This is a phrase I heard and said several times in my youth. It was sometimes the way to hopefully bring comfort, sometimes a way to trump a conversation, and sometimes a way to remind myself why others were not the answer...others like Gandhi, Buddha, Mohammad, etc. It might have been wrapped up in Jesus being absolute truth and it was most always wrapped up in something about having a personal relationship with God. "Jesus is the answer" meant having a personal relationship with Jesus (ie. talking, walking, hanging with J-E-S-U-S) and that relationship was somehow the final answer.
That was my youthful fundamentalist understanding.
I wrote a post a few days ago about coming back to words like believer and others that I had disposed of a few years back. This is a phrase I'd like to come back to.
You see, in my limited understanding of Jesus' core message and his charge to his followers to go out and live and teach this Kingdom Way, he was not calling people to go out to introduce them to this new religious celebrity. He was calling people to actually live out this Kingdom Way and train others in loving Creator by loving creation. Seems simple enough for me to find this in the Gospels.
But somewhere along the way (and perhaps quite recently) there has been a shift away from the man's teachings and just to him as a person. Interesting.
Okay follow me for an example of how silly this shift seems...
So, if I am a student, nay, a disciple, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then how am I going to conduct my life if he charges me to make disciples or to do greater things than he was able to do in his existence? When I meet people, would I ask them if they want to get to know the King? Would I ask folks to trust him or trust in him?
I don't think I would.
I think to be faithful to Dr. King in making disciples in this Way that he spoke of would be to actually live that way and invite others to live in that way...and not only live in it, but live in and beyond it. If he said that we, his mere disciples, would do greater things after his death, wouldn't we attempt that? To go beyond Dr. King's teachings to even greater realizations of this way?
Would I be so hung up on telling people that it was Dr. King who said these things and no one else? Would I require all students to read his books and say that other books that say similar things are a threat to this way? The others are wrong, I'd tell my friends.
Perhaps Jesus is the answer...but not in some hyper-romatic sort of way. Perhaps a relationship to him is a relationship to our common man, or perhaps to "the least of these" as he said in one of his sermons. Perhaps he is the answer because he led a way for humanity to fully realize itself in the greater story. He awoke us to this Kingdom in our midst...the Human One (as Luke calls him) led the way for a new possiblity for humanity... and still leads the way (as do several others who have passed on).
Would I not tell people that I am a disciple of this Jewish prophet, Jesus? Of course I wouldn't hold that back from them. But would I go there first? I don't think so...not here and now. Jesus' message has echoes thoughout humanity and there are so many other places to start. If I am truly looking to make disciples in this Kingdom Way, I think that in our context (American or Western), it might actually get in the way. Perhaps the very name has become a stumbling block to those who actually are seeking his Way. Could this be?
Now before some of you blast me about how he is a stumbling block or how no one comes to the Father but by him, really think about what I am trying to say here. I am not saying that Jesus was not the Ultimate One, but perhaps his initiative was not to introduce himself to others, but instead to show how to truly be as creation ought to be.