Tonight I had an important revelation, with the help of the brothers at my men’s Bible study. Gabe pointed out that the Christian life is not usually a “happier” life than a non-believer’s, and that we’re foolish if we try to share the Gospel by convincing people they will be more satisfied with Jesus in their lives. So I wondered aloud what benefit we can offer to those who don’t know the Lord, if knowing Jesus will likely make their lives more difficult through persecution, struggle, and sometimes even disdain. After some more discussion, I found the answer. We’re not salesmen, trying to convince people that they need what we’re selling. Rather, everyone has the need to know the Creator and to be loved by Him. God designed us that way. That need is more evident in some than in others, but everyone is searching. This search comes in a thousand forms; in the search for love, or purpose, or understanding, or healing. The search for success, or the search for knowledge. Everyone is born with the question. Our purpose is merely to point them toward the answer.
I learned this in a youth leadership conference hosted by Group Magazine, and I thought it was fascinating. In Britain, only 8% of people attend church weekly. Fewer than 10% of British children attend Sunday School. Compare that to the 45% of Americans who weekly attend church. Also of interest is that 95% of Americans say they believe in God. So why do we hear so much about people wanting to keep religion out of our courtrooms, our Pledge of Allegiance, our schools? Anybody have any thoughts on that?
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Sometimes, THERE ARE NO SECOND CHANCES.
The following is part of an e-mail I sent to my dear friend Mike Dziabiak (pronounced in a way that makes absolutely no sense). He had asked me whether I believe in Jesus’ divinity, and I felt that my response was worth posting. If this interests you, feel free to check out a longer writing of mine in a similar vein, Why I Believe.
Yes, I believe in Jesus’ (Y’shua’s) divinity. It makes sense to me that God would become human, so that we could have a God that can relate to us. Of course, if God can do anything, God can already relate to us, but it’s much easier for humans to accept and understand that when he does become human. Jesus’ death is something I’ve never quite understood, but I understand that God sacrificing for us is something very special, when most religions only require us to sacrifice for him. Plus, if Jesus did indeed die to defeat sin, however those cosmic laws work, then I think that’s amazingly powerful. I think “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” does a really good job of expressing that. If you haven’t seen that movie, you should. Aslan the lion offers himself to be killed instead of a human, because the deep magic demands a sacrifice (basically to Satan). But, as he explains, an even deeper magic says that if one without blame willingly lays down his life, the laws will be broken, and death will turn to life. I’m not saying that’s how it really works, but C.S. Lewis came up with a really cool fantasy-based parallel to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In regards to Jesus becoming human, it also helps to have a human role model to live up to, instead of just a bunch of faceless proverbs and teachings. My favorite stories in the Bible are those involving Jesus himself. There’s so much power in his actions, and in his teachings. Jesus’ teachings are entirely about forgiveness and strength and love. There’s no demands of us. He just gives us a model for living the way we were meant to live. And it’s pretty obvious to me that we’ll be happiest if we follow that model. It’s just that human flaws, like pride or jealousy or greed, get in our way of knowing what’s truly best for us.