In questioning this claim, my wish is not to diminish the life of Jesus, but to honor it as fully as I can by asking whether his elevation to divinity is something he would have wanted. One telling clue to Jesus’s self-awareness can be found in the tenth chapter of the gospel of Mark when Jesus was approached by a man who called him “Good Teacher” (v. 17). Jesus’s response was immediate and startling, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (v. 18). I have heard some say Jesus was, in a clever way, offering the man the opportunity to affirm his divinity, but that is not what happened. Jesus simply directed the man to a style of living he believed would honor the priorities of God. Clearly, Jesus was a man who did not comfortably accept affirmations of divinity as his due.
Jesus did none of the things essential to forming a viable institution. Some may argue that Jesus wasn’t negligent, that he was simply confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to guide and grow the fledgling church. But Jesus’s cautionary, even hostile, language about religious institutions makes such a claim doubtful, if not incredible. A fair reading of the earliest gospels offers scant evidence that Jesus intended to start a new religion.
The above quotes are from some books by Philip Gulley who is a Quaker minister and author. He has provoked me to much thought about this topic. Was Jesus’ purpose in coming to us as a man like us to insist on our adoration of him or was it something else? I tend to believe along the lines of Philip Gulley and think that Jesus came with a much stronger message. Depending on how literally you take the Old Testament Bible text God had anxiously awaited at least five thousand and perhaps as much as a million or more years for us to understand His nature. When it seemed that even the prophets he sent throughout that time could not convince us how he wants us to live He chose to have Jesus come to us with that message. Toward the end of his time on this earth Jesus summarized his mission to us with the instructions to love God above all earthly things and to love our fellow man. He made a very direct point in telling us this was his message. I don’t see how anybody can dispute that fact? He did not include a bunch of rules on treating Jesus as a God like what the present day Jews prescribe to in the Old Testament.
As mentioned in the quote above Jesus did nothing to form a religious institution around him and I can’t find many of his words that I would interpret as him even remotely trying to do so. But today we have 39,000 different institutions, each with their own set of worship rules, saying that they are the ones who true to Jesus’ words. I don’t think Jesus intended us to just gather together each Sunday to chant certain mantra and go through a bunch of repetitious words. I think Jesus meant for us to take his words into our hearts every day and to do what he says. Unfortunately that message seems to have been lost in most Christian institutions today. Shame on us….
9 thoughts on “Did Jesus Ask Us to Worship Him??”
You couldn’t have said it any better.
So well said. Phillip Gulley “troubles” my dearly held church traditions. He moves me to question and study.
Jesus served his fellow man and saw right through the hypocrisy of the “church” at his time. He searches our hearts and knows us. Who do we think we’re fooling when we set up barriers around ourselves such as worship traditions that are vain? Not Jesus!
Jesus tells Peter after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, “Upon this rock (Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Son of God) I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” What was that? Jesus said who? I. Will build what? MY CHURCH.
Mr. Gulley is wrong in claiming that Jesus was uncomfortable with accepting affirmations of His divinity. Jesus knew very well He was God and many times the disciples confessed it and Jesus never told them differently. And don’t forget the Transfiguration, where Jesus’ glory is clearly seen.
The visible church does not seem to be synonymous with the spiritual church body. Christ built a “church” that is the invisible body of believers as evidenced in the fruits lived out in their lives.
Man can put together his clever ideas for worship and what is Christian. They have their reward now. These have merchandised and mistreated the people of God through the ages. No wonder many people don’t want any part of the institutional church that masquerades as Christian. Christ was not happy with the institutional church of his day. It has hardly improved with so many man-made rituals and customs instituted to burden God’s people.
I think that Peppy’s words are important. Phillip Gulley did not say that Jesus was not divine (he knows he is and clearly states that fact, but not in these particular quotes) but he said that Jesus did nothing to “form a viable institution”. The critical word here is institution. Many acknowledge, as Peppy states, that Jesus built an invisible church but did into intend to start an institution whose purpose was to worship him. So, in some ways Pastor and Phillip Gulley are both correct in their assertions.
It limits God to “box” him in an earthly institution with man-made rules.
