This is probably too obvious to state, but it turns out your view of Jesus shapes how you worship him. I’ve had the benefit of growing up around people who emphasized relationship with Jesus above everything else, and yet I still find subtle ways in which I don’t treat my relationship with Jesus as if it were real. It still sometimes feels like I’m relating to an idea Â or a historical figure, not a person I can really know right now.
My wife and I are currently helping to lead a small group, where we’re going through John Eldredge’s “Beautiful Outlaw” (affiliate link). This is not my first time through the book, but I have to admit it has taken several times through to really sink in. It’s like wading into water – it starts out light, almost too shallow, and suddenly you’re in up to your neck. I think the genius of the book is in asking people to step back and consider what they’re reading when they read about Jesus. It took a few times through to appreciate that Christians almost never do this – at least most of them I’ve met. For some reason, people tend toÂ dissect and look for the deeper meaning without considering that they’re reading a real story about a real person. Honestly, you’d be even better off if you would at least read it like you would read a novel and simply take it at face value.
On to the point though. How we think about Jesus matters, and I think it really matters that you remember his humanity. Consider this excerpt from Chapter 5, entitled “The Most Human Face Of All”:
“One of my favorite Christmas meditations comes from this passage by Chesterton (he is speaking of Bethlehem, and what it held in its foothills that fateful night):
The strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.
Savor that passage for a moment. The manger Mary used as a bassinette held something more human than humanity?
Do you think of Jesus as the most human human-being who ever lived? Itâ€™s true. The ravages of sin, neglect, abuse, and a thousand addictions have left us all a shadow of what we were meant to be. Jesus is humanity in its truest form. His favorite title for himself was the Son of Man. Not of Â Godâ€” of man.”
And yet, how often do we think like this in worship time? This seems to beÂ under-emphasized in most of the worship songs I know. This is not toÂ under-emphasizeÂ Jesus’ glory, and the fact that he was God and man at the same time, but I think our current culture has swung a little too far in downplaying his humanity, and that fact has deep consequences in our worship. If you don’t believe God actually loved us enough to come down and truly be human – to grow in a womb, be born, go through childhood, and grow into manhood, I’m not sure what we’re doing here. It’s important enough to keep pressing into and contemplating and acting on.
The book goes on to emphasize Jesus’ personality – his playfulness / sense of humor, his fierce intention, hisÂ extravagantÂ generosity, disruptive honesty, his scandalous freedom, his cunning, humility, and the one I think I love the most – his trueness. Having covered these topics, Eldredge devotes the rest of the book to what it means to really love Jesus the way he wants to be loved, which as a worship leader, I think is my most important job.
He includes this prayer as a help:
“I renounce every limit I have ever placed on Jesus.
I renounce every limit I have placed on him in my life.
I break all limitations, renounce them, revoke them.
Jesus, forgive me for restraining you in my life.
I give you full permission to be yourself with me. I ask you for youâ€” for the real you.”
He recommends praying that prayer more than once, and I couldn’t agree more. I should be praying it every day, and probably a lot more.
How about you? How do you think of Jesus? Is he near or far? Knowable or unknowable? How do you think he actually wants to be worshiped?