September 17, 2012

Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality

Wow, what a thought-provoking read! There is so much information packed into this book.

It basically sets out to explain the 'new spirituality' which is promoted by the likes of Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle.

Ravi Zacharias explains how the many religions of the world contribute to this belief system. Religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Platonism, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation and their many factions.

The first 3/4 of the book were dedicated to this and was quite heavy at times. I didn't realize these religions were so complex. I felt he treated them with respect, though he did seem frustrated (with good reason) with the constrictions within Deepak Chopra's spiritual views on who Jesus is and wrote of them extensively. This did help me to understand the flaws in Deepak teachings and how they go against Scripture.

He also tackles the meaning of truth. The new spiritually teaches we are divine and therefore truth is within us. There is no absolute in the new spirituality. Ravi Zacharias says of the tragedy of promising, through teaching we are divine:

"In promising sublimity and divinity to each of us, its proponents have actually made us less than we were meant to be. God alone knows how to humble us without humiliating us and how to exalt us without flattering us. and how he effects this is the grand truth of the Christian message."

The last 1/4 of the book was about the Biblical Jesus. This was refreshing to read after so much info on other religions.

I've decided not to quote to much from the book because it can easily be taken out of context. This is one of those books that needs to be read cover to cover to get the full meaning.

I will share this one quote though, which talks about the temple and Jesus proclaiming to be greater than the temple. 'Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.' Matt. 12:6. This is something I never understood before and Ravi explains it so well.

"Jesus said he was greater than the temple. (Matthew 12:6) The temple has a special authority and a hierarchy; all who wish to have equal access to Jesus. The temple was drowned in ceremony in an effort to attain intimacy with the Almighty; a relationship with Jesus is an intimacy that transcends ceremony. In a temple, you go to the place; Jesus comes to you. The temple is made of stone and mortar; the new temple Jesus spoke of, where he has promised to live and commune with each of us, is within the body of each believer. You can lie to a building; you cannot lie to a person with impunity.

In the book of Revelation, in the midst of John's description of the 'New Jerusalem' he is startled and declares: 'I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are its temple' Rev 21:22. Consummate worship requires no temple. Just as the sacrifices of the temple system pointed to the reality of Jesus on the cross, the temple itself foreshadowed ultimate communion with God, who is distinct from us and invites us into communion with him. There is no need for priests, no need for a temple, no power structure. Take note that this is not an absorption into impersonal, absolute consciousness. This is not union with the divine: This is communion with the God of the universe. It is not Advaita (nondualistic). This is an I-You relationship with our Creator. There is all the difference in the world."

We often hear in Christian circles Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. I found this quote gave this an even deeper meaning.

Ravi Zacharias quotes the first stanza of a hymn by A.B. Simpson which I thought was so beautiful and says simply what having a relationship with Jesus really means. I thought I'd share the whole song.

     by A. B. Simpson

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.

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