The early apostles were solidly committed to Jesus and gave their lives for Him

They were in awe of Him understanding that He is God

They saw His splendour

They had experienced His majesty

They had encountered His glory – “the glory of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14)

They gave up everything to follow Him and eventually gave their lives for Him – dying for their faith in Him

In everything they did they exalted Him – put Him first – lifted Him up for all to see

Philippians 1:20 “Christ will, even now, as always, be exalted.”

As I travel from nation to nation I sense that this is a missing element in the Christian faith and thus in the Christian Church

So, in many ways we no longer “life Jesus up” or exalt Him in our lives

We no longer stand in awe of who Jesus is

We do not see his majesty – His awesomeness

We are not experiencing His presence as Isaiah did in the temple (Isaiah 6)

Or see ourselves in light of His greatness

We are not embracing Him, His love, His acceptance … 

Instead, we are somehow working for His approval

Performance religion

I believe that we, the Christian Church, are at a crossroads right now

We can turn to the left – legalism (rules and regulations)

We can turn to the right – License / licensciousness / “extreme grace” / anything goes

Or, we can turn back to Jesus and who He really is 

“seeking first the Kingdom and His righteousness (Jesus)…” (Matthew 6:33)

The world – the non-believers – are looking for this third alternative

The world is looking for…

“The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6)

So, it is time for the believers – the Church – to totally turn to Jesus for who He is

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Not who we think He is

Not the Jesus we have created to justify our lifestyle

Not the religious Jesus or even another Jesus

If I can be so bold, We need a fresh experience of the reality of an indwelling Lord

Colossians 1:27 “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Jesus – it is ALL about Him

His greatness, His beauty, His glory, His splendour 

The early disciples gave their life to Him and gave their life for Him because they knew Him for who He was and had seen His glory…

So powerful to see – to know – to experience – to live with

Yet unknown to many believers today

BUT, when known and experienced and encountered, we have confidence and courage to face the unknown and uncertain future (assurance)

Canadian Supreme Court – new ruling that weakens the right to freedom of religious            beliefs … Trinity Western (Christian) University

Sadly, we have, in many ways, downgraded the Bible into a book of information and life principles

When really it is our road map pointing us to the real Jesus and a deep life-changing relationship with Him

The person of Jesus in all of His richness, depth and glory

But we don’t see Him because we have made the Gospel / Church / Christianity about so many other things

Things other than Jesus the Christ

Our salvation

Our health and healing

Our comfort and security

Our going to heaven

Our ministry

Our church

It is, in many ways, all about us!

Thus Jesus is no longer the center of our faith

Or, we fall into worshipping “another Jesus” as Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 11:4

So, many times we emphasize a spiritual truth

A value

A virtue

A gift

A ministry … and still miss the real Jesus

Jesus is the center of our faith

He pulls everything together

He gives everything meaning and life

He is foundational to every action and thought

Without Jesus everything loses its value

Including the Church and even your life

In the Church today we are suffering with JDD – Jesus Deficit Disorder

But, we can heal this disorder and return to a proper foundation – Jesus Christ

Jesus is the only foundation – cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)

We can seek first the Kingdom and the King

We can embrace Jesus in all His glory

We can know Christ – the Bible Jesus

Jesus – in Him resides truth, values, virtues, gifts … all in living colour

So, what is Christianity?

It is Christ – nothing more, nothing less

It is not just a way of life

It is not a theology, ideology, philosophy

It is not a new morality, social ethic, world view

It is Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)

When we were born again – it was more than a change in direction (repentance) 

It was a change in connection

Repentance in the Hebrew is “shubh”

Not viewing God from a distance but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human existence

He is Lord

He is Ruler of your life

He is the center of who you are

He is your life source

He is all that matters

He is the Way, the Truth, and your life

He is Lord and God

It is more than, much more than, simply getting a “get out of jail free” card…. And knowing you are going to Heaven

It is coming to know and embrace – be connected relationally with – Jesus / God

We talk a lot about it – but the life reality is far less than out talk would indicate

