Shock! Horror! Gasp! What kind of pastor would say such a thing. It’s not what you think. In my opinion, the way some Christians speak of the Saviour comes across overly casual and familiar – Jesus this, Jesus that, introducing Jesus, meeting with Jesus, talking to Jesus, we are the hands and feet of Jesus. I have heard conversion described as falling in love with Jesus. There are Christians who rarely if ever speak of the Son of God, God the Son, Christ Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ the Lord, etc. I am not suggesting that to only use the name of Jesus is sinful, I am suggesting the manner in which it is used and the frequency with which it is used can be unhelpful. Four points to reflect upon –
Christ in the scriptures. The Bible does refer to Jesus without reference to Lord or Christ (particularly in the gospels). Therefore, it is not wrong for us to do the same. There is, however, something to bear in mind. We do not relate to Him as people did during the days of His earthly ministry. He now dwells in the glory of heaven. The apostle John knew Him face to face, yet when Christ appeared on the island of Patmos in His glory, John fell down before Him as one dead. There was no g’day Jesus and no high fives. It is in the epistles that we especially see Jesus addressed as Lord and Christ – after His ascension and glorification. We should therefore relate to Him as the glorious Son of God, not merely as Jesus the carpenter.
Vain repetition. In the Sermon on the Mount we are warned about vain repetition in prayer. I am sure we have all heard it and maybe we are guilty ourselves. I would contend that the name Jesus can be used the same way. For some Christians it seems to be in loop mode, almost like a scared mantra. Vain repetition not only applies to prayer, but also to sermons, writing, and conversations.
God’s name is sacred. Phil 2:9-11, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” He has been given the highest name of all – Jesus – meaning God saves. But notice the outcome – that every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him to be LORD and CHRIST. So sacred is God’s name under the Old Covenant (YHWH), it is unpronounceable without the addition of vowels. We are no longer under the Old Covenant, but the sense of reverence should still be obvious when we speak about our Saviour.
A Trinitarian perspective. It is possible to focus upon Christ in such a way it’s as though He alone is God. The Father and the Spirit are nowhere to be found. Let us remember, all three were involved in creation. All three are involved in salvation. We are baptized into the name of all three. We worship all three. While we can legitimately address Christ in our prayers, the basic formula is to pray to the Father through the Son by the enabling of the Spirit. The Christian faith is a Christ focused faith (Col 1:18), nevertheless, a lopsided emphasis on the second person may unwittingly foster a heretical outlook known as modalism. We must not lose sight of the fact that Christ is one member of the triune God and all three are to occupy our thinking.
In all things He is to have the pre-eminence, but not in a way that breeds overfamiliarity, complacency, and potential error. A little less Jesus and more Son of God, Christ, Lord, and more Trinitarian language.