Jesus' Stuff is Our Stuff
"Jesus's stuff and our stuff is the same stuff."
That statement by Pastor Tom Wright is in many ways the essence of his new book, "Christness: Jesus Stuff and Our Stuff is the Same Stuff." He sees the concept as revolutionary and one that will energize Christians.
Wright, the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo, is the former pastor at Methodist churches in Viola and Preemption, as well as the Baptist Church in Joy. He said the message preached most Sundays is that we are Christ like.
"There's something identical between me and Jesus. We miss the whole shouting match when we say Christ like" rather than Christness, he said.
Wright explained Jesus is not outside people, trying to get in, he is inside each of us, trying to get out. He said the difference is an important one in where Jesus is in relation to everyone and how that impacts them.
"My wife used to say, 'Tom, Jesus is over there and I'm over here and there's a big gap'," he said. "If you believe Jesus is over there your over here, every sermon will be about somebody else."
Wright, 74, was an investment banker for 33 years.
"Thirty-three years of selfishness," he said.
After getting a dream job as an investment counselor in Geneseo, he said he began to get interested in his customers as people, rather than a dollar signs, he said. A friend who was a minister suggested a change in career.
"All of a sudden, God put the fire out," Wright said of banking.
He and his wife, Luanne, decided to candidate for ministry in 2001. They put their house up for sale and sold it to the first person who looked at it. Events went from there in the period between May 2001 and July 2002.
"All of a sudden in July 2002, I was serving two churches in Mercer County, so the dominoes really fell," he said.
Wright and his wife became closer, rather than always going their separate ways, he said, as they ministered together.
An enthusiastic individual, Wright has a love of baseball and uses terms from the games in many of his statements. He described his current position as a semi-retired associate minister as, "I'm in the bullpen and I warm up when they tell you."
He began tape recording his sermons from the beginning. While he had no idea he would someday collect those sermons into his new book, he got the idea of taping sermons because of messages he heard other ministers preach.
"Sometimes the pastor would hit a home run" and when Wright would ask if the sermon was on tape, he would be frustrated to learn it wasn't.
"I was so disappointed. There was some absolutely fabulous sermons my pastor preached and no one recorded it."
Wright first heard of the concept of Christness when a minister was preaching.
"All of a sudden my heart got in my throat and my emotions went boom, boom, boom," he said.
He asked the pastor about it and the man had no recollection of even mentioning the term.
"My spirit had heard something incredibly important and responded to it," Wright said. "What I tell believers, if it hasn't happened already, it will. Your spirit will hear something and respond to it" in a similar manner.
He began reading to Bible and was startled to find numerous references to Christness. Wright cited one example, John 14:12 when Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father."
"It's right there," Wright said, his voice rising with excitement. "Christness isn't new age, it's old age. The scriptures have been there all along. … I began to see scripture that talked about Christness. I began to realize there are scriptures that are not understandable without Christness.
"I used to be intimidated by Jesus's commands. I think most Christians are … so they walk around them rather than go through them. Christ is about our capability, our capacity. We don't have to be intimidated.
"Where's the intimacy, where's the relationship" with Christ? Wright said. "If they understand their stuff and Jesus's stuff is the same stuff, all of a sudden they start walking in fullness to what the Bible portrays.
"I try to make the case that if people embrace their Christness, it's going to cause a revolution similar to when Copernicus discovered the Earth goes around the sun, rather than the sun going around the Earth. With no disrespect to our pastors, some of these concepts that are going on in our hearts, we haven't heard a sermon on," he said.
Wright talks in glowing terms of his time in the ministry, although he said he was discouraged from preaching about Christness.
"Most of the churches I've served have allowed me to be me and that's tremendously satisfying. … When I got into the pulpit, things clicked. You have no knowledge of what will happen until you get into the pulpit. The Holy Spirit used me when I got into the pulpit."
He even understands why he was asked not to talk about Christness in those churches.
"A pastor, if he's worth his salt, will be under the supervision of an authority," he said, adding that now that he is basically retired, he is free to speak about the topic.
"Believers have to use their Christness the way Jesus used his," Wright said. "But, we can do it."
"Christness: Jesus' Stuff and Our Stuff is the Same Stuff" is available in paperback and Kindle Edition on Amazon.