Why Jesus?

Ever wondered why children from virtually every nation and language go through the “why”-phase at some point? Some parents try to answer each question accurately, others later give up and turn a deaf ear. The children eventually also give up asking questions, or find the answers in other places, and from other sources.

In the beginning, children’s questions are irrational and involuntary because they do not yet have a filter. For example: Why do spiders eat their babies? Do Ninjas also kill dogs? Then the questions become more difficult: Where do babies come from? Why do people die? What happens to people when they die? Who is God? What does He look like? Where does God come from? Who created God?

This what-or-why questioning later becomes central to human existence: Why am I here? What should I do? Who am I? What is the best way to live life? However, faith questions become radically more difficult when life goes wrong: Why did Dad and Mom divorce? Why did my brother / uncle rape me? Why do people treat me so badly? Why does everything keep going wrong in my life? Why does nothing want to work out? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Speaking On God’s Behalf

The initial teachers who try to answer these essential questions are mostly adherents of a particular religion or philosophy. This is how religions have come into existence over the centuries: the shaman or witch doctor knows best what the gods desire. In the church, the priest, pastor, apostle or prophet mostly becomes the “specialist” who speaks on behalf of God. They supposedly all know best what God, or the gods, desire so that we may have happiness and peace on earth.

However, with the arrival of the internet and scientific studies, these enchanting specialists are becoming more and more obsolete because people can now work out life’s questions for themselves. Today, an extensive list of experts, philosophers, speakers, and academics in every conceivable field of study explains why poverty, hunger, crime, disease, and disasters are still happening worldwide. Solutions are numerous, sometimes contradictory, but our search for truth remains insatiable even in a perfectly human-ordered world.

Why do the most developed countries in the world, with the lowest crime rates, show the highest rates of antidepressant use? These are: Iceland; Canada; Australia; England; Portugal; Sweden; Belgium; Spain and Denmark. It is further interesting that some of these countries also fall among the countries with the highest number of atheists: Sweden; Belgium; Australia; Denmark.

The general search of mankind is for a better life: peace; inner happiness; meaning; harmony; freedom; supernatural power; wisdom; deeper insight; euphoric lasting happiness; eternal life; an ego-free existence without worries. Each religion, diet and pharmaceutical product sell their own recipe of how to achieve this “heavenly Nirvana”.

The crux of the problem is that we try to achieve this peace and happiness in our own way while God has a plan for us to experience sustainable, true happiness and peace.

John Eldredge explains this process beautifully: “Desire the journey we must take to find the life that God offers.”

God is not against the fact that we have desires:

“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose.” (Ps 20:4);

“Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps 103:5); “You open your hand and give your favor in abundance to all who live.” (Ps 145:16).

Desires Becoming Idolatry

The trouble comes because our desires are not first satisfied in Him. Desires then become harmful to us and others. They are mostly selfish and self-glorifying. A general example of desire misdirected is Hitler and the Nazi Party who carried out their desire for self-determination at the expense of others. The same thing happens in marriage when a spouse builds his or her extramarital romantic love desire on the rubble of their family and friends’ broken hearts.

Life is at times a dramatic, dangerous obstacle course. A person who does not know God is forced to find ways to quench pain. Thousands of forms of self-medication and the search for better painkillers or drugs become the anchor point of man’s addictions. All humanity is thus tempted to justify addiction since we all live in a broken world. The “medication” we eventually choose becomes our idol.

A certain man told of a dream to illustrate what happens to a person who does not seek the Lord for deliverance from idolatry. In the dream, the man was placed at the eternal point of no return where people crossed over to eternal life or death (Matt. 7:14). Jesus was standing at the critical point of crossroads with arms outstretched. Those who reached their destination through the “narrow road” towards spiritual freedom ran into His arms and found their home with Him. Those who were on the “broad road” were constricted to extend their arms to Jesus for their bodies were wrapped in a form of their idols. One person who idolized money and placed his wealth higher than God was tightly cocooned in money bills. Another person who tended his garden more than tending his heart towards God was encased in a grass-like constriction. These idolaters found their place in the eternal fire of hell.

