The Christ Illuminated Life

The following is not a fully developed essay, as I often do when posting a blog, but just some thoughts I will share in our staff chapel tomorrow morning. Feel free to read them if you like.

“The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” -John 1:9

Once a person comes to believe that Jesus is the Christ, there are two options for responding positively to this reality. Allow me to set them forth.

Option # 1: Objective Prioritization

This is the response where Jesus becomes the prioritized object in a person’s life. With this approach the view is held that a person’s life consists of various categories; e.g. marriage, vocation, possessions, hobbies, friends, etc. And now Jesus is made the number one priority in the hierarchy of categories, so that Jesus is prioritized above every other category. This is by far the most commonly taught way of responding to Jesus and is basically regarded as the essence of discipleship and living a Christian life.

But it is mistaken.

It is mistaken because, even though it prioritizes Jesus, it still segregates Jesus to a category — the religious or “Jesus” category of life. In so doing Jesus is neatly objectified and relegated to a particular category of life, which is, in fact, a way of “controlling” Jesus. And despite the popularity of this approach, the Bible does not use the kind of language associated with this approach; e.g. “make Jesus number one”, “give Jesus first place in your life”, or even, “make Jesus the Lord or your life.”

(Seriously, the Bible does not use that kind of language. And I will go so far as to say I see enormous problems associated with the idea that you can “make” Jesus Lord of your life. Jesus is Lord. Period. Jesus is Lord because of the actions of the Father in raising him from the dead and exalting him to his right hand. Simply put, Resurrection and Ascension make Jesus Lord, and nothing I do or do not do will make Jesus any more or any less Lord. My repentance in light of the Lordship of Jesus will make an enormous difference in my life, but it will not “make” Jesus Lord. The idea that my “decision” can “make” Jesus Lord in any sense that he is not already Lord seems very “democratic”…and laughable.)

Option # 2: Comprehensive Illumination

This approach rejects the assumption that people actually systematize their lives in the form of a prioritized list. People may theorize this way, but they do not live this way. The comprehensive illumination approach does not bother with ranking the categories of life, rather it allows Jesus to illuminate and inform every area of life. This way, Jesus is never segregated to a religious category, but informs and transforms every aspect of life. The light of Christ shines upon marriage, vocation, finances, recreation, relationships, etc., and we learn to live in the light of Christ; life is lived as whole, with Christ informing and illuminating the whole life.

The comprehensive illumination of Christ does not give Jesus first place, but every place. This rescues Jesus from banishment (or even exaltation) to a religious category.

The difference between the person who religiously prioritizes Jesus and the one whose life is thoroughly illuminated by Jesus is an enormous one.

Such are my thoughts on this hot and muggy night in June.


(The painting is Van Gogh’s Olive Grove. You will notice that the sun in the painting does not have “first place”, but illuminates everything.)