Posted by Stephen Venable

Due to distance and dullness, our hearts seem to possess an invariable proclivity toward reducing Jesus to a mere concept. For some, this concept is very defined. For others, the idea of Jesus is much more vague and malleable. In either case, the danger is to have Jesus remain in our rhetoric (even impassioned rhetoric) but cease to be a devastatingly real Person whom we love and relate to. One of the surest antidotes to this threat is meditation on the Gospels. Time and time again it is only as I return to this practice that I realize the extent to which Jesus had degenerated into a noble idea in my soul. Baffled as to how such a thing could have transpired, I remember once more the dire necessity of grounding my life, my devotion, and my ministry in His life and His words.

It is before those pages that I must sit and linger until my dim eyes can discern His form again. I begin to faintly make out eyebrows, knees, a chin, and toes. I see a real mouth with lips and teeth speaking those matchless words. This is God in the flesh – the One who came and who is coming again. I can’t contort Him to be whoever I want Him to be. Nor can I just throw His name around to justify agendas and pursuits that find no home in His heart – a heart that beat and bled beneath hard ribs and soft skin. I have to reckon and relate to the very concrete, eminently tangible Life before me now. And in so doing, a startling thing begins to happen. In a way so different than colorful language or fleeting emotion, I actually begin to love who He is.

One Response to The Antidote of Gospel Meditation

  1. Bret says:

    The blogs today (12.16.11) are buzzing with the news that Christopher Hitchens, that famous atheist, has passed. This was a man who had “reduced Jesus to a mere concept,” and then lived out that dullness with the fervor of religious conviction.

    Hitchens was a courageous atheist, if there can be such a thing. What else could we call such a vocal and determined suppressing of the truth over the course of an entire lifetime? If not courageous, perhaps consistent, though being consistently wrong is no more admirable than be persistently lost.

    But what then would we call any approach to life or religion that wavers from a concrete encounter with a “devastatingly real Jesus” but that falls short of Hitchens systematic atheism? Wreckless? Pitiable? Or, as you say, dangerous. Yes, that.

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