Idolatry, Witchraft and Religion

The Greek Word for idolater is from 5331 (Strong’s): “φαρμακεία pharmakeía; gen. pharmakeías, fem. noun from phármakon (n.f.), a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and as a poisonous one. Pharmakeía means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12). Syn.: mageía (G3095), magic.”

We can therefore conclude that false religion, addictions, and idolatry are all from the same family. False religion is the practice of magical rituals or magic attempting to control the world for self-benefit. It is in fact the “opium of the masses” (Karl Marx). However, one can also put it another way: every time we try to escape the reality of this world through some “opium or painkiller”, we create an idol.

Some would like to argue that there are good and bad rituals or painkillers. Surely, it is like this: you cannot chemically fix an unhealthy lifestyle. There are also healthy and unhealthy habits: some try to calm the pain by cutting themselves, others meditate, diet or physically exercise. The problem is that even the good rituals, habits and customs are of short duration and, therefore, must be habitually lived. Then, increasingly higher “doses” or more intense rituals are needed to achieve the same effect. Exercise is, of course, wholesome. But what do you do if you are unable to exercise for a month?

But here comes a radical statement: false religion and idolatry are the same thing. Idolatry is the religion that man creates for himself, with an image of a god he loves, to do for him what he wants. In the following verses, idolatry is very widely described as the collection of the people’s selfish desires.

“For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:5 NKJV).

“Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5).

Definition of Religion: The belief in the worship of a supernatural, controlling power, a personal God or gods. The English word “religion” comes from the French and Latin words: “obligation, bond, reverence, to bind”. The Greeks did not have a word for religion: they simply spoke directly of a person’s worship. Therefore, who do you worship? Or according to the OT: Who do you “serve”?

Proponents of Religion’s Profit

Gurus, priests, spiritists and preachers preach their own version of how you can appease God. Everyone speaks on behalf of God to explain what God wants. Each one tries to be more spiritual and authoritarian than the next one to gather the most followers and thereby mostly intend to generate income for themselves. Therefore, Jesus forcibly expelled the money changers who tried to profit from the people’s effort and burden of offering sacrifices (Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-22). There are more and more true evangelists who do not take up offerings during public gatherings but focus on making people disciples and followers of Jesus.

Religion’s goal is to gain leverage on God so that He can make my life better. Like the woman who prays that the Lord changes her husband so that she can have a better life. How many of our prayers are selfish? (James 4:2-3).

In essence, people are looking for life. Religion is a way in which man tries to fit the complexity of life into a framework that makes sense. And in coming to self-imposed conclusions, people feel in control. Therefore, religion makes one feel safe. We try to fit the chaos and complexity of our existence into this specific framework. Job’s friends tried to convince him similarly of their god-framework ~ that the righteous live well, and disasters follow sinners. Yet, Job refused to equate his dilemma as the consequence of sin and maintained his innocence before God (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3).

Religion is a man-made mindset and seeks to control mankind through feelings of guilt, stigmas and magical rituals. This is all to prevent or escape the effects of a broken world filled with disasters, accidents, illness and pain. That is why false religion remains people-oriented: everything is aimed at gaining more followers. Therefore, a people-pleasing policy is maintained to attract even more people.

Different Paths To The Same God?

Some argue that the diversity and competition between religions are merely different paths to God. They insist that everyone is right, there is no one exclusive way and method. God is, therefore, a distant, uninterested being whose attention we must attain.

“Any god who forces you to earn his love is not worthy of your worship. Jesus did not tell us what we need to do to get to God, he was proclaiming what God is doing to get to us.” – Ervin McManus.

Who is God? All religions ultimately have their own version of what God looks like, who he or she is, what he or she likes and how to keep him or her happy. Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Hu, Baha, Mare d ‘Rabuta, Krishna? Every religion sells their version of who God is.

The human dilemma: a force of gravity (fallen human nature) in man pulls one down to the animal instincts of existence. Yet man is essentially different from animals: we are playful and creative, leading to the arts; we invent, and we deduce through science; we create order through legislation and rules; we not only consume our food, but we also fuse flavour, set tables and create atmosphere when we dine. We also do not have sexual intercourse in public, but we like to gossip. Since creation, man has been trying to determine for himself what is good and bad.