So, there is a major disease in the Church today

JDD – Jesus Deficit Disorder

You hear a lot in Church about:

You – victory – heaven – healing – deliverance – ministry

Justice – morality – values – morals – social norms

But you don’t hear a lot about Jesus… the real Jesus

The world – young people especially – like Jesus

They don’t like the Church

Increasingly, the Church likes the Church

It doesn’t like the real radical and revolutionary Jesus

Some Christians can easily think of the world without Christ

They live like He is not real or relevant (Christian atheists)

Some Christians have a problem of thinking of the world without Bach, Beatles, Bono

Christians and the Church are losing sight of the real Bible Jesus

And, this is causing us major problems in every nation

In our global – Google world we need Jesus as the filter through which we understand everything else

Jesus needs to be first, foremost, and forever …

Jesus is speaking to His disciples 

“Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13)

Each of us – every generation – needs to answer this question

Every believer

Every Church

Every generation

They need to personally find and experience the real Jesus

Not “another Jesus”

If we get this answer wrong – everything else is wrong

In every generation there is a need for:

A rediscovery of the “Living Word” 

Scripture and its authority

A rediscovery of the “Living Christ”

His Lordship and supremacy

A rediscovery of the “Living Spirit”

His gifts and power to manifest Christ in the context of the culture

Jesus said that when He is lifted up He will draw all people to Himself (John 12:32)

Because we don’t trust Jesus to do what He says He will do

Or … Because we don’t believe He is who He says He is

Or … Because we have not caught a glimpse of the real Jesus

We  draw up programs

We dream up new teachings and develop new theology

We design new methods to reach the world

We develop new strategies that we hope will bring people to Christ

But, Jesus was clear:

Our mission is to simply lift Him up in all / every aspect of life and in our life together

Lift Him up in full view of everyone in a way that our culture and our generation can understand and receive Him

If we do that – He does the rest

Each person / Every Church / every generation needs to answer “who do you say that I am?”

But, they can’t do that unless we lift up the real Jesus 

We ask so many other questions:

What are you doing to evangelize the neighbourhood / world?

To who are you accountable?

Who is your spiritual covering?

How is your Bible reading going?

How is your prayer life?

Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Do you speak in tongues?

Are you moving in the gifts of the Spirit?

What are your gifts?

Do you have a ministry in your local church?

Yet Jesus asked His disciples only one question

“Who do you say that I am?”

When we know Him – really know Him – we lift Him up and glorify Him in our life

When we know Him – truly know the real Jesus – we love Him with our whole heart…

And then they will know we are His disciples by our love as we focus on Him and speak of Him, lifting Him up

For our hearts to be captured by His love we need to connect (repentance) relationally with the real Jesus

Your heart will be captured by even a glimpse of the greatest person the world has ever known – Jesus

Out of the depth of your relationship with Jesus flows everything else

And your life shows others the real depth of that relationship

Not talking about the “cheap, happy-clappy Jesus talk” that creeps into religious conversations today

But a simple – plain – life-centred – real – realistic – practical reality solidly based in your heart relationship with Jesus 

Karl Barth – greatest theologian of the 20th Century was asked to summarize his 12 volumes on church theology (dogmatic theology)

His answer: “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.”

No “happy-clappy Jesus talk” … just down-to-earth truth and reality

We need to go back to our first love

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Not seen as an abstract principle or theology – or something we glibly speak of off-the-cuff

But seen in a real, actual person named Jesus because He initiated this love relationship

He is God /// He is love

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”

So, how do we live our lives as believers / followers of the Christ in such a way that others will see this “first love?”

Well, sandwiched between verses 16 and 19 is verse 17b

“… as He is, so also are we in this world”

You and I are meant to be to be living life as He did and would if He were here today in the flesh

And He is – for He lives in us and wants to live life, His life, through us

“In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)

Then we will be “salt and light” in our world

Then we will be the “city on the hill” for all to see (Matthew 5:14-16)