Maybe I am just an odd student, but I love conferences or shall I say more specifically FOCUS! I have been at Focus for the last four years, but this year I had a specific interest since one of the three regional events would be in my stomping grounds – Lubbock, Texas! Not only was I excited about it being in Lubbock, but because I would get to see friends from Baptist Student Ministries all over West Texas.
This year, the conference is lead by Alan Hirsch and worship is led by Shane & Shane. Before tonight, I had little contact with Alan – all I knew was that he has been a leader in the church planting movement. But after the service tonight, I am shaken up by the things he had to say. But shaken up in a good way.
Alan opened his talk with a radical statement: “It’s better to be an athiest than to live under a wrong conception of God.” At first I had no clue what he was talking about, but then he began to elaborate on the supposedly “middle class Jesus” we are acqainted with. He proceeded to show several depictions of Jesus that have been created over centuries – ones that showed a “Sunday school Jesus” who loves all the children, a “Spooky Jesus” where He has beams of light coming from Him, or one that depicts Him as “my homeboy.” There may be slight truth to these identities since Jesus really does care about the children, and He is a friend and is the light of the world. But that is not the only characteristics or actions Jesus holds.
Alan asked the question, “Do we really know Jesus?” or are we like the Pharasee’s in the Bible who followed a religion and their own ideals. He mentioned that Jesus is radical, and it’s not safe to follow Him. The term radical comes from the word radics, meaning root. Therefore, we personally need to go back to beginning and learn who Jesus really is.
As he continued his talk, I must admit that I grew more and more uncomfortable. I realized that though I have been growing in my walk with Christ, I do not live in a way that shows a radical and accurate picture of who Jesus is. Sure, I try to be kind to the people around me, but do they really know that Jesus brings life and has the power to change who they really and bring hope to their life?
Jesus came to set us free from religion, but so often I choose to walk down that path and not follow the “Real” Jesus.
By Kaitlin Chapman