My grasp of basic biblical theology is sound, and I understand the concept of The Trinity. Well, I got a B- in that class in Seminary. So maybe I don’t completely understand the Trinity, and if you do, please send me your notes. I say that to say, this is not about theology, it’s about a Pastor’s thoughts on a cultural saying. The phrase is: “It’s a God thing.” I say it often. There is nothing wrong with it, but it falls short when compared to the name of Jesus.
Someone tells a cool story and says: “It’s a God thing” — well, yes it is, but that leaves so much up to interpretation, if you care to think about it at all. That’s really all I’m doing — thinking about it. So please think with me in this article. I’m not on a soap box, and will likely still say, on occasion, “It’s a God thing,” but the Holy Spirit has my attention so please accept this not as a sermon, but as some journal notes from a Pastor along the way.
The idea is not to decrease the use of the name God, but to increase the use of Jesus’ name.
1. When we say God, the definitions and ideology are up for grabs.
From Kabbalah, to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, to the Church of Scientology, and even Oprah there are broad influences on aspects of American Religious faith. America was at one time was predominately Christian and the word “God” was used to indicate the God of the Bible, but this is no longer true. However, even though we are less Christian, we are still a spiritual people. This reality demands, all the more, clarity in our faith.
At 12Stone Church we find that even with the most simple, straightforward and crystal clear presentation of the gospel message, it is often not heard with clarity. The number of interpretations people can have of an invitation to trust Jesus as Savior is staggering. We can say that this is simply an issue of their level of understanding, but it’s deeper than that, it’s cultural. The issue becomes more apparent when we follow up with someone who indicated they received Christ as Savior and they respond by saying: “Oh, no, I’m a Catholic.” Or, “I already believe in God and my parents are members in another denomination.” Or, “My whole family are Christians, and a little New Age too.” And this is in the South where everyone is a Baptist or wants to be!
2. When we say Jesus, we make a distinct declaration.
- You immediately identify who you are in one word – one name — Jesus. God is a unifying word, but when we say Jesus we exclude people who would otherwise identify only with the word God. The words “IN GOD WE TRUST” are on our currency. If Jay Leno, TV host of the Tonight Show, did a “Jay Walking” piece that interviewed people in the streets of Burbank, CA, asking them what “IN GOD WE TRUST” means, we would hear wildly different answers. The evidence of that reality walks into our churches every week.
The important thing is what you and I as spiritual leaders do about this reality. Without getting weird about it or trying to recreate the “Jesus Movement” of the 70’s, I think there is room, maybe lots of room to be bold with the name of Jesus.
It’s easier to say God than Jesus. Try an experiment. For three weeks, use only the word Jesus (not God.) People will respond differently and you might feel different as well. If you really want to be bold try saying: “It’s a Jesus thing.” It may feel awkward to you but try it and see what happens.
- You practice living the truth of Scripture.
There is no escaping the truth of the Word. There are dozens of Scriptures we could look at, but since this isn’t a sermon, let me give only one passage here.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11.
The church in which I serve is called a “mega-church.” That just means it’s big and complicated. Candidly, it’s easy to get caught in the machine of making a “mega” church function. So we fight hard to keep mission over machine. One of the ways we do that is to make sure we don’t lift up the name of 12Stone, but only the name of Jesus. It may sound strange, but that takes more effort than you might think. That doesn’t mean small and medium size churches don’t face this issue, they do. But it is intensified the larger the church gets. Personally, I think the issue is spiritual in nature and that leads me to the next point.
- You invoke a certain power in the name of Jesus.
The use of Jesus’ name brings power, authority and results. You and I know this is true from Scripture. To list just a few: Matthew 10:1-8, John 14:13; 16:23; Acts 3:16; 4:30; 8:12, 8:16.
There is power in Jesus name for healing, teaching, leadership, discernment, spiritual authority, prayer, and faith. When you use the name of Jesus you are invoking the name above all names and it’s connected to powerful realities in the Spirit realm. These next two passages are strong statements and give a richness and fullness to the power of Jesus name and it’s source.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
Ultimately this power is rooted in love. Which is a great insight for how we as Spiritual leaders are to carry and speak the name of Jesus. So, what do you think? What will you say?
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