A Disembodied Head? Part 2: The Key

This image is what some scholars think a typical first century Jewish man would have looked like. If our image of Jesus could be this far off due to the culture that chose our image (Middle ages Europe), could our interpretations of His teachings be off as well?

Hopefully I piqued your interest with yesterday’s teaser at the end of my post. I do believe that there is a “Key” to correctly interpreting everything in Scripture, and the Key is pointed out within the text. For me, the discovery was more of a “Duh” moment than an “Aha!” The Key was actually something that I was aware of, and would have told you I was using. The fact was, I knew the Key’s importance intellectually, but it didn’t really work its way into my theology for quite some time. The Key? Jesus.

Yep, you probably just said “Duh” to yourself, right? I mean, every Christian knows that Jesus is the Key to everything. He brings meaning to life. His death pays our price; His resurrection brings us hope. He is to be our Lord and our King. I knew all of that. What then was I missing? Somehow I missed the fact that all of Scripture must be interpreted in light of Him. All of the Bible really does turn on the person of Christ. I was unintentionally forgetting that, or at least not applying it thoroughly enough. If there is a verse that seems to contradict the teachings and words of Christ, they must be interpreted in light of Him to be correctly applied in forming theology. Christ Himself told us this, but it isn’t just His teachings, the New Testament hints at this all over the epistles. Here are a few verses that helped bring this home for me:

1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. 2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. 4 For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, 5 so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. (Romans 12.1-5)
11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. 14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. (Ephesians 4.11-16)
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. (1 Corinthians 12.27)
16 So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.16-20)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, 16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. 18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son 20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1.15-20)
But perhaps most importantly was this passage:
6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, but if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves. (John 14.6-11)
What really hit me, and has continued to become clearer and clearer these last few years, is that Jesus is the perfect image of God. If we truly see Him as He is in the gospels, we have seen God. This means that if there is a picture of God in the Bible, Old or New Testament, that seems on its face inconsistent with the gospel image of Christ, we are interpreting the other passage incorrectly. This awoke in me a passion to really dive into the gospels and see what the image of Christ was really like there. What I read wasn’t new to me, but what it implied awoke my soul to a new picture of God. This new image of God was one who finally began to look like the Messiah. Instead of a sometimes vindictive God, I saw His love throughout the Bible. I saw Him weeping over Jerusalem, not just in the gospels, but also through the prophets. God was not being vindictive in His judgement, He was simply, sadly, withdrawing His protection from the people He loved due to their choices. Sometimes He took the blame for their punishment, but if you look closely, it is always someone else actually carrying off the captives and dashing the babies on the rocks. I began to see God’s broken heart longing for a different type of relationship with all people, not just the Israel of the Old Testament.
Over the next few days (weeks?) I want to unpack some of the things that God revealed, and how they focused my theology, or in many cases re-focused my theology. These passages might also explain the idea behind the title of this series. If Christ is to be the head of the Church, are we following our head? Or is Christ giving us commands that we are choosing to ignore, and thus He is, in a sense, disembodied?
I look forward to formally thinking through and writing down this process  that I’ve been walking through for years. Obviously, this is deeply personal, but I’ve reached the point where I feel compelled to share my thoughts. Thanks to those of you who would like to journey with me through this, and I welcome feedback, especially constructive and edifying responses from those of you who may feel I’m missing something helpful along the way. I may not come to agree with you, but I might! Also, I value the input from those journeying with Christ who would like to help me see my own blind spots, or simply wish to help me appreciate another point of view. I humbly realize that I don’t have a corner on the Truth, and that many I respect greatly will disagree strongly with some of the conclusions I’ve reached. If comments come in on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, or through email, I’ll post responses if they warrant a full response to my whole audience.
Note to my Jewish, Atheist, etc. friends: your comments are welcome as well, and I pray that we can have an open conversation about what we value without demeaning each other, or having to pretend the differences don’t really matter. Our views on these things should matter greatly to us, but we should also be able to discuss them without degenerating to nastiness.

8 comments on “A Disembodied Head? Part 2: The Key

  1. Yup. That’s the key all right…

    Okay, dude… you in or what with the “MennoNerd” network? Just say the word. 😉

  2. […] The power of the sword is clearly given to the state, but there is no encouragement for Christians to be involved in that, at all! While the authorities are called “God’s servants”, they are “devoted to governing”, not God; Christians are called to be devoted to Christ. […]

  3. […] Yep, you probably just said “Duh” to yourself, right? I mean, every Christian knows that Jesus is the Key to everything. He brings meaning to life. His death pays our price; His resurrection brings us hope. He is to be our Lord and our King. I knew all of that. What then was I missing? …read more […]

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