. that’s what he/she was thinking at that time” and other post-thoughts. If we interact with a live person, that person changes, that person can move, that person isn’t thought of as past, but as present and future. Is this how we interact with Christ still? Do we live as though Jesus continues to live?
I admit that I fall into the trap of post-life Christ Christendom. I tend to look at Scripture as an inspired book that is more historical rather than what I truly profess – that it is part of God’s revelation that we too play an ongoing role. I admit that I will look at the historical Jesus more than I do the present Jesus. I have focused more on his life as a finished work than a work in progress…making my faith-life a finished work rather than a work in progress.
I have some very intelligent friends who disagree with my faith in a living Jesus, and respect and love them dearly…but, the living Christ is a deeply personal faith to me and I need to re-center my life on Him. Not that I’ve abandoned Jesus in my current life, but feel like I should make an effort to keep my eyes focused not just on what Jesus did, but on what he is doing, and going to do.