These aspects of being human indicate that we are spiritual beings, indicating that we want to be connected to the world around us. The people around us determine our whole being. We all think we are generous until we must give to a cause. We all think we are loving until someone seeks our love. We think we can do anything until we must perform a certain task. We all think there is nothing wrong with us until someone is deeply offended by something we said or did. So, it is only in a relationship with someone that I notice for myself who I really am. We can only realize how broken we are when we notice how broken our relationships around us are.

Is truth absolute? We all search for the truth, and when we find it in someone’s book, or someone’s preaching, and that person disappoints us because they do not really live the truth, we abandon the truth they are preaching! This means that every preacher or author tries to grasp the truth better than the next person, because we are each disappointed somewhere by some leadership. This leads to the argument that there is no absolute truth. Everyone’s truth is relatively true to everyone’s view and understanding.

In a time like this, we must refer to the word “religion” as a false religion. Such religion seems obsolete as it gives false hope. Some people try one form of religion after another, and it fits like a shoe which is too small. You later get calluses and abrasions and can no longer walk or move properly. Such religion limits you and robs you of your freedom; it holds you and dulls all creative inspiration.

Religion is a form of lockdown! It’s like a camel being kept in a Canadian zoo – completely outside of its natural habitat.

Jesus did not preach such a religion! Jesus was condemned to death by the religious of the day! Jesus and religion are not synonymous. If you are tired of religion, try an intimate relationship with Jesus. There are no different paths to the same God.

“Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.””(John 16:5-7 NKJV).

Why Jesus?

Jesus is radically different! Jesus overthrew all this religious practice by not only speaking on behalf of God. He was God who became flesh. He was the manifestation of the Father. “He who is the reflection of his glory and the imprint of his being.” (Heb. 1:3); “After God had spoken many times and in many ways in ancient times to the fathers through the prophets, in these last days He has spoken to us through the Son.” (Heb. 1:1).

Jesus follows a completely different approach:

• Jesus does not preach a way to God – He preaches God’s way to us! (John 3:16).

• He not only preaches what we need to do to reach God, but what God has done to reach us (Matt. 5:24, 36).

• Jesus does not preach a set of rules and methods: He preaches a Person! (John 6:28-29). That is why Jesus disregarded the religious precepts over the Sabbath, because people keep the Sabbath and do not really have real peace or rest. He is Sabbath rest! When you discover the rest in Him, every day becomes a Sabbath.

• Jesus makes us focus on God, whereas religion makes us focus on self (John 3:13).

• He proclaims a truth that He Himself physically demonstrates to the letter (John 14:6).

• Jesus preaches a practical truth that teaches you how to live through crises and pain and not try to escape it. Blessed are the people who suffer, mourn, and are persecuted! (Matt. 5:3-12).

• He gives immediate access to the reality of heaven and glory (lasting peace and joy) that man seeks. Peace, reconciliation, healing and deliverance are instantly available (Matt. 4:17). Religion always wants to present the destination far in the future, but Jesus gives the fullness of his Glory right in the beginning. The least is greater than John the Baptist! (Matt. 11:11).

• Jesus cultivates the ability to live godly in us (1 Pet. 2:3- 11). It is remarkable how quickly Jesus empowered His disciples to perform miracles and cast out demons as well. So, He wants to empower every follower who follows Him!

• Religion ultimately seeks people’s money to maintain the religion. Jesus proclaims that God does not need our sacrifices. “Then be followers of God as beloved children; and walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet fragrance.” (Eph. 5:1-2). Jesus multiplies bread and fish, helps His disciples catch many fish and discovers coins in a fish’s mouth. God gives! Finally, we also give and sacrifice in response to what He first gave!

Empowering Faith Versus Religion

The proof and end of Jesus’ message is not a bunch of followers blindly following His methods like robots. The ‘Jesus life’ is a testament to Jesus’ empowerment of poor, ordinary, simple, broken, sinful people to start living godly lives. As the Son of God, Jesus could have come to demonstrate His rule with power and majesty, and He did.

But it was very different from what we understand about power and might. He used His power to heal people, free them from evil, and empower His followers to do the same. Only Jesus can answer and fulfil the “why?” question. So many people seek fulfilment in money, wealth, physical health, love, power and prestige. Finally, they still feel empty and unfulfilled when they have everything their heart desires. However, when I act like Jesus, I feel inwardly: Yes, that’s right! I feel alive and fulfilled! These Jesus moments are liberating and the highest heavenly experience!

