So Ed Dobson has been given the task of promoting the “Jesus Lifestyle” at Cornerstone. I think that is good. But this is my question: what does he mean by “Jesus lifestyle”? You see this is all the rage now days, with self identified “Red Letter” Christians and the like, and what they typically mean by “Jesus Lifestyle” is all the ethical concerns of Jesus without any of the theological concerns. They want a Jesus viewed only through the eyes of the four Gospels and then only in those words Jesus actually spoke (in the four gospels). The problem with all this is that Jesus did not cease to speak or act or be when he spoke his last words before the ascension. His words are found on every remaining page of the New Testament (and every page of the Old Testament for that matter).
This brings me back to Dr. Ed Dobson. Will he teach the way of Jesus found on every page or will he teach an only ethical Jesus (who by the way is a favorite of the Muslims and Buddhist). Knowing of Dr. Dobson throughout his years here in Grand Rapids my inclination would be to say he will teach Jesus in all his Glory from Genesis to Revelation, however the recent article in the Grand Rapids Press is giving me cause for concern, this is what he said:
“I have a deep interest in promoting the Jesus lifestyle,”
which is good, this however is how the Press explains what that is
“[Dobson] has devoted this year to emulating Jesus. He is growing his beard, eating kosher and avoiding work on the Sabbath, as Jesus did.”
Are these things what Dobson will be promoting at Cornerstone? If it is then we have a major issue. Because in fact, none of those things are the enduring Jesus lifestyle that every believer must emulate (and not just for a year)…Those things are the Jesus culture, we are called to live the Jesus lifestyle. We are not called to live the Jesus culture, just as we are not called to live the American West Culture, or the World War II era culture or any other culture. The only culture we are called to live is the one we are born into. To do anything less is not to live the Jesus lifestyle, it is to mock the incarnation. God has placed us at a time and a place in history for a reason, to be him in that time and place. The best way to do that is to live out both the ethical and theological concerns found on every page of scripture as interpreted through the lens of Christ himself. We are his incarnation (small i) in this time and place. Now I am not saying what Dobson is doing is wrong (it is weird, but not wrong). I just am afraid it is unhelpful, unnecessary and confusing at a time when many churches are abandoning the fullness of the whole Gospel for a piecemeal version. I really see no difference between this behavior and the behavior of the Amish, who while they are cute and make good pies, have a defective and moralistic view of grace. If there is one thing that is an enemy of the Jesus life style it is not Bacon (or as I call it, a secondary sign of the new covenant) it is moralism based upon the concept that what we do will equate to a Jesus lifestyle. The reality is that the only thing that will lead to any of us living a Jesus lifestyle is Jesus, his blood, his righteousness, his grace, his spirit. This is why Romans makes clear that it is God who is conforming us to the image of his Son. Kosher living besides being intrinsically illogical for Gentile believers, is just another form of moralism and another attempt to measure up, and a bad one at that. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that gentile Christians, of whom the unclean food was a symbol are now flocking back to Kosher living? This is a perfect picture of the state of Graceless moralistic faith in general, as moralism is our attempt to make clean what God has already declared to be. I understand the desire to be a subversive Jesus follower who does not let culture control or warp the authentic Jesus, I understand that we will have to be radical to be salt and light! I just believe that to live the “Jesus lifestyle” is a whole lot more radical than adopting his shaving habits.