006 | Rejection of God

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Savior of the world. But that raises an obvious question: Why do we need to be saved? What problem is so great that God himself had to come to earth to solve it? In a word, the problem is sin, and that's the theme of our next five passages."

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. The above quote is from Kuniholm's introduction to the next five passage readings from the Old Testament. In reflecting on first passage reading of this group Kuniholm writes

We tend to think sin is some obvious evil act, like murdering or stealing, and of course, that's part of it. But the full picture is more subtle and dangerous. Note that the serpent doesn't ask Eve to reject God. He simply questions God's authority (Genesis 3:1) and contradicts God's word (v. 4)"
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)
The word sin is a loaded word today and can mean different things to different people. From this account in the first book of the Bible we learn that the first sin was essentially ignoring God's authority. Eve, with the help of the serpent, reasoned that the boundaries God establish were not that important. She ultimately chose to ignore God's authority and follow her own. This was the first sin and it changed everything. Rejection of God's authority is the root of all sin.

Here is an interesting video using the man on the street (beach) interview format to find out what people think about sin. How do you define sin?

<a href="http://deforest-family.blogspot.com">Go to website to view this video.</a>

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005 | Personal & Communal

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. In reflecting on this passage Kuniholm writes "the church is not a physical building; it's a 'people belonging to God' (v. 9), with Jesus Christ as its cornerstone (v. 6)"
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by human beings but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood ... (1 Peter 2:4-5a)
Faith is intensely personal, but it is also intensely communal.

As someone who designs buildings for a living the picture Peter paints in this passage through an analogy of a stone house is quite rich and enlightening. A spiritual stone house is being built out of living stones with Jesus as the cornerstone. A few things come to mind when I think about a stone structure. First stonework is extremely labor intensive and therefore expensive in countries where labor costs are relatively high. Secondly, stone masonry is more of a 'creative' trade than many of the other building trades. The stone worker, also known as a mason, selects and cuts the stone to fit a specific spot in the wall. Each stone is selected and shaped to correspond to the stones around them. Each stone is unique but needed to complete the whole structure. Thirdly, the stone mason always starts with the corners of the stone house. The stones at the corner establishes the correct shape and angle and are used as a guide for the entire structure of the house. Once the corners are established the stone mason can fill in the rest of the walls with stones. Finally, from a structural point of view the cornerstone has the most weight or load on it.

A spiritual house is being built out of the lives of those who follow Christ. The church is being built, not of stone but of lives. As we come to Jesus and submit our lives we are changed and shaped to correspond and relate to the others around us. If we isolate ourselves we prevent this 'shaping' to take place. Community is essential to spiritual growth. Each of us are unique and are worked together into one community. As we are 'shaped' we are also being aligned with Jesus the cornerstone. Each unique stone fits tightly with the next coming together to form an integral structure where much of the weight and load is transfered to the cornerstone, Jesus.

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004 | Invisible made Visible

"If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus; he's the "exact representation" of God." I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. He wrote the above in his reflection on the following passage in Hebrews.
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus taught and did many amazing things. He taught about love. He said "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Love your enemies." Jesus warned us not to judge others since we all fall short of the standard and have sinned. He also taught us not to hold on to 'things' in this world, that when we die, our possessions will mean nothing. Jesus taught us to be faithful and generous in our giving to others who are in need. He taught that we all need to serve those we love and he showed us by washing the feet of his disciples at the last supper. Jesus despised religious hypocrisy. He paid attention to those ignored by society. He healed the sick and dying. He showed mercy to the weak. He railed against corruption and the powerful and He chose the underdog over the rich.

When we read about Jesus in the Bible, the incredible things he said and did, we are seeing God. If we find it hard to understand and relate to the invisible, all powerful, and infinite God all we need to do is look at Jesus. He is the invisible God made visible.

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003 | Everything

"The main point is that Jesus is God, and he is woven into the fabric of all creation." Whitney Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on this passage from Colossians 1 in the book I am currently journaling through titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16)
The purpose of God's creative act is present in everything created. When you consider and accept that everything has been created for Christ it changes how you think about everything. Everything was designed and created for the Son of God. The sun, the planets, the stars, the sky, the ocean, the mountains, water, air, rivers, lakes, rocks, all animals, fishes, birds, insects, plants and flowers ... and us. The purpose of all of creation, including us, is Jesus. He is the reason for the Creation. Everything was made for Him. We were made for him.

God has given us the freedom to live life for ourselves or anything we desire ... or for Him. He has given us complete freedom to align with his purpose for creating us or not. It is our choice, but we were designed and made for Jesus.

THE Purpose ....... of everything created. THE purpose of me.

<a href="http://deforest-family.blogspot.com">Go to website to view this video.</a>

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002 | Made Nothing

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. In reflecting on this passage Kuniholm wrote "The Creator of the universe was willing to serve his creatures."

Christ's attitude of mind:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7)
I think this is one of those passages that can just simply blow you over. It leaves me speechless. Jesus willingly left his eternal throne, his supreme place, and became a man. Think about it. He limited himself in many ways by becoming a human being. To really understand this I am trying to imagine what that must of been like for Jesus.

From an ant's perspective we humans are probably overwhelming. Not that the ant has the ability to understand this fact. But imagine they can. We humans are huge. There is a huge difference between what humans can do and what ants can do. To ants the human world must be unimaginable. Our power and strength must be beyond their understanding. From science we know ants are incredibly strong, powerful, and smart ... in their world ... for their size. I have heard that ants can lift things 20 times their own body weight. In looking up ants I also found that if the ant was our size they would move at about 35-40 mph compared to our average 3 mph. In the insect world ant brains are the largest. So in their world, for their size, ants are intelligent and powerful, but in our world they are just little bugs crawling around and dig tiny little holes.

