Christ and You

You probably already know the story – Jesus and the Disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat when a storm comes up. The wind and waves pick up and the Disciples start to panic. They call on Jesus, and Jesus grumpily wakes up and calms the storm, then rebukes them for their lack of faith.

My friend Rich preached on this story last week – I thought he did a great job, but at some point in the sermon I diverged in my own thinking. I got out a pen and wrote on my hand (which I do because I have a poor short-term memory) “Why is Christology about Christ?”

I’ve always heard the above story interpreted to mean that we are to have faith that Jesus is with us in our tribulation, that Jesus is the one who can calm the storms in our lives, etc. Though he expanded this nicely, this was a main point that Rich was making. I want to say that I think this interpretation is “right”, whatever that means.

On the other hand, I have to wonder – in the story, as it appears in English at least, the disciples do have faith in Jesus. They call upon him to quell the storm when they can’t take it anymore. But Jesus seems to have had an expectation that wasn’t met. He’s grumpy for some reason.

What struck me was to ask: what was Jesus’ expectation of the Disciples that was frustrated and unfulfilled? What was the faith that they lacked in this story?

I came back to something that I come back to a lot, something that keeps coming up. I think we tend to externalize Christ because it is safe. It separates him into a hermetically sealed container marked “Christ” what we can turn in our hands and investigate under a microscope but never really deal with.

If you cornered me and asked me to sum up the “point” of Christianity, I would probably say something like “Christianity is the art of becoming Christ.” At the end of the day, we have to deal with things like when Jesus says ‘you will do greater things than these in my name’. We have to deal with what Jesus might have wanted in the above story – for the Disciples to calm the storm. Do I think we could ever become Christ entirely? No. Just like an Olympic runner knows she can never run a three-minute mile. That doesn’t keep her from training, though.

We are driven by unattainable ideals because they call us to move beyond what we expect of ourselves. I think that’s the kind of faith that Jesus expected of the Disciples – the kind of faith we are called to.

5 thoughts on “Christ and You

  1. I think (I hope, anyway) that it’s possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that isn’t based on examining him under a microscope, nor trying to become him. Instead, like other loving relationships between people, we and Jesus are separate and can communicate and show love and hear one another’s stories.Relationships of any kind involve accountability, responsibility–human relationships challenge us to be there for one another and to live up to the promises and loyalties that the relationships are based on. I wonder if there might be more loyalty, more challenge, required in a personal relationship than in just trying to live up to one’s own best self. (Maybe there’s an assumption here about love being stronger than willpower. :))So in this framework, Christology is an attempt at describing the one with whom we are in relationship, and describing what the history of that relationship has been so far.That said–from what little bit (and it’s a very little bit) I know about Greek Orthodox Christology, it’s pretty close to your suggestion of becoming Christ. The idea is that we were meant to be divine beings, but we got stunted or bent, and we need to get un-bent.

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  2. what you are suggesting is exactly what we are learning in Gospels with Herman Waetjan. Christianity is about us being (to use his words) “co-enthroned” with Christ. Rich did a really nice job on that sermon, but your question is a huge one. I think Jesus, after spending so much time and energy with the disciples, wanted them to understand that THEY should be calming the storm. We sometimes overemphasize Jesus as the guy we’re in a relationship with at the expense of Christ as our example of how to live life fully. Becoming Christ is a scary proposition. Its a task I doubt I’m up to. It ultimately leads to the cross and, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t want that for myself. But it is what I signed up for.This is a great blog, Doug!

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  3. I’ve been thinking that they key here is what sort of relationship you’re talking about with Christ.One metaphor is adoption. In that case, it’s like you’re part of the family so to speak – the Father, the Son, Crazy Aunt Holy Spirit, and you, Derek or Heather or Doug. Like in any family, you’re equals but you’re also not. Equality of position but not of authority, perhaps.Another metaphor is romantic love, and in that case, you have a central theme of equality – again, maybe not literal equality, but equality of standing. My love with Pam is intrinsically connected to my equality with Pam, even though we’re not equal in everything at all times.A big Biblical metaphor is a kind of fealty – mutual service between a lord and a liege, so to speak. This is hard to get our heads around as modern people, and I’m not sure if its a very powerful metaphor for our age. I mean, is Christ then a landlord, or boss?I definitely want to take this class with Waetjan now. And I’m glad you like the blog, I’ll definitely continue it.

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  4. I thought the crazy aunt thing was pretty good too–and this is a crazy aunt that the rest of the family really listens to!

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