Will the Real Christ follower please stand up!
I can remember the debate of who the real Jesus is. Groups like the Jesus Seminar wanted to feel better about their carnality, create a god in their own image, and feel better about themselves all the while creating doubts in the minds of unbelievers. This is done by slurring words and blurring facts. Most folks who listen to what these and others like them have to say don't read the Bible nor do they have any interest in searching out facts to see whether or not their conclusions are true. Many just rely on the History Channel’s presentation and believe it to be true.
Just a few days ago a person in the community we live in debated a fellow student concerning who the greatest person in history was. This individual took the position that Jesus was not the greatest figure in history. The person opposing Jesus won the debate. Now I don't know who was "defending" Jesus nor do I know the arguments that were made or not made but I do know that Jesus is the greatest person to ever live!
The person opposing Jesus asked my daughter several questions concerning Jesus, His birth, place of birth, His preaching, life, etc. The individual was very excited to say that they had "Won the debate against Jesus!" My daughter was crushed thinking she had fueled the fire and had somehow disappointed God because she gave information that somehow led to Jesus being defeated in a debate of whether He was the greatest or not.
Well that got me to thinking. The first thing I thought was, "Man, I want to debate this person!" "Let's see if the outcome is the same with me!" I know spiritual pride and all that. As I thought and prayed through it, I saw an opportunity, number one as a pastor and number two as a dad. For my daughter I want her to have a real conversation with people about just how great Jesus really is. You see my job as a pastor, and a dad, is to equip people to do the labor of God's kingdom. Teach them to engage our culture. Be real and genuine in our following Christ in everyday life, not doing it for them.
So, I anticipated some of the questions or objections I assumed were raised in the debate and shared them with my daughter. Here are a few. 1.) Jesus wasn't great because He didn't go anywhere. 2.) He didn't bring peace and 3.) He didn't enlighten the world. These are things I supposed were the arguments against Jesus being the greatest.
Some folks would look to Gandhi as the greatest man. He did all this wonderful, peace promoting work and lived a life for others to emulate, they might say. But the truth is Gandhi never brought peace, never changed the evil of men's hearts, never changed the culture or climate of his people nor could he, ever! Buddha is believed to enlighten people, bring peace and harmony with nature, and cause people to live lives worthy of eternal nirvana. But in reality nothing changed as a result of his life and death. Both of these individuals lived lives of aestheticism and died without any advancement in the causes for which they lived. They brought no hope, no peace, no life to those who would choose later to follow them.
Jesus on the other hand never travelled more than a hundred miles from His place of birth and literally changed the world! He never was broadcast on TV but His teaching transformed and continues to transform human hearts, as well as, culture, countries, and continents bringing peace, righteousness, and hope through a soul perfecting, sin forgiving, life transforming message of God’s amazing grace and never ending love and redemption in Christ Jesus. He never left the immediate area of His birth and has enlightened all men everywhere that they are in darkness, dead in sin and must trust Him to have light—the light of life.
Now the reason I am blogging. Christians must stand up for the truth of the gospel. The Bible says we must be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. This starts by knowing Jesus. The Bible says, "In your hearts set a part Jesus as Lord," (1Peter 3:15). It’s not just knowing about Him, it's knowing Him. Many believe, they accept the fact of who He is or that He was a real person or even that He is God, but they have never trusted Him as Lord. Belief isn't just acknowledging Him. The Bible says, "The devil believes and trembles with fear," (James 2:19). It is a belief, faith, trust that knows salvation is only in Him. Salvation is only provided through His work of redemption—His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross as payment to the Father for our sin. Trusting in Him, God declares us righteous—that is right with Him—and gives us the perfect righteousness of Christ, just as if we had lived the perfect, sinless life that He lived.
So, we take this message and simply share it, live it, and explain it to others as the Bible says, "With gentleness and respect," (1Peter 3:15). Gentleness toward others and being respectful of God.
Now here's the hard part of the blog. I talk with a lot of folks in our community and I see, in some cases, the hardness of sin and the hatred of God in them toward His people. Just went to a community function recently and saw a couple that I’ve never had a real conversation with. The feeling I get from them is "I hate you because of Who you stand for." Now I never had talked more than five words with them, but they make it known they have no interest in me nor the God I worship. It was like being in the "God's not Dead" movie, right here in our little town. Some folks hate religion because of experiences from their childhood. What they remember of Church is hypocrisy and mean spirited people. Others just don't see the "Power of God for salvation," being displayed in the lives of those who call themselves Christian. Let's be honest, for some so-called Christians, God must meet them on their terms and only when it is convenient for them. God doesn’t work this way. He saves us on his terms only and then our work is the work He has already prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10). Commitment is lacking in some and most scoffers see this lack of commitment as fuel to their belief that religion is a hoax and they will be just fine.
Our responsibility as Christians is to engage the people, not awkwardly but lovingly and genuinely with the gospel. Our knowing the truth, living the truth, and sharing the truth is the way for us to declare the truth of a God who loves, Who has provided the only way of salvation. So, Christian stand up!