God judges the heart. He knows his true believers and they know Him. We need no building, etc. We are that building and His spirit dwells in us. We’re all mini churches.
I have read quite a bit by Phillip Gulley and he is not against institutional religion as such. He is a Quaker minister after all (ha). What he is against is treating Jesus solely as an icon to be idolized and sacrificed to. That was the God of the Old Testament; Jesus brought us a different covenant that was a paradigm shift from the old way of interacting with God. He believes that among other things that Jesus through the new covenant intends us to follow his examples. The bible is literally filled with those examples. The “for the least of these” verses are the perhaps the most prominent ones but there are literally thousands of other places where Jesus give us examples of how to live. As mentioned a few posts ago the Beatitudes are another example at least for those of us who don’t try to spin them into something else but instead take them literally.
Why is there such animosity toward the “institutional” church? Please define what you mean by that term. Jesus said that where his name is invoked, where His Word is preached, and where His Sacraments are administered rightly, that is where He has promised to be. God deliberately locates himself in worship. He literally “tabernacles” with His people, “where two or three are gathered in my name.” “In my name” means to call upon Him by using His Holy name, to pray, praise and give thanks. It is in the worship service that God comes to feed us, speak to us, and pronounce us forgiven, which we so desperately need to hear every week. Worship done properly is pleasing to God and is a good work. St. Paul tells us that we should not shun gathering together.
The Beatitudes are first and foremost a statement of condition. They are the proclamation of pure Gospel. Jesus is saying, “the poor in spirit are blessed BECAUSE theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” One doesn’t have to attain to “poor in spirit,” in order to receive the title of blessed. Because of faith in Christ, believers are already in a state of blessedness. We have the Kingdom now, not when we finally attain “poor in spirit.”
If one has to reach that “poor in spirit” point before becoming blessed, how many do you think will get there? None. Remember, Jesus also said, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Are you going to take that one literally as well? How you doing with that, by the way? Be careful not to turn Gospel words into Law.
If you turn everything Jesus said into calls to action, you are dooming yourself to spiritual depression, because no matter how hard you try, you will always fail Jesus. Then, I pray you will finally “let grace flow over you,” because you will have come to the point of St. Paul in Rom. 7:14-29.
I am not saying that we are not to follow Jesus’ commands. I am saying that the Gospel is the sole motivator of our good works, not the Law. For if you try to live by the Law, you will die by the Law. “The righteous shall live by faith.”
And please be careful not to demean the good other believers are doing, even though you may not think they are doing much. It is not your place to decide what is enough. Remember the weaker brother or sister, who too is doing his or her best to show his faith by his works. If you criticize them, you may snuff out the dimly burning wick.
Pastor, it was never my intention to demean other believers and I don’t believe I did. I will let Peppy speak for him/herself. Arguing with other theological views is something that I no longer care to do so I will not be responding to further posts on this thread. I have only very little animosity towards the institutional church. You are putting those words in my mouth when they were not there.
My main concern is that when we “let grace flow over you” that is a passive thing. Yes, we should allow Jesus’ grace to flow over us, and I certainly do, but I personally think Jesus also had an active agenda for his believers. Surely you can see that from his many many words about living contained in the red letters.
If we lay back and do nothing as a response to that grace then in my opinion we are cheapening Jesus words. When you lay back and think that Jesus words about living were mere suggestions or even worse totally optional then you are cheapening the 33 years he spent on this earth. If his sole reason for coming was to die for our sins then he could have done that in a one day period.
I will close by saying again that I respect your walk with Christ and I hope you will do the same with me. Neither one of us are totally wrong or absolutely right.
I just wanted to add one more comment to further explain my feelings about the “institutional church”. It is not that I dislike it but more that I am totally disappointed that there are thousands of versions of Christianity today and it seems that very few of them are willing to admit that they might not fully understand the nature of God! Many seem to think that since they have it totally right then everyone else must be wrong and it is their job to prove their “advocates” wrong. In reality most denominations are fighting around the edges of Christ’s teaching but none are willing to admit that and to admit that versions other than theirs just might have some validity. That is what saddens me about the institutional church.