I know this post is a tad on the lengthy side but it’s been on my mind and in my dreams for a number of days now and I just have to put it all down in one post, so I’m trusting that you will bear with me.
There was a time when I thought that Jesus didn’t really matter. He was just a person in history that was associated with believing in God but that wasn’t really my thing. I didn’t need all the negative connotations that were associated with “religion”. I didn’t need the hypocrisy that I sometimes saw within the “church”. If some other people choose to live like that, that was fine for them, but it wasn’t for me.
Instead I followed the general hype of worldly wisdom.
You know, how looking out for number one was pretty important. If you didn’t, nobody else would. Caring could extend to family and friends. The fact that we’re here, on this planet, was in and of itself, nothing to get excited about. Humanity had just kind of happened, all by itself and we are what we are. There didn’t appear to be any real reason behind it all, no defined purpose, no real accountability. Some people were good and some, not so good, to varying degrees, but in essence, I was with the “good” side. Sure, I had made mistakes and could be selfish but no one is perfect. You do the best you can, love those you can and ignore those who you couldn’t. You invest your time and effort in raising a family, earning a living, being recognized for your talents and perhaps accumulate some wealth, pass on some wisdom to your children, retire, enjoy some well earned relaxation with your wife and family and when your time was up you die, that’s it, lights out, it’s all over.
In my early twenties, that was my game plan, and it seemed to be a valid plan for a while.
But I also came to understand relatively quickly that we all aren’t dealt the same cards. Some have a built in support system, some parents are good mentors and some, not so much. Some people have more intelligence than others. Some have a greater determination to achieve a specific goal that others. Some are dealt health related issues on top of the other variables. Some come from broken homes with all the complications that can produce, or some deal with abandonment and foster or adoptive parents. Some have to learn very quickly to deal with mental and physical abuse and some have to learn to live with fear at a very early age. But there’s more, there is abject poverty, educational opportunities and inequalities, drugs (alcohol and narcotics), bullying and a host of other peer and socially related pressures and influences such as gangs and being accepted with the “in” crowd or the lessor accepted imposed groupings of society. That phrase,”living the dream”, is not the same dream for everyone, for some, it involves learning to survival or cope with difficult extremes, at a very early age.
Somewhere in this maze of variables, one comes to learn or estimate, where one fits into the big scheme of things, and being young, one also has a tendency to be a tad on the “overly optimistic” side when it comes to our own capabilities. When I say “overly optimistic” I mean that when we’re young, some of us have a tendency to underestimate our own deficiencies. We start out thinking that we’re smarter than we actually are, more talented than we actually are and more knowledgeable than we actually are.
In my early twenties I had an awful lot to learn. What is scary is that the older I get, the more I realize how little I truly know. I’ll be 75 next month, so you can just imagine how much I’ve learned how little I know.
But reality has a way of setting in, in varying stages of progression or degrees and most of us sooner or later come to understand or appreciate that what we thought we knew or understood about a lot of different things, including ourselves, may not necessarily be so.
We know the universe came into being from nothing but we don’t know why.
We know that our singular planet is exceedingly rare.
We know that life began to appear on our planet but we don’t know how.
We know that the “simple cell” is far from or anything but simple.
We know that DNA contains intelligent code but we don’t know how it got there.
We now know that virtually everything we look at in biology is much more complex than we ever imagined.
And we come to know that as individual human beings, in spite of our good intentions, we are much more prone to excuse our selfish behaviour when it is justified by self centred objectives.
Sure, we have theories, but we still don’t have answers for the really big questions. We still don’t know how all matter, energy and time within our universe came about from nothing. We still can’t produce or explain how self replicating life came about from non-living matter. Nor can we see outside of our own universe. And try as we might, using logic that says even though it looks like it was designed, it really all must have happened by chance because any other answer is unacceptable, is no answer at all.
From my perspective, there really are only two choices of logic to be looked at when push comes to shove. Either everything we see and everything we are, was created by something or someone much more intelligent than us or there is no reason, no purpose, no intelligence anywhere, greater than our own and humanity on planet earth just got really lucky.
And if there is no reason, no purpose or no intelligence greater than us, then there also is no accountability, no objective right and wrong, because, in the end, with no reason or purpose, all reality is subjective. Conversely, if there is a reason, if there is a purpose and if there is an intelligence greater than us, then it stands to reason that there may indeed be accountability involved, because reason, purpose and a greater intelligence than our own can imply accountability, and it can change ones perception of reality from being subjective, to being objective, in the broader scheme of things.
I only began to see this when I honestly looked to Jesus. There is a big difference between looking at what Jesus said and did and taking Him to heart. Jesus said that without Him we could do nothing and He meant it.
The problem being that with believing in God and not believing in God, and even more specifically, coming under the Lordship of Jesus, there are many who do not wish to be accountable to anything or anyone. Not when it comes to true morality, not when it comes to true justice and not when it comes to true mercy. Human history is full of instances where some have obtained power and imposed their will or perception of reality, on others. The question for me, still remained, is there ultimate truth, which remains truth, whether you believe in it or not?
Ultimately, if you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, everything changes, it literally has to. Either you accept who He is and react accordingly or you don’t. Faith, trust and obedience is not optional. That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t grow in each of these areas over time but the commitment to enter into each of these areas needs to be there.
Imagine if you will, that there is a Creator that affords us the opportunity to know Him, while maintaining our own free will. In other words, ultimately the choice of moving towards Him or away from Him is ours. Imagine that an objective of the Creator is to reveal of Himself to His creation, progressively, so that at the right time and the right place in history, His ultimate reason, purpose and objective will be revealed and accomplished. I acknowledge that what follows is condensed and simplified but once again, please bear with me.
