“The Essence of the Master,” from the 1939 Christmas Service

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

During the Twenty Questions service of October 23 [2011], the topic of God in our church was discussed. The following was written by Minister Carl Olsen of our congregation for the Christmas service of 1939 and was entitled “The Essence of the Master.”

“Sir, we would see Jesus.” John 12:21. Like these Greeks of old, we too, would see Jesus, catch his essence, understand his teaching.

The ways to “see” Jesus–that is, enter into his very spirit–are historically three: salvation by grace, salvation by faith, salvation by character. Here are the great divisions of Christianity; the liturgical churches, the doctrinal churches, the liberal churches, distinguished by their emphasis on the church and its forms, or the creeds and doctrine or the character and conduct.

We Universalists are among those who subordinate forms and creeds to practical good works after the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus. In his life he said there were two, and only two, essentials in religion–to love God devotedly, and to show unfailing kindness and consideration of man. These two virtues he constantly advocated. These were the only tests he ever made of discipleship.

Why has the Christian world embroidered that simple teaching of Jesus out of all semblance to the original? It is easier to paint Jesus on canvas, or build him in stained glass than it is to become ourselves a likeness of him.

It is easier to profess a religion about Jesus, than a religion that is Jesus incarnate–the going about doing good, loving God with all being, befriending man in his need. We must not lose Christ of the living way!