Monday, 21 July 2014

Consumer Christ

Let's be clear, Jesus is not some self-help guru here to make our lives a living luxury. His purpose is not to straighten you out, smarten you up and propel you into heights of finally fulfilled potential, status and recognition. He has not set you goals and targets, a weight loss plan and a seven week programme to transform yourself into someone who can stand in front of the mirror and say, "I am beautiful. I am successful." Jesus did not incarnate himself into the grit and grime of this broken and beautiful cosmos simply to make you the centre of it and help you become a somebody. A life lived with the effervescent God is not to make all your troubles disappear, relieve you of all concerns, keep you safe and sound or to choose you not to die in a plane crash. As Bonhoeffer said, we  have confused peace and security, with security and success now the idols of our age.

God loves you, yes. Indeed I want to say it again, God loves you. But that love is not expressed in some kind of self-help, fix yourself lifestyle. It is expressed through the beyond comprehension of the giving of His Son for the sin, death and corruption of the world and all of creation.

This Self-giving beckons each of us into His Life having broken the power and slavery of death. He becomes what we are in order that we might become like him.  Our telos is life with God, it is relationship with God that leads us into life, dare I say, abundant life.

Abundant life however is not a spiritualised version of 'successful' living, rather it is a life that walks in faithfulness with the Trinitarian Life, a life lived that gives to others, a life of self-sacrifice, a life that does not grasp or exploit power but seeks to serve the life of others. It is a life that expresses the lavish love of God through lavishly loving others, raising the lowly, speaking out against injustice and seeking laughter to break down the walls of despair.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus need to be careful that we are not trying to market Him and 'sell' Him as though He were simply the greatest answer to your lifestyle needs, sitting amongst the plethora of goods designed to transform your life. A Jesus like this is simply an idol filled with empty promises. This Jesus becomes another product for consumers to choose from in order to satisfy our desires. If, in our Churches, we are describing a Jesus who will help realise your potential, bring you happiness and eliminate most of your problems, then we can be sure that this is not the Jesus of Christian orthodoxy who incarnated Himself among us and continues to be present by His Spirit.

We preach Christ crucified not consumer Christ. We are a people of Suffering Love beckoning humanity into relationship with God. He became what we are so that we might become what he is. Not that we become God (ho Theos) but so that we might share in the divine nature (theos).

This is our telos.