On Sunday evening, as I was preparing to sign off for the day and simply retire for the evening, I received a phone call from one of my family friends. He was in town from another city and unusually, was in my area and wondering if he could pop by to say hi. I said sure, why not?
Moments later, we were sat in the living room, discussing business and the more superficial things of life. Small talk as some would call it. However, it all changed when I professed my faith in Christ by declaring I was a born-again Christian. He shrugged and I noted it in my mind. I didn’t know what to make of his outward discomfort but I thought not to focus on it.
We returned to small talk but it was clear that my declaration had changed the atmosphere. Someone once said that when Jesus enters a room, everything changes. There is hardly ever a lukewarm reaction towards Him. It’s either He evokes a response of love or one of disdain for what He really stands for.
With the seed of what I had said earlier firmly planted in my friend’s mind, he couldn’t shake off his discomfort after a while. He brought us right back to what I said earlier and I asked why. His answer started off what I can only describe as a real eye-opener for me. He said that he doesn’t consider himself to be a Christian because he doesn’t want to be put under any banner by man. In the scriptures, believers used to be called Followers of the Way or saints. The term ‘Christian’ was first used in Antioch, where the believers were so Christ-like that the people called them little Christs! His life was so evident through the conduct of these believers. That term has obviously been abused over the centuries, as men, under the umbrella of Christianity, have committed several atrocities out of the selfishness and evil of their own hearts. This does not make Christianity bad in my opinion. The problem is the people and not the Person of Christ, whose teachings are the opposite of what some of His so-called representatives display to the world around them.
The way I see it, the banner is not really what matters. After all, Christ referred to His Church as the glorious Bride. He also calls us His Body. Whether or not we choose to adopt the term Christian is not really the crux of the matter. The issue is Who we have placed are faith in and submitted our lives to. This was where my conversation with the young man hit a roadblock. Whilst I was prepared to accept his refusal to adopt the banner ‘Christian’, I had an issue when he declared that he did not accept Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
Our discussions took a more passionate tone at this point. He was clearly convicted about the fact that the bible may be filled with human errors that resulted in Jesus taking a position of Mediator between God and man that never was His to take in the first place. He believes that Christianity is simply organised religion designed to control people and the exclusivity that it brings is the more proof that the Jesus part of the equation was probably added by man. He argued very powerfully and logically from different angles. It was clear that there was no way I could talk him out of this one. He said he believes in God the Father and His Spirit but that saying Jesus is the only way to God is wrong. He also said that limiting God to the 66 books of the bible is an insult to Him.
My heart was broken for this friend of mine because he told me he once believed in Jesus and preached His good news. I asked why he had such a strong change of heart and he described it as progressive revelation. He argued that people like Noah, Moses and David related directly with God without the need of Jesus so why do we need Him now? He also said that it was difficult for him to accept that a loving God would banish people to hell simply because they did not put their faith in Christ’s work on the cross or acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives.
We live in times when there are very strong false doctrines that resemble the truth are floating around. They seem true enough by giving Jesus a place of respect and honour but they fall wide of the mark described by the scriptures. Jesus was not just a good teacher or moral revolutionary. He was the Son of God whose sinless life was the only sacrifice that could bridge the gap back to a Holy God. There is simply no escaping Him!
In Genesis, He was the promised Seed that was going to crush the head of the serpent. Noah’s Ark was a shadow of the Christ to come. In Exodus, Jesus was the spotless passover lamb that was slaughtered to free the Israelites from Egypt. In Numbers, Moses raised up a bronze serpent to heal those who would look up at it. Likewise, the cross represents the defeat of the ancient serpent and when we look to it, we are saved. The prophet Balaam looked thousands of years into the future and saw the coming Christ. Joseph’s life mirrored the sufferings, rejection and glory of Christ’s life. Abraham’s intention to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, was a shadow of God’s sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus. David spoke about a King whose body would never be allowed to see corruption through death. He prophesied the very words that Jesus spoke on the cross thousands of years later. Numerous prophets predicted with absolute accuracy when, how and where the Messiah would be born, hundreds of years before it happened. His followers must have been crazy to follow a lie to the point of death. All of them were martyred except John. It only makes sense that they truly believed Christ rose from the dead and was indeed the Messiah. What about a Jewish zealot who went from persecuting the Church to being one of Christ’s most faithful servants? It is either Paul was insane or he really encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. What about Jesus’ predictions about the last days? How eerily accurate have they been? It is simply impossible to take Christ out of the equation. Even muslims regard Him as a great prophet. Many other religions regard him as an enlightened teacher. No one has been able to change the world the way Christ did in only three physical years on the earth. He continues to do so today by His Spirit.
The more the world tries to avoid Christ, the more of a stumbling block He becomes. 1 Corinthians 1:23 says, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. This was written by Paul, a man who once saw Christ as a stumbling block. A revelation of the risen Christ transformed his viewpoint and he saw Christ as his rock.
My objective is not to ridicule or judge anyone but I do have a duty as a believer of Christ to share my views. I won’t impose them on anyone but I will certainly pray for unbelievers to see the light of the gospel. We are all called to the same service in the Lord because He desires that none should perish.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – Paul, a former persecutor of the faith (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- Jesus Christ is Everything (justificationbygrace.com)
- Jesus is the Only Way (writeforacause.org)
- A Simple Rule to Avoid a Christ-less Christianity (christcenteredteaching.wordpress.com)
- Tozer Devotional-Inescapable Choices (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
- To Live is Christ (loopyloo305.com)