OceanSide church of Christ
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SOME WANT JESUS WITHOUT THE EXTRAS
Victor M. Eskew
It is easy to get individuals excited about Jesus Christ. He is the Creator. He is the Son of God. He took upon Him the form of flesh and lived among men on earth. He shed His blood on the cross of Calvary in order to forgive man’s sins. He was raised from the dead the third day never to die again. He pleads our cause before the Father in heaven. He will reward the faithful in the Last Day. Yes, individuals can get very excited about the Lord Jesus Christ.
This excitement ends, however, when individuals are made aware of all the extras that come with Him. They do not usually want the extras. They just want the “basic package.” This seems strange, doesn’t it? Most individuals are never satisfied with the basics. They want all of the add-ons they can get, but not when it comes to the Christ. What are some of the add-ons that men do not want?
First, they do not want Christ’s doctrine. The word “doctrine” carries an evil connotation in our society, but it simply means “teaching.” If a person wants Jesus, he must also accept Jesus’ teaching. Jesus cannot be separated from His teachings. John informs us of this extra in II John 9. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” It was Paul who instructed Timothy, saying: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (I Tim. 4:13). And again: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them…” (I Tim. 4:16). The teachings of Jesus spring from His divine nature. The teachings of Jesus are also the “words” of Jesus. It is impossible to separate Jesus from His precious teachings.
Second, there are many who want Jesus, but they do not want to have to practice obedience to His will. Some want to “love” the Christ, but they also want to do their own thing. Others believe that obedience to the commands of Jesus is too restrictive. Obedience, however, is essential to a relationship with the Lord. In His first epistle, John notes that obedience is essential to knowing Jesus. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his words, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:3-5). When man has a relationship with Jesus, it is more than just a friendship. Jesus is His Master. The disciple is the servant of Jesus. Thus, it behooves him to obey his Lord. If he does not, there is no true relationship.
Third, there those who want Jesus, but they do not want to worship Him as He desires and as He directs. There are multitudes of individuals in our world who despise assembling with the people of God on the Lord’s Day to pay homage to their Lord. Oh yes, they say they want Jesus in their lives, but they do not want to worship Him. They feel that they can worship the Lord any way they desire. They feel that a little Bible reading and a little time spent in prayer is enough for their spiritual lives. When Jesus discussed worship with the Samaritan woman, He told her: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). Jesus was pointing this woman to the time when the New Covenant, the New Testament of Jesus Christ, would be the authoritative law. When that time came the Father would seek true worshippers. These true worshippers would worship Him “in spirit” and “in truth.” “In spirit” refers to the right attitude. “In truth” refers to the proper manner laid out in the pages of the gospel. Man is not, and has never been, free to worship as He pleases. God has always prescribed the kind of worship He desires. This worship is essential because the Lord is worthy to be praised. If an individual does not want to worship as God directs him to worship, He cannot have a proper relationship with deity.
Fourth, many people do not want the church added onto the Lord. They will say: “Give us the Christ, but not the church.” This, however, is an impossibility. Jesus and the church share an intimate relationship with one another. It was Jesus who shed His blood to purchase the church. In Acts 20:28, Paul describes the church of God as having been purchased with the blood of Christ. Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18). Thus, the church is His body (I Cor. 12:27). Jesus is also the husband of the church (II Cor. 11:2). Therefore, the church is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2). The head of the church cannot be severed from the body. The divine husband cannot be divorced from His bride. Dear readers, if a person wants the Christ, he must accept the church as well.
Why wouldn’t men want the doctrine of Christ? Why wouldn’t an individual want to be obedient to Jesus? Why wouldn’t people want to worship the Lord? Why wouldn’t individuals want to be part of the church, the precious body of Christ? Why would they want Jesus without the extras? The answer has to do with the hearts of men. Man wants to boast of loving Jesus and having Him in their lives, but he wants to maintain control over his life. In essence, he wants to be his own master. Because of this, he cannot have Jesus as his Master at the same time. Either an individual yields completely to the Lord, or, he does not yield at all.
To have Christ in one’s life is of vital importance. It was He who taught: “…for without me ye can do nothing.” But to have Jesus in one’s life, he must accept all of the extras: His doctrine, obedience to His Word, worship in truth, and the church. If an individual refuses any one of these things, he cannot have the Christ. My friend, are you willing to say: “Give me Jesus?” Will you take Him with all things that come with Him? The answer to that question is serious and holds eternal consequences.