Jesus is Our Constitution
In this Presidential election year some of the candidates are talking about God, Christianity, and religion. I don’t want to get into politics and religion here. But I want to address the common misconception that the Bible is like “God’s Constitution”.
The US Constitution is called a constitution because it constitutes the United States of America. More specifically, it delineates the branches of our government, how these branches relate to one another, and how citizens relate to government and to one another.
A few years ago, I saw an original copy of the US Constitution at the Nation Archives in Washington DC. It is a wonderful and powerful document. Yet it is only words on a big sheet of paper. Its awe and power only exists because “We the people” believe it.
There are two logical reasons for calling the Bible “God’s Constitution”. First, like the Constitution, many would say they believe the Bible. The second reason is that the Bible is seen as guidance for living because, similar to the US Constitution, it gives us guidance for how to relate to God and to one another.
I think it is more theologically correct to say that Jesus is the constitution of humanity. There are at lease five reasons for that assertion.
1) The Bible is one grand story of God’s re-making of humanity. The Jesus Story Book Bible says it simply and best: “Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules … The Bible certainly does have some rules in it….But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.”
2) Next January the new President will begin his or her term of office by swearing allegiance to the US Constitution. Since Jesus is both fully God and fully human, there is nothing above him to swear allegiance to. The traditional understanding of the Trinity is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three co-equal persons and are one God.
3) In the Bible, the words “believe” or “believer” always refer to Jesus.
4) John 1:1 refers to Jesus as THE Word that began in past eternity. “The Word” is more awesome and powerful than any words on a piece of paper or words in a book.
5) Jesus says “I am the way the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) There cannot be enough words on paper to express how to live life or describe all the truth about who God is.
If we are a believer, then I think Jesus is our constitution. What does that mean? I will illustrate with a story.
Last Friday I was driving to my first series of weekend care center services. The day was clear and the snow was pure white - a perfect winter scene. Then the perfection was spoiled by a couple of empty pop cans having been discarded along the road. And I thought, “Does the Constitution, the Bible or Jesus say anything to me about discarding trash in someone else’s space?”
The Constitution’s expression on this issue is only that municipalities cannot inflict “cruel and unusual punishments” on those who throw pop cans on someone else’s property.
The Bible, as a book that is “about God and what he has done”, takes me directly to Jesus. I know that Jesus died “for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) What Jesus has done for one, he has done for all. We are all equals at the foot of the Cross. If I believe that I am better than someone else, then I am free to toss my trash in their space. But believing in Jesus, the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am not better than other people. So I put my empty pop can in the recycle bin.
For the believer, Jesus constitutes every relationship - from how I relate to the people I like to how I relate to the people I don’t like. Lent, Good Friday, and Easter is a good time to reaffirm our belief in Jesus. Take advantage of the treasures of knowing Jesus as you worship in this season.
John Torgerson - 2/15/2016