The Face of Christianity is Jesus. I feel like Captain Obvious making this point but peruse Church websites, Christian Twitter, or the Nightly News’ reporting on Christianity and tell me if you see Jesus front and center?
There is no Christianity without Christ; he is the face of the faith. Just as Michael Jordan was the face of the Chicago Bulls or Mickey Mouse is the face of Disney or Steve Jobs is still the face of Apple, Jesus should be the face of Christianity.
The problem, in some people’s minds, is that Jesus lived 2,000 years ago and he needs to be updated for modern purposes. How wrong they are. Name any teaching by Jesus and convince me that what he has to say is irrelevant because advancement in thinking, technology, or sophistication. None of these advancements fix our inherent human problems of sin, how to live, creating good, and avoiding destruction. Only Jesus’ teaching can show us how to be a good person, only Jesus’ death can fix our imperfection and sin, only Jesus’ power can solve the world’s problems.
If we don’t make Jesus the face of the faith then something utterly inferior takes his place. Here are some common imposters for the face of the faith:
The Bible – The fundamental authority of scripture to reveal God to us is not in question and shouldn’t be ignored. But, to make the Bible the face of the faith means we set aside the relational aspect of faith in Jesus and limit our thinking on the power of Jesus and his ultimate Lordship. The Bible says that God’s word is a light unto our path but Jesus is the path.
Family – Jesus’ own family was devout and loving and caring. One of Jesus’ dying words was for his mother to be taken care of. Family was and is essentially important. Yet, Jesus seemed to want to push his followers to a broader and more expansive view of family. Once, Jesus’ actual family was looking for him and wanted to speak with him but he ignored them for a time so he can explain that the Family of God, the seeds of the church, were around him learning and obeying his teaching. The Christian community, centered on Jesus, is just as important as our actual families.
Politics – There are many features of modern government and society that need a Christian critique and established laws to protect Christian ethics and values. There is no questioning that. But, when politics becomes the face of the faith then believers are placing their trust in a man-made institution that is easily corrupted by power disguised as doctrine and evil disguised as virtue. Christians should always resemble Jesus’ love, mercy, care, joy, and peace. If our lives resemble the opposite of these things then Jesus is not the face of our faith and our thinking is distorted and corrupted.
Make Jesus the face of Christianity by learning from him, taking his yoke, and pursuing his way, his truth, and his life. Anything else is not just a poor substitute but a dead end that does not bring an abundant life.