These are confusing times and there is a sea of contradictory voices all striving for our attention and devotion. Everyone says they have the right answer and many claim a new understanding. Confused about whether God is real? Is God listening? Bullied at school? Parents getting divorced? How does a God of love allow people to go to hell? Evolution? Is God mean? Why do bad things happen to good people? Who does God vote for? Where do we go for answers? This leads me to the main question: “Is Jesus really enough?”
This is becoming a complicated question that deserves a simple answer. Let me state it plainly and then expound on some things that I see everyday and that I believe are causing confusion in our lives. Is Jesus really enough? The simple answer is a resounding “YES! Absolutely 100%!” That is, if you are talking about the Jesus of the Bible who is “the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6) and whose word never changes. His Word is the absolute authority! “The grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of our God stands forever.”(Isaiah 40:8). On the other hand, however, the Jesus that I see represented in some of our “influencer” culture such as musicians, singers, celebrities, modern worship songs, etc, seems to be a Jesus that in fact is most definitely, “not enough.” I say this not to be mean or shocking. I say this because if the Jesus we know does not jive with the Jesus of the Bible, then we are in fact not worshipping the one true God, but instead we are worshipping an idol. An idea crafted by our own imaginations of a god that we would prefer, who gives us everything we want, and a god that allows his morality to be defined by us.
First of all, I am not against “influencers”. I am one! But I AM suggesting that influencers should have a proper place of influence in our lives, and that place should be firmly way WAY below the teaching of Scripture and its applications. Christian influencers should point people towards the Jesus of the Bible, and be a source of encouragement etc. We influencers should NOT be a replacement for the teaching of truth.
Secondly, and this is the reason this is becoming complicated, we need to recognize why influencers even exist. Before the existence of YouTube and blogging and the internet, Christian leaders, speakers, pastors and teachers used to be trained PRIOR to performing most serious teaching roles. This may include bible school, discipleship classes, mentoring relationships etc. There is a level of training and discipline required so that we do not thrust leaders in to the spotlight before they are ready. This is for their own protection as well as for the protection of God’s people from unorthodox teaching. Even well-intentioned unorthodox teaching. With the rise of the internet and social media platforms, anyone can be an influencer. With or without training, at any age, with or without understanding of the Bible. This is becoming a real problem because many of the modern Christian influencers do not have a grounding in the word of God and shockingly some do not even believe in the authoritative word of God.
This leads me to my point about Jesus “being enough.” We are being tossed to and fro in our lives because everyone tells us what to do and all of the answers conflict with one another! As a follower of Jesus, we should not treat the Bible, psychology, celebrity twitter feeds, and gossip from our friends all with equal weight. The Bible is THE source of truth. If science or psychology disagree with the Bible, then our decision on what to believe or what to do should be simple. Follow the Bible! Science changes constantly. Psychology changes constantly. Popular opinion on morality changes constantly. The point is that everything changes. We are living in a world that does not believe in absolute truth. Therefore, our culture does not believe in absolute morality. Unfortunately, morality is being defined on a day by day basis, depending on the loudest voices and the agenda of the powerful. Nothing is sure. You cannot count on anything because every single thing in this life will crash and burn except for the solid firm foundation of the unchanging Word of God and the Lordship of King Jesus.
Why is all of this important? There is a movement happening in Christianity that I call the “I’m into Jesus but not into the Bible” people. This is bizarre because Jesus IS the word of God. Literally. If the Bible isn’t true, then how would we possibly know who Jesus is? One may admire Jesus, or agree with some of his principles…but one cannot LOVE Jesus and not believe his word. This movement I speak of doesn’t worship Jesus. Instead, they worship a god that is their own version of light and love, who cares for us so deeply that his world is consumed with chasing us all the while pleading and unsure if we will indeed love him back…a god that lets everything be about me and what I need and gives me everything I want because I am so important…a god that is always “for me” no matter what I choose, and loves and accepts and forgives me even if I forever reject him and die in rebellion against him. If this is our definition of Jesus, then we are in fact not worshipping the Jesus of the Bible, but rather an idol of our own creation! A human idea of benevolence and goodness that is bereft of power, justice, sovereignty, and a jealousy for the holiness of His great name. How many times do I hear people say “all that matters is love and loving and accepting people.” How accepting was Jesus when he saw the money changers buying and selling in the temple? We Christians are very comfortable with Jesus the lamb. We are not so comfortable with Jesus the Lion. Yes, Jesus loves us and yes Jesus cares for us and yes Jesus is with us! But his first and foremost passion is for the authority and fame of HIS OWN GREAT NAME. He doesn’t apologize for his actions. He answers to no one. He defines what is good and right and holy. We should rest affirmed in the knowledge that our God is good and there is no morality higher or superior. We don’t have to defend Him. His honor and supremacy defends Himself. All hail, King Jesus!
So where do we go from here? My advice to all Christians is go to church and experience the family of God. Secondly, let’s begin to have an appetite for truth over our appetite for entertainment. Listening to bible teaching is not as fun as watching influencer YouTube vids. Sooo???? Stop making decisions based on what is fun and start making them based on what is ultimately soul-satisfying. Thirdly, we Influencers need to realize that we are in fact “influencing” people. And I am asking all of us to consider this dire warning: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). Should we be serious about what we say? About what we post on social media? And finally I would conclude with this piece of advice: if you don’t know where to start in the Bible, then pick up a copy of “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer. Or “The knowledge of the holy” by A.W. Tozer. Spend 10 minutes reading about God’s attributes and read the corresponding scripture references provided. 10 minutes a day and you will fall so deeply, madly, satisfyingly in love with the God of the Bible, that His love will taste so sweet that you will not want to drink from any other well. I dare say that all of the confusing questions that weigh you down will fade in the light of your adoration for the King of Kings. You will experience a spectrum ranging from love, hope, awe, and fear as you are awakened to a God that is both too high to imagine and so humble that he calls you a friend. Jesus is our savior, our hope, our God, our friend, our ALL. Yes. Jesus is indeed enough.
John Cooper is the lead vocalist, bassist and songwriter/producer for Skillet, one of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century. The two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated 12x platinum band was recently invited into Pandora’s Billionaire club after garnering 2 billion streams, received a pair of GRAMMY® Award nods, sold over 12 million albums worldwide, taken home a Billboard Music Award and more. Their tenth full-length project, Victorious released via Atlantic Records on August 2nd.
Follow John on Instagram @johnlcooper