Jesus fits your soul perfectly. All you must do to receive Jesus is: BELIEVE! (Rom. 10:9-10; John 6:28-29).

Do You Know Jesus?!

There are several important “causes” for which people live. Some dedicate their lives to fighting for the rights of minority groups or violence against women and children. Or, the conservation of our natural resources, or the protection of some extinct animal. BUT the most primary “cause” we have to fight for is the cause of Christ.

To know Christ is LIFE!

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:8-9 NKJV).

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Eph. 1:17 NKJV).

The word “know” is 1922 (Strong’s): ἐπίγνωσις epígnōsis; gen. epignṓseōs, fem. noun from epiginṓskō (G1921), to recognize. It is more intense than gnṓsis (G1108), knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner. In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement. (See Col. 1:9, 10; 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Heb. 10:26; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3).

The beautiful song by Kari Jobe sums up this sentiment beautifully: (Song by Kari Jobe | Ben Hastings | Bryan Fowler)8

The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ to build His church To love His bride and make His name known far and wide For this ’cause I live, for this ’cause I’d die I surrender all for the cause of Christ All I once held dear I will leave behind For my joy is this Oh the cause of Christ, He is all my soul will prize Regardless of the joy or trial When agonizing questions rise, in Jesus all my hope abides.

https://music.apple.com/za/album/the-cause-of-christ/1440878905?i=144087906045

“Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13 NKJV).

Jesus Remains an Unshakable, Eternal, Solid Reality

We can study any subject under the sun as it comes and goes. Everything in this life is temporary (2 Cor. 4:18):

“”..because ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Pet. 1:24–25 NKJV).

“…scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35).

“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24).

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29).

Jesus is my religion. I dedicated my life to living in obedience to Him. He is the focus of my worship! In Him alone, I am satisfied, and I come to rest. He is my source of strength and power. He is my focus, because it is the knowledge of Christ that He has chosen to reveal in us which, like the true north on a compass, that helps us to maintain direction in the maze of life. Christ’s righteousness is my access and right to the Father. The more I understand and comprehend Jesus, the better I begin to understand myself.

The problem with Christianity, and why even Christianity is in danger of becoming just another dead religion, is that not everything we do is focused on Jesus! We easily fall back to the place where, like Moses, we put our trust in methods, even methods that God once commanded.

The centrality of focusing on Jesus, does not exclude the rest of the trinity.

The central focus on Christ, the ‘Jesus only’ emphasis of this book, aims to highlight the unique and unparalleled role of Jesus, distinguishing Him from all false idols, unnecessary additions, and misguided interpretations that dilute His true essence. However, this Christ-centered approach is not in opposition to the other two divine Persons of the Trinity.

Jesus’ mission is deeply intertwined with revealing the Father. He entered the world with the purpose of fulfilling the Father’s will (John 4:34; 5:30) and to communicate the Father’s teachings (John 7:16). His assertion, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and the declaration, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), underscore this profound connection. Furthermore, Jesus’ role involves paving the way for the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell within us more perfectly and intimately than Jesus could in His physical form (John 16:7).

In the divine mystery of the Trinity, there is no competition or exclusivity. The concept of Christocentrism is not at odds with theocentrism. In true understanding of the Trinity, these concepts are harmonious and unified, not separate or conflicting. The distinction between Christocentrism and theocentrism becomes a matter of contention only in heretical interpretations that fail to grasp the unified nature of the Trinity.

When Jesus is our focus, He will guide and empower us to know which method of worshiping and serving Him is relevant now. Faith is receiving a word from the Lord. Therefore, Jesus is the Source of our faith. Our time with Him, in His Word, anchors our existence! We look at Him through the Word, and the Holy Spirit helps us see Him.

As John saw on Patmos Jesus and wrote the book of Revelation, we need to see Jesus in every crisis we may face! To worship Jesus! To hear Jesus! To live Jesus! Jesus is not the guarantee of escape to miss all the dangers of life, but the Wisdom to grow and become stronger to complete the obstacle course!

[5] Edwards, Misty. What is the Point? (p. 1). Charisma House. Kindle Edition. 

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