In the beginning of recorded history we see clear indications that many civilizations adhered to the belief in multiple gods (Polytheism). Then, with Abraham and the birth of the nation of Israel, we see a major switch from belief in multiple gods to belief in a singular God (Monotheism). This transition is recorded in the Old Testament of our Bible and it went against the prevailing worldview of those ancient times. But there was more. In addition to the switch to a singular God concept came personal revelation where God showed humanity the difference between Himself and us. His holiness versus our unholiness became a necessary realization, and this realization needed to be understood by all of God’s creation, humanity . That realization being, that He is different from us and we are different from Him. This was exemplified through Israel as a nation, with the introduction of The Law, the Tabernacle, the Priesthood, the Prophets, the sacrifices and the Temples. And most importantly, woven within all of these examples, came the promise of a coming Redeemer, a Messiah, a chosen one, who would do for us what we in ourselves could never do, namely, perfectly follow the Law or be holy like God is holy. Our perception of “being good” is very limited because our standard is set much lower than God’s. This is not always an easy concept to comprehend and Jesus had much to say about this very reality.
Many details about the Messiah and His arrival, where given in the Old Testament prior to His actual birth, including why, when, where and by whom He would arrive. And then, as foretold, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah is born and at a time chosen by God, Jesus begins His ministry.
Jesus personified His Father, as the Son of God. The words that He spoke, the miracles He performed and the work that He came to accomplish, as willed by God the Father, were all accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
God the Father sent us His Son so that we might be one with God, our Creator, holy as He is holy, through the accomplished work of His Son, for us, on the cross. And His resurrection is the promise of our resurrection. Jesus is the witness of God’s love and to reject Jesus is to reject God’s love. It’s really as simple as that. But we’re not talking about lip service, where we give our mental concurrence and then carry on with our lives as though nothing has happened. We’re talking about starting a new life, with God’s Holy Spirit, living in us, in the here and now. It’s a commitment and without that commitment, the reality of Jesus living in us is not realized.
Many know of Jesus but do not know Him. Knowing of Him comes by reading, knowing Him comes by walking with Him daily.
If you’ve never taken the time to read what Jesus said, you should.
If you’ve never taken the time to read what Jesus did, you should.
If you’ve never taken the time to read how the Christian church began, you should.
It’s all available between the covers of the Holy Bible.
The nation of Israel is a fact of history.
The person of Jesus is a fact of history.
The Christian Church is a fact of history.
There is no person in the history of the world that is more well known or had a bigger influence on humanity than Jesus, ever.
Many of the most intelligent minds of the world have examined the evidence for and testimony of Jesus and the early Christian church and have become believers, even to this very day.
Conversely, many of the most intelligent minds of the world have rejected Jesus as being who He said He was and is, even to this very day, in spite of the evidence and the testimony of Jesus and the early Christian church.
In my mind this proves but one thing. It is not that the evidence or testimony of Jesus is insufficient to convince intelligent minds but rather that the information and the experience of knowing Jesus is rejected by some because there is an inherent desire not to believe, not to become accountable. Lack of sufficient evidence is not the reason for disbelief because if it were, there would be no large accumulative number of intelligent minds that have believed in Christ, throughout history, even to this very day, but such is not the case. And just so you know, I am NOT including myself as one of those “intelligent” minds.
Many who reject Jesus have never read what Jesus said. Why?
Is it because they don’t want to really know what He said?
Many who reject Jesus have never read what Jesus did. Why?
Is it because they don’t want to really know what He did?
Many who reject Jesus have never scrutinized His Resurrection. Why?
Is it because they don’t want to really entertain the idea that Jesus actually did rise from the dead and it’s ramifications?
There’s not one other religious leader of any religion that ever rose from the dead after three days. Not one. Ever. That kind of puts Jesus into a league of His own doesn’t it?
Why would God our Heavenly Father select this authentication of authenticity for His Son? Because no one but God, the Creator of all life, could do this. No one. Only God, the Creator of life, can restore life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God the Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s iron clad proof of His Son’s divinity.
And how important was the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Apostles and the early Christian Church? Let’s let the Apostle Paul answer that:
The Apostles, including Paul, saw the risen Lord Jesus Christ. No if’s, and’s or but’s here. Over a period of 40 days Jesus appeared to them multiple times. And they saw Him ascend into heaven at the end of the 40 days. They knew exactly what it authenticated. With the exception of the Apostle John, they all gave their lives because of this truth that they proclaimed. And as history records, the early Christian Church turned the then known world upside down.
This isn’t a theory. We have the eye witness testimony of the Apostles. This is about as real as it gets. Couple this with the history of Israel in the Bible. Add in all the foretelling of the coming Messiah. The realities of the Tabernacle and the Temples, the Law, the Prophets, the Priesthood, the sacrifices and God’s holiness. Plus the birth and ministry of Jesus, what He said and what He did. And the Epistles of the New Testament plus the revelation of Jesus Christ in Revelation. The testimony of the scriptures is consistent throughout.
You will always find those who don’t believe, who won’t believe. But it doesn’t stop the truth from being the truth. It doesn’t matter what colour you are, whether you’re young or old, rich or poor or what you’ve done or what you’ve been through, God’s love is extended to all who will have faith in and trust in His Son, Jesus the Christ. He is the sacrifice for our unholiness, He is the Redeemer who brings us back into union with our Creator Father God.
The greatest reality one can come to realize in this life we have been given is that Jesus lives today and all who put their faith and trust in Him are saved from what we were to what we are, can and will be in Him.
And no, nothing in this universe happened by sheer chance, with God there is always His purpose and His purpose will be accomplished. Whether we become part of that purpose depends upon our decision and commitment to Christ. That is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.
This post has been in my thoughts and dreams for over a week and this is my testimony.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!