Unfortunately Christian culture reflects popular culture. Christian’s have their celebrity figures, preachers, singers, etc. Although I have serious problems with cult followings, a more serious problem is how that much of the church interprets Christ.
Skewed vision abounds. We see ourselves through the lenses of self-worth and of entitlement. There is a serious misplaced estimation of ourselves. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters. We see ourselves as the hero of scripture. We are the “David” facing the Goliaths of the world. We read ourselves into the narratives of scripture as Abraham, David, Samson, Daniel among others. While we can glean principles and receive instruction from Bible figures let me say this: You are not the hero of the Bible! The world does not revolve around you! I think Matt Chandler’s sermon on this subject and subsequent reception at Stephen Furtick’s code Orange meetings well reflects how much the modern church appreciates this truth.
So here we have a serious misrepresentation of self and skewed interpretation of Christ. Christ, according to much of church teaching, is sort of a glorified “life coach”. He is here to comfort us, give us strength, and be the best cheering leading parent on the side line while His child conquers in the game of life. You get the point, Jesus is secondary while we (our happiness, problems, victories, sadness, struggles) are the most important theme.
Unfortunately much of today’s instruction is exactly this. Doctrinally, (a position of faith that is buried in the pastor’s library or on the church’s website) a church may appear orthodox, yet practically they have become narcissistic in teaching. So this brings us to the grand point of today’s rant: Interpreting Christ.
Christ is the hero! Christ is the center! And the scriptures are about Him. The book of Hebrews paints a pretty clear picture that Christ is the antitype of all Old Testament figures. We are not David, Moses, Daniel, or Samson: Christ is the central figure. The victories won are a foreshadowing of the victories of Christ. The oft quoted passages of us being victorious and overcomers are only applicable to us via our connection with Christ. In short they are His victories that we are allowed to participate in only through faith. Our crowns will be cast at His feet, for we overcome only through Him. Our testimony is we overcame through His Blood.
In fact scripture is careful to paint Christ a certain way, as the culmination of the types in scripture again notice the book of Hebrews. Any honest review of the scriptures will yield the centrality of Christ. The Gospel is about the doing and dying of Christ. The Gospel is not about our victory in this world, but about Christ’s victory. Our participation is only by grace through faith. We participate in His victory and do not accumulate our own. A spiritual diet should lift Christ up and contextualize men as they are: fallen and in need of a savior. The great and earliest deception is to magnify men to a “god-like” state (Genesis 3). Great care should be taken when estimating ourselves.
In application, first, may the Holy Spirit shift us from ourselves to Christ in the scriptures. Second, an honest reading of scriptures is in order. Do not fall into the trap of reading oneself into the text. Thirdly, beware of teachers that are lovers of self, constantly promoting self and human ability, no matter how much spiritual jargon they use.