As I previously mentioned, it might be helpful to identify some of the "decoys" that are faking us out in our search for the real Jesus. I intend to examine some of these things that I feel have taken his place in our spiritual lives. For now, let me just briefly introduce some broad (and cleverly, cutely named) categories.
· "Artificial Sweeteners" - This is one of our Western obsessions. We think that the best learning takes place in classrooms. We expect the teaching of God to be conveyed most often in artificial settings, like Sunday School, lectures, seminary, sermons, etc. There is a time and place for all of these. I'm not advocating throwing them all out, but we have divorced most of our teaching from the real lives we lead.
· "Kingdom Kids" - What we define as spiritual maturity may not match up with the Scriptures as well as we think. Perhaps, we underestimate the role children play, for instance, in the Kingdom of God. I submit that we do this as a direct result of not believing in the real Jesus as He has been revealed. We have come up with our own system of "discipleship" in which all the steps along the way are established and defined by us.
· "Calling the Qualified" - In our attempt to train people for service in the "Lord's army," we have basically ignored how God prepared people to serve Him in the Bible - and for that matter, whom He chose for the job. We consider the most qualified ministers those that have been to seminary or through years of training. Jesus had a remarkably different style of evangelism training.
· "The B-I-B-L-E...That's the Book for Me" - In most churches, Bible study has been elevated to the position of prime importance. As long as we can say we are studying the Bible religiously, we can "check the box" and appear as righteous as anyone else, even more so if we're good at it. This can clearly become a decoy as John 5 already vividly points out. The Pharisees diligently studied the Scriptures, but missed the whole point of coming to Jesus for eternal life.
· "Power Play" - This may be the most direct assault on the Headship of Jesus Christ. The way we have raised the status of human leadership, namely in the position of pastor/priest, definitely has the ability to turn many people's eyes away from the true Christ to a fallen substitute. Hierarchical structures have become the norm, but what if they are hiding the real Jesus from us? What if a new understanding of the Body of believers is what it takes to find our "Missing Person"?
As we trudge along into these territories, my only disclaimer is that these thoughts are mine - my perceptions, my observations, my feelings, and my opinions...and of course, that I am right all the time! (haha...just kidding)
(As a revised note about that last comment, the truth is that there are many, many people around the world who share these views. In fact, a substantially growing number of believers are making these same observations.)