Lean in close and be astounded with me. Because here is what I’m discovering: arguing is not always the right way to win people over.
I know, right? The idea that I can’t change someone’s mind by heaving brilliant statement after brilliant statement in their face is baffling to me.
I’m learning that this is especially true in the realm of Christianity.
I used to think that if I could just memorize Mere Christianity, I’d be prepared to win anyone’s heart for God’s kingdom.
Turns out you have to live Christ not just pitch Him.
Turns out Jesus asked us to be His witness, not His lawyer.
We cannot merely talk about Christ – we must bring Him. He must be a living vital reality – closer than breathing and nearer than hands and feet. We must be “God-bearers”. ~ E. Stanley Jones, American writer and missionary to India in the early-mid 1900’s
We must live a life that spills over with Jesus’ love. A life that, when encountered by anyone else, makes it abundantly clear that God is love.
Because the Christ of contention is unable to change hearts, but “the Christ of experience…is almost irresistible”.
I find it tempting to feel better about myself at the expense of judging others, especially in the privacy of my own mind.
It is easy to watch the vitriol that happens on the internet and decide they need to do better at seeing the image of Jesus in those they are lambasting.
It is effortless to look at the women gathered in impenetrable circles at church and think that if they saw Jesus in those around them, they would be more inclusive.
It is troublesome to aim the same spotlight at myself.
Yet I must.
If I am to live in Jesus who is the Truth, if I am to allow the Spirit to mold me into someone who looks like Him, I must be honest with myself. I must step into the Light that allows no shadows to remain.
Here is the truth.
When I erupt into hissing rage at my children, it is Jesus’ face that flinches back.
When I spit a sideways look and sigh at my husband, it is Jesus’ eyes that fill with hurt.
When I impatiently wrench my car into the path of the elderly driver beside me, it is Jesus’ mouth that compresses in fear.
How can I do this?
How can I treat the One who made me as though He were dirt under my feet?
How can I regard the One who gave me new life as nothing more than an irritation?
I forget to see those around me as an image of the One to whom I owe everything.
Imago Dei. The doctrine of the image of God.
This is the doctrine that says if every human is created in the image of God, then how we treat others is a reflection of how we truly feel about God.
Jesus, as He did most for most laws, raised this to a higher level. Jesus said that when we do something to another person, we are not just reflecting our view of Him, we are actually doing that action to Him.
Whatever I do to those in my little world I am doing to Jesus.
It is a frightening thought.
Perhaps I need to be frightened. Perhaps it would help me to remember.
To remember that the way I treat the people in my world is the way I treat Christ.
Lord, have mercy. Help me to remember.
Into Thy hands. Only You can help me.
Thee I adore. I trust that You will, indeed, help me to remember.
They explained it away. They looked for the rain that must come since it was thundering, or even went so far as to call it an angel.
Anything but the voice of God.
Some things are too astounding, too wondrous for our hearts to accept.
The resurrection is one of those things.
The resurrection is anything but dull. The story of God becoming man, being defeated by man, and rising again to defeat death is the most heroic tale of all.
That man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. ~ Dorothy Sayers
But it is hard to accept that we cannot save ourselves. It is humiliating to acknowledge that there is absolutely no way we can cleanse our own hearts. It is a bitter and unendurable truth that we are hopelessly imprisoned in our shadows and darkness.
The resurrection throws its light over our darkness in such a daring, audacious way that our helplessness is impossible to ignore.
So we choose to explain away the resurrection or else we attempt to dull its edges so that we cannot be cut.
We choose to explain it away as Jesus’ teachings becoming immortal in the manner of Shakespeare, or as the spirit of Jesus living on in us in the manner of Socrates, or as simply a manner of speaking in the symbolism of the human spirit conquering all.
Yet the resurrection refuses to be explained away.
You can call it nonsense or you can call it lies, but you cannot call it poetry.
You can deny the resurrection and live mired in the fear of inexorable death or you can believe the resurrection and allow it to bring you hopeful life in the now, but you cannot claim to believe in the resurrection and continue on in your darkness and dread.
The remarkable thing about it is that the real truth of the resurrection seems to be too strong for us, because it will not suffer itself to be hidden or concealed in these harmless clothes. ~ Karl Barth
Resurrection always bursts forth, rising up and shouting, “Do you truly believe that the only reason Jesus came, suffered, and died was to bring you empty comfort in the middle of the reality of life?”
No. Unequivocally no. The truth of the resurrection gives us certainty of our outcome. The truth of the resurrection gives us perfect assurance that death is, indeed, defeated and that we are, indeed, able to be presented before God pure and holy.
The truth of the resurrection blazes forth and tells us that everything has changed.