Some think of theology as being reserved for bookish Christians but not for everybody. To experience a vibrant spirituality, many people turn to prayer, community, and music. But theology is not on the list.
Such a view, however, saps our confidence, minimizes our salvation, stalls our growth. The only way to grow in the Christian life is to know God and his son Jesus Christ. And more relevant for this article: only a right Christology can heal your whole person, whether your desires, your will, or your pain. Put another way, if you desire wholeness and a satisfying spiritual life, then only the biblical Christ can give it to you.
What Is a Right Christology?
A right Christology is knowing Jesus as he reveals himself in the Bible and as the risen Christ through a spiritual encounter with him. Both of these knowings happen at the same time. When you prayerfully read Scripture, Christ abides with you. As Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16).
So Christology means knowing Christ, whether that means things about him or knowing him by experience.
But here’s the thing. You cannot say that you know Christ when you don’t know about him. Imagine telling someone that you love your spouse but you cannot recall your spouse’s hair colour, favourite food, or birthday. You’d show that you neither know about your spouse or know your spouse by experience because knowing someone intimately means observing and listening to that person.
It’s the same thing here. Knowing Christ means listening to him and observing him. It also means talking to him (prayer). So right Christology means seeing and speaking with Christ.
So How Does Right Christology Lead to Wholeness?
When you see Christ and experience Christ, then his life becomes yours; he unites to you. Who he is and what he does belongs to you.
An early Christian theologian by the name of Gregory of Nazianzus once said, “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.” He meant that Christ became like us to heal all of us. He meant that as Christ unites his divinity to his humanity, so also do we unite our humanity to divinity by faith.
Jesus says something similar in his prayer to the Father in John 17. He says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22). In other words, by participating in God’s glory, we become one with God and Christ.
How? One answer is that we come to see God’s glory by looking at the face of Christ as he is revealed in Scripture (2 Cor 3–4). I’ve written on this in more detail here, but the main point is this: when we are united to Christ by faith we are united to God; we can commune with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How Is This Practical?
So you might be wondering how what I’ve said so far is practical or even worthwhile to think about. Well, one way to answer that is to say: pragmatism is not a virtue; knowing God is a reward in of itself without any practical uptake. Yet knowing God is always practical. So there is a practical side to this.
Everything that Jesus did in the flesh he did vicariously on your behalf. Every desire he had, every feeling he had, every action that he did has happened for us and for our salvation. His entire life was vicarious, including his death and resurrection.
When Jesus prayed in the garden, he said, “Not my will, but yours be one” (Luke 22:42) even though he was sorrowful to death. Why did he do this? Certainly, it showed that he was truly human. Certainly, it showed that he is a sympathetic high priest who knows our weaknesses. And yet it also was done for our behalf. He handed over his will to the Father and perfected it by his obedience for us.
This means that every time you fail to will as you ought, Christ has already done this for you; he imputes his righteousness to you, including his willing obedience to the Father. When you fail, he’s already succeeded for you.
If you’ve ever felt that you failed to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect; if you’ve ever felt that you do not deserve salvation; if you’ve ever felt hated by God; if you’ve ever felt so weak that no strength could ever come from you, then you’ve likely judged things rightly.
But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ has lived an obedient life for you in every category: he loved like you ought to have loved. He thought like you ought to have thought; he willed like you ought to have willed; he did all like you ought to have done. And he did so in your place.
And of course, he also died in your place. He stood condemned and received the punishment that was due because of your sins. But he also rose in your place as the firstborn among many brethren, so that you will too follow him in newness of life and in the regeneration of all things.
He makes you whole because he has wholly saved you. He assumed every part of humanity and redeemed it completely. Every atom in your body has been redeemed by the man Jesus Christ. He is our mediator, our high priest, and our saviour. He has saved you wholly so that you are freed up to live confidently by the Spirit as you gaze at the beauty of the Lord in Scripture to know the Father.