Is Jesus indispensable or merely wonderful? When you survey what is taught about him within many churches today and see what is being emphasized, it would seem that Jesus is wonderful (very, very wonderful, perhaps) but he’s not quite indispensable.
For instance, there is “Jesus the Social Worker” whose main message is to help the needy and poor. Now that’s a great thing to do, but we could help the poor & needy without Jesus. Thus, “Jesus the Social Worker” is merely wonderful, not indispensable.
Others teach about “Jesus the Peacemaker” whose main mission is to oppose war & violence. Once again, that’s a tremendously worthwhile pursuit, but it can be done with-or-without Jesus – thereby making him wonderful instead of indispensable.
There’s also “Jesus the Just” whose primary concern is freeing those who are oppressed or wrongly imprisoned. Here again, it’s a highly commendable endeavor, but it can be done (and is done) by secular organizations without the aid of Jesus, which means that “Jesus the Just” is also in the wonderful column instead of indispensable.
The list could go on with “Ethical Jesus”, “Jesus the Healer” and “Civil Rights Jesus” among others. Now, I don’t want to diminish those attributes of Jesus in any way. They are at the core of his very essence and reveal what an amazing Lord he truly is. However, if Jesus is only a “Social worker, peacemaker, just, ethical, etc…”, then we’re all still in our sins and bound for eternal death (both physically and spiritually). Sin & death are humankind’s primary “intractable” problems that render us utterly helpless without Jesus.
It’s “Jesus the Son of God” dying on the cross for our sins and being raised to give us eternal life that makes him INDISPENSABLE and not merely wonderful! Preaching or teaching that fails to make this message its cornerstone may still be able to portray Jesus as amazing & magnificent, but it ultimately makes him disposable.
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. [1 Cor. 15:1-4]
Worship – Grow – Serve