Monday, March 02, 2009

Is it What He Does? Or Who He is?

Yesterday at church, while transitioning from sermon to communion time, Pastor Ken pointed out that we need to look to Jesus Christ for who He is, not just for what He can do for us. It stirred me out of the place I've been for the last few weeks, trying to look to Him rather than to the circumstances that bother me lately. I have to admit, I've been all about what Jesus might do for me, might demand of me, might be teaching me. I haven't been focusing much on just Jesus for who He is. Do I love Him just for who He is, or just for what He does for me?
I am by nature a selfish, self-absorbed human being. Back at the start of my Christian walk, I had to come to the very end of my own self to admit my need for Him, and have been pretty aware of His provision for me all this time. His whole appeal when I accepted Him as my Savior, I admit, was what He could do for me. Could He pull me out of my pit? He could?! Oh, my Savior He is...and I love Him just for who He is?
How do I separate the two? Who Jesus is, versus what He does for me? The Bible is so full of His provision for us, His love for us, His desire for us to trust in Him. All of this is about what He does for us, and I'm not saying that He doesn't want us to dwell on these things--He does; it helps us to trust in Him; but there is so much more, just about who He is, that isn't about the many aspects of Him that work on our behalf. Who He is, apart from what He does for us, is full grounds for unadulterated worship.

It doesn't seem that there is nearly so much that is about just Him in the Scriptures, separated from what He does for humanity. I have to really dwell on it in order to separate the two thoughts! So often when I am meditating on Jesus Christ, and who He is, and how worthy of worship and praise He is, I go through the alphabet and think of names for how many of these dwell only on who He is, and not how He is good for our particular needs? I don't mentally come up with all these names each time; some come up here and some there, but it's a good way for getting a varied picture of so much that He is to us. It seemed like a good way to sort out these aspects of Him between aspects that are on our behalf and aspects that are just who He is aside from our particular benefit; I'm sure I made some arguable designations here, but it was the best evaluation that came to mind; yes, meaning they are names that have primarily to do with who He is; no, meaning names which apply primarily to our benefit:

A: Accursed of God--for us--no.
Alpha and Omega--yes, that's pretty much all about Him!

Adonai (Master and Lord)--speaks of His power to protect us and His authority over us--no.
Ancient of Days--yes!
Angel of the Lord--yes!
Apostle--I don't think so, because He is named this alongside High Priest--which is for us.
Author and Finisher of our Faith--no.
B: Beautiful--yes. Beloved of God--yes!
Beginning and the End (Alpha and Omega again)--yes!
Branch: yes!
Bread of Life--hmm. I'd say, bread of our life--no.
Bridegroom--with us as the Bride--no.
C: Chief Cornerstone--hmm, not sure--yes?
Creator--sort of, but He, or we wouldn't be here to care.
D. Defender--no.
Door of the Sheep--we are the sheep--no.
E: Elohim--Creator, Preserver, Transcendant, Mighty and Strong--maybe not.
El Elyon--"Most High"--yes!
El Olam--Everlasting God--Yes!
Everlasting Father--yes?
Everlasting God--yes!
F: Father--no; our Father!
G: God--yes and no.
God our Rock--ours. no.
God who sees--no. He sees us!
Good Shepherd--no.
Great Physician--no.
Guardian of our souls--no.
H: Head--no.
High Priest--no.
Holy One--yes.
I: I AM--yes!
Image of the Invisible God--no--He was that for us.
Immanuel--God with US--no.
J: Jealous--no. He is jealous for us!
Jesus--Jesus means "Savior." No.
Jehovah--"The Self-Existent One"--yes.
Jehovah-Jireh--"The Lord who Provides"--no.
Jehovah Ra-ah--"The Lord my Shepherd"--no.
Jehovah Rophe--"The Lord who Heals"--no.
Jehovah-Nissi--"The Lord our Banner"--has something of a protective defender tone, so, no.
Jehovah M'Kaddesh--"The Lord who Sanctifies"--no.
Jehovah-Shalom--"The Lord our Peace"--no.
Jehovah-Shammad--"The Lord is Present"--yes.
Jehovah Sabaoth--"The Lord of hosts"--yes.
K: King of kings--yes. and no...because it testifies to His power, and what He can do for us.
L: Lamb of God--spotless sacrifice for our sins--no.
Light of the World--of our world--no.
Lord of lords--yes. and no...same as in King of kings!
M: Man of Sorrows--no.
Messenger--from God the Father to us--no.
Mighty God--yes.and no...testifies to His power and what He can do for us again.
Mighty One--yes. and no...same as in Mighty God, above.
Most High--yes!
N: Nazarene--for us--no.
P: Prince of Peace--I don't think so, He is our Peace.
R: Redeemer--no.
Righteous One--yes!
S: Savior--no.
Seed of the woman--no.
Servant--to do God's will--yes!
Son of God--yes!
Son of Man--no.
Sun of Righteousness--yes.
T: True Vine--yes!
W: Way--no.

Wisdom of God--yes!
Wonderful Counselor--no
Word (Logos)--yes!
Y: Yahweh--(Jehovah)--yes!

So in summary, here are some names that have to do with just who He is, rather than what He does for us: Alpha and Omega, Ancient of Days, Angel of the Lord, Beautiful, Beloved of God, Beginning and the End, Branch, Chief Cornerstone, El Elyon, El Olam, Everlasting Father, Everlasting God, God, Holy One, I AM, Jehovah-Shammad, Jehovah Sabaoth, King of kings, Life, Lord of lords, Mighty God, Mighty One, Most High, Righteous One, Root, Rock, Servant, Son of God, Sovereign, Sun of Righteousness, True Vine, Truth, Wisdom of God, Word, Yahweh.
I know I haven't included every name for Jesus; some I included more than once in different forms. Anyway, in conclusion, who can say that there's not enough to focus on about Jesus in just who He is? What He does for us, in history, in our lives, in the future...that's just icing on the cake. Even so, there is so much to focus on if you are having a hard time trusting in His strength and provision, and for the moment need to dwell on that instead (or better, in addition to just who He is)--He is all these things by His grace and kindness and mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us. Hallelujah! He reigns!

1 comment:

theGracegirl said...

I wasn't able to read all of this, but it reminded me of something a speaker said during the Truth & Life conference about suffering:

We may never even see why we suffered. We may, and that's great, but ultimately it is for the glory of God. And sometimes, we suffer and it's for others' benefit/growth/challenge/etc, not our own.

The idea that our suffering may have nothing to do with us just sort of shook me out of the American Consumer "what does everything in the world, in MY life, etc. have to do with ME?!" Mentality. So exciting to see a bigger picture. It's much more hopeful. :)