When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the body of Christ to come to its senses and spell out the biblical bands which define it, the Spirit of God impels us to arise in the same confidence as our ancestors who unwaveringly proclaimed “the present truth” for their day and time and declare the causes which compel this Manifesto.
We hold these truths to be biblically-evident, that all people have fallen short of the glory of God, that they are endowed by their Creator with a Savior, who is Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, our risen, rising, and reigning Lord. He is the heat in our heart, the marrow of our mind, and the art of our life.
Alas, much of the contemporary church has short-changed Jesus. It has replaced Christ with methods, strategies, concepts, principles, doctrines, programs, fads, gimmicks, etc., and has lost Him who is the Center and Circumference of our faith.
To demonstrate this, we submit the following to a candid world:
Jesus Christ is the subject, goal, and motivation of our faith and devotion.
Jesus Christ came to show us how to be a new kind of human, a Jesus kind of human. He came to do what Adam failed to do. He is the firstborn of a new humanity.
Jesus Christ is the “e” that turns the human into the humane-Emmanuel-God with us.
Jesus Christ is alive. He lives. He lives His resurrection life in and through us-members of His beloved bride-the body of Christ on earth.
Jesus is the Way. What is Christianity? It is Christ.
Jesus is the Life. What is the gospel? It is Christ.
Jesus is the Truth. What is truth? It is Christ.
Truth is personified in a person. That person is Christ. Truth is not an ideology. Truth is not a philosophy. Truth is not an ethics. Truth is Christ. When the gospel truth becomes something other than Christ, the church suffers from JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder.
The gospel is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in Love, the Love of God in Christ. The mystery of life has a name: LOVE. God is love, and there is no God outside of Jesus Christ. Hence there is no authentic love outside of Jesus. The Greatest Lover that this universe has ever known says to each and every one of us, “Follow me.”
Not “follow my preachings”
or “follow my teachings”
or “follow my practices”
But “Follow me.”
Not “follow me” to become more “like me.” That is too low an ambition for a Christian.
Not “follow me” to “mimic me.” But “follow me” to “manifest me.”
Not “follow me” to “imitate me.” But “follow me” to let my Spirit be implanted in you and to you.
Not “follow me” to become more “like me.” But “follow me” to “become part of me.” “I am in you and you are in me, as the Father is in you and you are in Him. You are my sister and you are my brother.” This is not a metaphor. . . . Our greatest dream is to write with our lives a Jesus autobiography.
The “Jesus of History” cannot be separated from the “Christ of Faith.” The Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee is the same person who indwells the church today. Christianity is not, nor ever was WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”). It has always been and ever will be WIJD: “What is Jesus doing now through me . . . through us?” Jesus lived by an indwelling Father. And in His resurrection, He has become a life-giving Spirit. What the Father was to Jesus, Jesus is to us. He is our indwelling Presence. Thus the mandate of all disciples is to live by Christ just as He lived by His Father.
We declare Jesus to be the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives them significance, reality, and meaning. Without Him, all things lose their value. Without Him, all things are but detached pieces floating around in space.
We declare that God’s mission in the world is less the business of fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives and more the relentless pursuit of finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ as sheer Gift. Only in the Messiah are the Medium and the Message one. To miss this messianic Oneness is to miss the point and the plot; indeed, it is to miss the meaning of life.
We declare that God doesn’t give us “things” – whether they be values, virtues, truths, or gifts. The Father gives us His Son – Jesus Christ – who is the embodiment of all spiritual values, virtues, truths, and gifts. Christ has been made unto us righteousness, wisdom, peace, power, grace, etc. He is the incarnation of all that God the Father gives.
We declare that Jesus the Christ is more than a cause. Jesus is Almighty God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, the Second Person of the Eternal Godhead. When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” they did not mean “Jesus is my core value.” They meant “Jesus is the Messiah-He is this world’s new Master-He is the physical embodiment and fullness of Eternal Deity.”
We declare “The Holy Bible” to be a library of inspired books without which we cannot follow the Messiah. The Written Word is a map that leads us to The Living Word. The Bible is our compass that points us to Christ, heaven’s North Star and Southern Cross.
We declare that only Jesus can transfix and transfigure the void at the heart of the church. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from His church. While Jesus is distinct from His Bride, He is not separate from her. She is in fact His very own body in the earth. God has chosen to vest all power, authority, and life in the living Christ. And God in Christ is only known fully in and through His church. God has no hands but our hands; no feet but our feet. If we are doing today what Jesus did then, we wouldn’t be doing what Jesus did in the past. We’d be doing what Jesus is doing today.
We declare the Christian life to be not an individual pursuit. It’s a corporate journey. Christ and His church are intimately joined. Knowing Christ and making Him known is not an individual prospect. Those who insist on flying life solo will be brought to earth, with a crash.
In a world which sings, “Oh, who is this Jesus?” and a church which sings, “Oh, to be like Jesus,” who will sing with lungs of leather, “Oh, how we love Jesus!”
Ask ye what great thing I know, that delights and stirs me so? What the high reward I win? Whose the name I glory in? Jesus Christ, the crucified.
This is that great thing I know; this delights and stirs me so: faith in him who died to save, His who triumphed o’er the grave: Jesus Christ, the crucified.
We, therefore, members of the body of Christ, assembled in virtual space and real space, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the moral integrity of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the holy Scriptures, solemnly publish and declare, that we return to the absolute preeminence and sovereignty of Jesus-the triumphant, victorious, resurrected, ascended, enthroned, glorified, Lord of the universe and God’s All in All.
And for the support of this Manifesto, with a firm reliance on God our Creator, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor in pursuit of our passion, our mission, and our very life – which is Christ Jesus, this world’s true Lord.
This is a summary of the new book, JESUS MANIFESTO: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, published by Thomas Nelson (June 1st, 2010). The book has been endorsed by Ed Young, Rowan Williams, Jack Hayford, Shane Claiborne, Ed Stetzer, Reggie McNeal, Mark Batterson, David Fitch, Dan Kimball, Margaret Feinberg, Mark Chironna, Francis Frangipane, Todd Hunter, Alan Hirsch, Chris Seay, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Anne Jackson, Steve Brown, Ken Ulmer, Tommy Barnett, Sally Morgenthaler, and others. Go to www.theJesusManifesto.com for more information.