I have been reminded in recent days…
What is common to us as Christians is radical to those on the outside looking in.
I have been reminded of this truth in recent days. The secularization of our USAmerica has made the basic tenants of the Christian message a foreign (and to some a hostile) language.
As a people who take the words of Christ seriously and who take his Great Commission seriously, we must always be re-introducing the world to the message of Christ. But that message will not always be embraced. Christianity has enjoyed extraordinary cultural privilege in our nation’s history. So much so that we became spoiled I think. We even became jaded into thinking it was supposed to be this way, and that anything other than a warm cultural embrace of who we are and what we preach was simply unthinkable. But such is no longer the case.
Very simple and easy things that we, as Christians, take for granted are not only misunderstood but seen as fringe, strange, and even “bad” for society.
- The Bible is the authority for the Christian and instructs in a way of living that is beneficial for all people in all times in all places.
- Jesus really was born of a virgin.
- Jesus was God in the flesh.
- Jesus died on a cross and was buried.
- Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
- Jesus ascended to heaven where he now resides.
- Jesus will return to earth in physical form.
- Jesus is the only path to eternal life.
- Jesus accomplished this to pay the price of sin for all humanity, but this is realized by all those who accept him.
- Surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior means we have been bought with a price. We are no longer our own.
- The Christian lives to fulfill the will of God on earth.
These very straightforward statements define (at least in part) orthodox Christianity. But not everyone is ready to embrace these statements, which is fine. We all have freewill and God will force Himself on no one.
The decisions we make during this life have eternal consequences.
In other words, choices matter. For those who say “No” to Jesus and thus “No” to God; who say, “Thank you very much, but no thanks. I think I will do just fine without God,” in the end will get exactly what they have asked for. An eternity separated from God. Christians call this hell. And that, perhaps, is the most offensive message of all to those who seek their own path. “How could an all loving God send billions of people to hell?” But that’s the rub isn’t it? In a very real sense, God doesn’t send anyone to hell. He simply gives them what they ask for.
There are those who reject this faith casually, without much thought.
There are others who seek earnestly and simply decide following Jesus is too big of an “ask.” Others still will rail against this faith and blaspheme and decry it. They will marginalize and seek the destruction (either in character or in some places physically) of those who preach it. But there are some. A “few” the Bible tells us, who will surrender to this faith. And in so doing discover what it truly means to be alive.