In November 2011 I had the privilege of hearing N.T. Wright speak. His lecture title was, “How God Became King.” It’s been over a year since that day and it still sits as one of the more profound moments in my faith journey.
He opened with an insightful look at the Apostles’ Creed arguing it overlooked a glaring reality – the life of Christ. The Methodist version of this creed goes like this:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
By breaking this creed down line by line you quickly come to a litany of Jesus’ theological high points with one overwhelming oversight.
born of the Virgin Mary, (Christmas)
suffered under Pontius Pilate, (Passion week)
was crucified, dead, and buried; (Good Friday)
the third day he rose from the dead; (Easter)
he ascended into heaven, (Pentecost)
It’s interesting. This is the most famous creed in Christian life. Orthodox, Catholics, Methodist, and Presbyterians all say it weekly if not daily. And it’s noteworthy to see the theological energy given to Jesus’ birth and death with no mention of his life. This is a shame, for the life of Christ (in my opinion) contains the essential ingredients on how we as Christians are to model our lives.
It’s as if the season of Epiphany is irrelevant or just not worth our mention. But I think it is.
For it is in the life of Christ we see him offer love to those whom everyone hates, preach peace in a time of war, offer hope to women who should feel hopeless, heal outsiders and nobodies, condemn injustices and religious malpractices, and demonstrate a passionate storyline of how God becomes king.
Without the life of Christ, we wouldn’t have the ethical flagpole of the Sermon on the Mount, the miraculous Transfiguration, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the Lord’s Prayer, the theological depth found in the parables, the grace given to Gentiles, or the hope felt in the Upper Room.
It’s a shame for anybody to overlook the life of Christ – intentionally or unintentionally. So this year let’s re-open the pages of the gospels. Let’s discuss and discern the nature and character of Jesus’ ministry, for it has the power to change our lives — perhaps more than anything else we find in the bible . . . perhaps.