I had an appointment with a man who ran a t-shirt business. In the course of our conversation, I asked him, “What t-shirt logo got the most response from people?” Without missing a beat he said, “The one with only three words written across the front – ‘Jesus is God.’” He said there was a certain level of positive response, but also a lot angry confrontation and disgust that someone would wear such a garment in public.
People have asked me what I consider my bottom line for everything in theology. I would have to agree with the t-shirt. Jesus is God and because of that reality, we need to make sure we know what that means because everything we do in God’s name will flow from that single understanding.
We are emerging from a season of theological confusion and deconstruction that comes when a faith has not been challenged in a culture by real life and death opposition and where everyone is doing what seems right in their own eyes. In those times of an unchallenged faith, strange interpretations of truth can emerge.
Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the religious leaders in Jerusalem and said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul was writing to the Galatians explaining why he was persecuted for what he preached and wrote, “If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended” (Galatians 5:11). And in the next chapter, Paul addressed those who were compromising the message of Jesus, “They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save” (Galatians 6:12). Jesus wore the t-shirt and so did Peter and Paul and the rest of the early disciples.
So, what is your bottom line? What is written across the front of your theological t-shirt? It is never comfortable in a culture like ours to announce the divinity and singularity of salvation through Jesus Christ, but that is the biblical record and the history of the believing Church. That is my bottom line and I want to wear that truth with compassion, never with compromise.