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Incomplete Labels

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. —G. K. Chesterton

Do you ever lie awake at night and consider your last weeks, last days, and last hours? It amazes me that a day will come when my heart no longer pumps blood through my body. In these moments, I realize time is short.

Recently a friend invited me into his final weeks. As we sat together and talked, I was compelled to ask, “Tell me how you’re really doing?”

How would you answer that question? I think our answer depends upon the depth of our Christology. Do we know Jesus? If we know Him, do we understand Him?

Because, let’s face it, many of the labels we give to Jesus capture only part of His identity. Some say He was an effective teacher. Others say He was a revolutionary. Some say Jesus was a gentle and meek sheep hugger. (That’s why we have all those paintings of Him holding lambs, right?) Others say He was an unfortunate martyr or a compassionate and benevolent advocate for the poor.

Jesus was many of these things, but He is also more. And until we understand the “more,” we are incomplete in our understanding. This is a tragedy, friends, for an incomplete understanding of Jesus leads to a tentative faith. 

One of my favorite questions in the Gospels is when Jesus turns to Peter and asks, “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29). Plenty of people had plenty to say, but Jesus wanted to know Peter’s thoughts.

He might ask the same question of us.

As we continue in the first chapter of Hebrews, we witness an argument concerning Jesus’ rank above the angels. As we continue, we’ll see a simple, bold point: Jesus is greater. And when compared with Jesus, everything else is lesser.

How would we both live and die differently if Jesus’ greatness were front and center in our thinking? Would a tentative faith become bold, sure, and buoyant?

Jesus, show me the labels of partial understanding I’ve given You. I ask that Your Spirit give me endurance in our relationship, until I can answer with as much certainty as Peter that You are Lord. Prepare me to receive the understanding You desire to give. Amen.

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