I was having a conversation with my kids this week when one of them asked me to explain Judaism. Essentially I told them it represented the Old Testament part of their Bible without a belief in Jesus. To which they asked, “Don’t we believe in the Old Testament?” I replied that we did, but then I casually said the phrase: “Christians are Jews who kept going.”
By that I mean our faith is built upon a similar foundation to that of Judaism, but we found what the Old Testament was pointing to in the person of Jesus and that launched us into an entirely new journey of focusing on Him. But did that journey end with the New Testament? Or said differently, if the Old Testament is pointing to Jesus, what is Jesus in the New Testament pointing to?
Admittedly, there is much in Christianity in America that I consider falls far short of the person of Jesus. Just because we’ve generally accepted an idea or it’s been around for a while does not necessarily make it true.
One of the most underrated things Jesus ever said is found in John 16.
â€œThere is so much more I want to tell you, but you canâ€™t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, â€˜The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.â€™”John 16:12-15
Jesus says that His first disciples “couldn’t bear” more of the truth He had for them. For that, they (and us) would need to rely on how Jesus would speak to us through the Holy Spirit. Which begs the question: What new truth(s) have we received from God in this way?
This would mean there would be ideas we’d get from Jesus that wouldn’t have a corresponding verse to go with them. The author Derek Flood says it like this: “We cannot stop at the place the New Testament got to, but must recognize where it is headed.”
I think about this idea a lot as it takes us into unknown spaces. It takes us into conversations where we have no Old Testament or New Testament verse to quote outside of how we sense Jesus moving and communicating to us in real-time. We have to humbly acknowledge the power of our questions and our doubts and our ability to lean into our relationship with God and trust that God really does look like Jesus. As I say at almost all of our Communion Wine Co. events… good theology is theology that looks like Jesus.
Those of us who follow Jesus should be asking how this shapes our understanding of topics like sexuality, nationality, violence, gender, community, authority, relationships, and how to see the Imago Dei in people who don’t look like us or think like us. Basically, how do we think and act more like Jesus with the modern realities we face in our world today?
Do we trust Jesus enough when we have no specific verse to stand on? Sadly, I fear many Christians would not feel comfortable in this space and wouldn’t grant others the chance to either. It seems like much of Christianity is stuck in the first century and still can’t bear more of the truth Jesus has for us. But if we take Jesus seriously on the verses that we do have (with passages like this one in John 16), it seems like this is territory we need to spend more time getting comfortable in.It seems like much of Christianity is stuck in the first century and still can't bear more of the truth Jesus has for us. Click To Tweet