Ok, now imagine that we had the power to become an ant. We could shrink down to their size, turning into an ant, with an ant brain and body, and live like an ant. I know it sounds crazy. But just think about it. Look at what we would have to give up. I realize there are many flaws in this analogy - the gap between God and us humans is much greater than between us and ants. For one thing we did not design and create ants. Who would ever give up their place as a human in this world to become an ant and live in their world?

Jesus gave up his place to become human. He gave up his view of eternity to live in a finite place and a finite time here on earth.

In describing Jesus as humble Philip Yancey writes, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew,

... the events of Christmas point inescapably to what seems like and oxymoron: a humble God. The God who came to earth came not in a raging whirlwind nor in a devouring fire. Unimaginably, the Maker of all things shrank down, down, down, so small as to become an ovum, a single fertilized egg barely visible to the naked eye, and egg that would divide and redivide until a fetus took shape, enlarging cell by cell inside a nervous teenager."

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001 | Light

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. He groups the first five passage readings under the title "Who is Jesus?" and writes the following:

In our first five readings, we'll consider the thoughts of three people who were close to Jesus: John and Peter, two of his key disciples, and Paul, who had a unique encounter with Jesus. Each of these readings describes Jesus in the loftiest terms. Later in our journey we'll get to the particulars of his life. But for now, we need to get the big picture, and that's where we'll start."

About the first passage Kuniholm writes "When Jesus appeared, it was like a candle in a dark room; people could finally see a way to God."

So here is the first of the 100 passages.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
The analogy used here by the apostle John to introduce Jesus to his readers caught my attention as I read this passage. Jesus "the light". Sometimes a verse can just jump out at you and cause you to think in depth about what it means. As I have been thinking about the differences between light and darkness a few things became evident to me. First darkness just seems to exist with no apparent source, and because of that it is hard to grasp or define without understanding light. It just simply exists preventing us from seeing things clearly. It exists as a result of the absence of something else - Light. The definition of darkness is "the absence of light". Secondly, light changes darkness, but darkness cannot change light. You can not change light with darkness. You can't decrease light by turning up darkness.

Light is ...? Now try to define light in a simple sentence. I could not. It takes science and even then it is difficult. I looked it up. The American Heritage Dictionary says light is "Electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength in the range from about 4,000 (violet) to about 7,700 (red) angstroms and may be perceived by the normal unaided human eye." The definition starts off abstract and scientific and for me not even that relevant to how I relate to light. But the last part of the definition I can relate to: "may be perceived by the normal unaided human eye." Light is what we see. Our eyes are all about light. Light is like air in that our bodies interact with light constantly.

John says the life of Jesus is "the light of all people." His life IS light. The way he lived, the way he acted, the things he said while living as a human in this world gives us clarity of who God is, how he thinks, and what he wants from us.

THIS light has a clear source. Jesus. THIS light transforms darkness. THIS light can be perceived by normal unaided humans. THIS light gives me a clearer view of the invisible and infinite God.

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Essential Jesus

I find myself questioning some of my perceptions of who Jesus is. I feel that perhaps I have been carrying around some misconceptions. I sense it is time to put some of my understandings of who he is under the microscope of the Word of God. For me it is time to reexamine what the Bible says about Jesus. To reexamine his life, his actions, his words.

Skip directly to index of EJesus articles.
Who exactly is Jesus? I mean who is he really? Yes I can rattle off a lot of things about Jesus. I have read verses here and there and hear things about him at church. I have listened and sung songs about Christ. I learned about him as a kid. Perhaps I know him best factually and historically through religion and Christian doctrine. But really who is Jesus? As a Christ follower and believer perhaps I shouldn't even be asking this question. Shouldn't I already know? In one sense I do. I know he is the Son of God. I know he died to free me from my sins. I know he came back to life and lives. I know one day I will see him face to face. I know in one sense this is enough, but in another sense I want to know more. I really want to know who he is. The more I know him, the better I know Jesus, the better I know God, my creator, and the better I will know myself. I realize I will not in this present age know him perfectly, but I know there is an ocean between what I know now and knowing him perfectly. So ...

I will be journaling through 100 verses laid out in a book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.. This book was written by the same guy, Whitney T. Kuniholm, who put together the E100 challenge. He is the president of Scripture Union/USA. Here is how he starts the introduction in the book.

No matter what you think about Jesus, there's no denying he is the most influential person in all of human history. And what's truly amazing is that his path to influence was so unlikely.

Jesus never became a political, military or government leader; he never wanted to. He never owned a multinational corporation or acquired any wealth to speak of; he didn't need it. He never wrote a book, never staged a concert tour, never appeared on television and never had a radio talk show or even his own blog. He was born in a barn, grew up as a laborer, remained single and childless his entire life, and was executed at the age of thirty-three.

Yet somehow Jesus became the reference point for life ever since - we mark our calendars by his death. He has inspired some of the world's greatest art, literature, music and architecture. His ethical teachings have been hailed as the world's greatest - even by those who aren't his followers. He's been the subject of countless books, articles, television programs and movies. ... Not only that, the book that gives us the most information about him - the Bible - has sold more copies than any volume ever printed. What's so special about Jesus?"

Why has he had such an impact on the world? What is so special about him? I want to know him better?

Who is Jesus really?

Here are the posts corresponding to each of the 100 passage readings I have completed to date.

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