Stasi and I ran into an old acquaintance this last week. Someone we hadn't seen in what felt like eons. My reaction was somewhat surprising.
I wanted to throw myself on the ground and thank Jesus for delivering us from that view of God. (Now, that would have been a little awkward to do in their presence. So, I waited till I got home.)
By "that view" I mean a view of Jesus and Christianity that is so very widespread in the church. It goes something like this: You can't really know Jesus intimately. He is about more important things. But you must revere God from afar, because he is so high and lifted up and you are nothing. Humility is best expressed as self loathing. Godliness is available apart from intimacy with Jesus. It involves morality, mostly. But more so, holding the correct positions. Knowledge about God is mistaken for knowing God. Righteousness is purely external, behavioral. The heart is never to be looked at. Jesus is never someone you could hear laugh, or who would be concerned with the longings of your soul. In fact, Jesus isn't used much; "God" is the preferred person whom we address. Using Jesus is simply looked upon as too casual.
I once held to that. And I shudder.
As George MacDonald wrote, "Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God."
You understand, I trust, that there are many views of Jesus out there in the church. Some are closer to the truth than others. You also understand, I hope, that a false view of Jesus is worse than no view, because you think you hold the right thing you never go in search for him really.
a dear friend heard a sermon recently that basically went like this: You can't really know Jesus, because he isn't like your friends. He is vastly different from us. I think the attempt was to invoke reverence. But the teaching is from hell. You can know Jesus intimately, better than your friends. Or what in the world was the incarnation for? Jesus came for the very purpose that we might know God. Be intimate with him. Everything else is a sideshow.
And so the very best thing you could ever pray is "Jesus, I ask you for the real you; take away every false Christ and show me the real you."