CS Lewis

You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus by JD Greear

You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus by JD Greear

If you’re a child of the 80s like myself, the phrase “your own personal Jesus” is heard channeled through the distinctive voice of Martin Gore of Depeche Mode whose massive 1989 hit democratizes the first century Jewish Messiah. Gore tells us to “reach out and touch faith” through whatever experience we can create that makes us feel as though someone hears our prayers and cares.

Martin Gore’s vision of a personalized Jesus is truer today, thirty years after his song hit the charts, than it has ever been. JD Greear wants to lovingly but firmly let us know that You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus in his thin volume by the same name. “Sometimes I hear people talk about ‘my God’ or ‘my Jesus’ as if he were their possession,” Greear reflects. But strangely absent of our personalized visions of Jesus are Jesus’ own claims of who he is. Unhappily for those who like to shape Jesus in their likeness, Jesus tells us that he is, in fact our Lord.

It makes sense that we think we can remake Jesus in our own image. Why shouldn’t we? Our social media feeds cater to our desires, my Amazon webpage is distinctive to me, your Netflix suggestions reflect your tastes. Why shouldn’t we be able to craft a Jesus who suits what we would like in a Savior? Greear reflects, “Those of us who have grown up in a consumeristic Western culture envision an Americanized Jesus who is one part genie, one part fan club, one part financial advisor, one part American patriot, and several parts therapist. Our ‘God’ makes us more narcissistic and materialistic, not less.” In Voltaire’s words, “God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.”

What I Read In 2018; What I’m Hoping to Read in 2019

What I Read In 2018; What I’m Hoping to Read in 2019

I read 54 books in 2018: about one a week. I love learning and books are one of my favorite forms of learning. I tend to read five types of books: Christian Living, Theology, Leadership, General Non-Fiction, and Fiction. If you’re interested in tracking my reading, getting fuller reviews, and sharing with me your favorites, I use Goodreads and would be happy to have you friend me there. Here were some highlights for me in 2018:

Anticipating Heaven

Anticipating Heaven

“How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” This absurd question is attributed to William Chillingworth[i], who was mocking the penchant of some medieval theologians for expending their energy debating meaningless topics.

It has been famously said “Don’t be so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.”

We’ve expended a number of weeks discussing heaven. Do these conversations and dreaming about heaven diminish our earthly usefulness?

Is talking about heaven the equivalent of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? What does it have to do with your life? With my life?

Dreaming about heaven is no worthless theological debate over angels on the head of a pin! Our anticipation of heaven has the power to radically re-shape our lives to be more like Christ, looking toward the joy set before us.[ii]

What is Heaven? It's Dynamic!

What is Heaven? It's Dynamic!

Can we learn in heaven? According to one survey, only 18% of Americans believe that people will "grow intellectually in heaven.”[i] It makes sense. We should know everything in heaven, right? In the presence of God, won't all knowledge be ours?

And yet, we will be learners in heaven. Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.” Do you catch the presumption of active learning in heaven in that verse? God is going to show us the incomparable riches of his grace… in the coming ages!

What are the incomparable riches of his grace he will show us? The list is endless. We will certainly understand the wonder of God’s grace on the cross more perfectly, but we will also be shown more profoundly God’s grace in creation, in art, in science, in beauty!

America’s greatest theologian Jonathan Edwards rejoiced in the progressive increase of our knowledge in heaven, “The number of ideas of the saints shall increase to eternity.”[ii]

In God’s grace-filled purpose, we are built to be learners.

What is Heaven? It's Physical

What is Heaven? It's Physical

When I trusted Christ as a young boy, I remember thinking that the one downside of being a Christian was the boring afterlife that now awaited me. “I hope Jesus doesn’t return before I go to high school… before I get married… before I have kids,” I thought. There is a classic Gary Larson cartoon that captures my worst fears about heaven: “Wish I’d brought a magazine," the bored saint reflects.

I recently asked a group of sixth grade boys what they thought heaven would be like, and their picture of heaven mirrored what mine was at their age: a worship service that never ended, standing around the throne of God and singing song after song after song after song.

I mean, I liked church more than the average kid. I even sat through “big church” with my parents and liked the singing and preaching. But doing that forever? In the words of the old hip hop group OutKast, “Foreva eva?”[i]

Good news, friends. This won’t be the sum of heaven.