This is part three of our series ‘What is an evangelical?’. You can read the series opener here.
It is all about Jesus. Evangelicals are passionate about, and want to be defined by, the good news of Jesus.
In my childhood, I attended a church for a number of years that was built on the grounds of a Buddhist Temple. Every Sunday we would gather and worship our mighty Lord and saviour, surrounded by those who would disagree with that claim. Every Sunday I was reminded of how thankful I was for Jesus, for his intervention on the cross for me and for what He revealed about God to us. That truth stills holds central to my life, and now more than ever I am thankful for Jesus and I’m living my life for Him because, it’s is all about Jesus.
As an evangelical, I believe that Jesus is central to everything. I believe that God’s eternal word became human in His Jesus. I believe He conclusively reveals God to humanity, makes it possible for us to come to God through his death and that my life as a disciple of Jesus is to follow His way.
In Colossians 1:15 we read that,
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God’
This shows that God revealed who he is, through his Son Jesus. In all relationships, we reveal our true character to the people that we meet and the more we get to know someone the more we reveal. Someone may not reveal every aspect of their character, but if they are trustworthy what they reveal will not contradict what they choose to conceal. This is the same with God in Jesus. God reveals to us Himself through Jesus. Therefore what we know of God through Jesus may not be everything there is to know about God, but what we can be sure of is that everything revealed in Jesus will not be contradicted by what we don’t know or have not yet discovered about God. Therefore, when we look to Jesus, when the Bible reveals who he is and how much he loves and cares for his people we can be rest assured that this is who God is too.
Jesus not only reveals God to us, but he makes it possible to come to God through his death on the cross.
‘Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God’ (Romans 5:1-2)
Jesus’s death on the cross, allows us to enter into a relationship of peace and grace with our heavenly Father. This enables us to live knowing that Jesus has reconciled us to God. I can live a life in close relationship with God, knowing that Jesus took away my sins that separate me from Him.
So how does everything being about Jesus affect what I believe? And what impact does this have on how I live my life?
Well everything, because it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is central to how we live our lives as disciples. Being a disciple means being a follower, believer, supporter, student, learner, devotee. It’s a word used to refer to someone who takes up the ways of someone else. Therefore, if we are disciples of Jesus, we not only believe and follow him but we are also called to learn from Him and to live like Him. Jesus says to his disciples that,
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
To live as disciples of Jesus we need to become overcome by His character traits, to allow ourselves to be transformed to become like Jesus as we learn to live like Him. This to me is what it means to be an evangelical – to follow Jesus, to centre our lives around Him and to practice His way in all that we do. We love Jesus and we want people to encounter Him.
It is all about Jesus.