It Just Might be True

run-awayMany people run from God and vehemently deny His existence. His presence terrifies them. It should. They have seriously offended the High King of heaven. They cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.

However, there’s something vitally important and absurdly wonderful that God-avoiders need to know. The Supreme Judge did the unthinkable to fix the huge mess we are in. His Son paid the death penalty of His rebel creatures’ misdeeds, shedding His own blood on a cross to bring them back into His grace and favor. And He has sent out a notice, called the gospel, that He wants to welcome them back, forgive them, adopt them into His family, and invite them into His eternal banquet!

It’s either the craziest thing that’s ever been heard, or the best news ever broken on Planet Earth.

God-deniers need to consider the fascinating possibility that it might be true.

–J. O. Schulz

The Man Who Made the World

jesus4[The Gospel] is nothing less than the loud assertion that this mysterious maker of the world has visited his world in person. It declares that really and even recently, or right in the middle of historic times, there did walk into the world this original invisible being; about whom the thinkers make theories and the mythologists hand down myths; the Man Who Made the World. That such a higher personality exists behind all things had indeed always been implied by all the best thinkers, as well as by all the most beautiful legends. But nothing of this sort had ever been implied in any of them . . . The most that any religious prophet had said was that he was the true servant of such a being. The most that any visionary had ever said was that men might catch glimpses of the glory of that spiritual being; or much more often of lesser spiritual beings. The most that any primitive myth had even suggested was that the Creator was present at the Creation. But that the Creator was present . . . and talked with tax-collectors and government officials in the detailed daily life of the Roman Empire, and that this fact continued to be firmly asserted by the whole of that great civilisation for more than a thousand years– that is something utterly unlike anything else in nature. It is the one great startling statement that man has made since he spoke his first articulate word . . . It would be easy to concentrate on it as a case of isolated insanity; but it makes nothing but dust and nonsense of comparative religion.

-G. K. Chesterton,
The Everlasting Man

Leaving the receiver of the hook

 

Phone off hookTo evade the Son of Man, to look the other way, to pretend you haven’t noticed, to become suddenly absorbed in something on the other side of the street, to leave the receiver off the telephone because it might be He who was ringing up, to leave unopened certain letters in a strange handwriting because they might be from Him — this is a different matter. You may not be certain yet whether you ought to be a Christian; but you do know you ought to be a Man, not an ostrich, hiding its head in the sand.

–C. S. Lewis

Here everything is extraordinary

napoleon1Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself…..I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither in history, nor humanity, not the ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or explain. Here everything is extraordinary.

–Napoleon Bonaparte

The most sweeping historical revolution in the world

philip-yanceyI came across the writings of René Girard, a French philosopher and anthropologist whose brilliant career culminated in a position at Stanford University. Girard became fascinated with the fact that in modern times a “marginalized” person assumes a moral authority . . . Girard noted that a cavalcade of liberation movements—abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, animal rights, gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, human rights—had gathered speed in the 20th century.

The trend mystified Girard because he found nothing comparable in his reading of ancient literature. Victors, not the marginalized, wrote history, and the myths from Babylon, Greece, and elsewhere celebrated strong heroes, not pitiable victims. In his further research, Girard traced the phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus. It struck Girard that Jesus’ story cuts against the grain of every heroic story from its time. Indeed, Jesus chose poverty and disgrace, spent his infancy as a refugee, lived in a minority race under a harsh regime, and died as a prisoner. From the very beginning Jesus took the side of the underdog: the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the “marginalized.” His crucifixion, Girard concluded, introduced a new plot to history: the victim becomes the hero by being a victim. To the consternation of his secular colleagues, Girard converted to Christianity.

When Jesus died as an innocent victim, it introduced what one of Girard’s disciples has called “the most sweeping historical revolution in the world, namely, the emergence of an empathy for victims.” Today the victim occupies the moral high ground everywhere in the Western world: consider how the media portray the plight of AIDS orphans in Africa or Tibetan refugees or uprooted Palestinians. Girard contends that Jesus’ life and death brought forth a new stream in history, one that undermines injustice. It may take centuries for that stream to erode a hard bank of oppression, as it did with slavery, but the stream of liberation flows on.

Sometimes Jesus followers join the stream, and sometimes they stand on the bank and watch. Yet over time the gospel works its liberating effect. (You can see the contrast clearly in societies that have experienced little Christian influence.) Women, minorities, the disabled, human rights activists—all these draw their moral force from the power of the gospel unleashed at the cross, when God took the side of the victim. In a great irony, the “politically correct” movement defending these rights often positions itself as an enemy of Christianity, when in fact the gospel has contributed the very underpinnings that make possible such a movement. And those who condemn the church for its episodes of violence, slavery, sexism, and racism do so by gospel principles. The gospel continues to leaven a culture even when the church takes the wrong side on an issue.

-Philip Yancey,
What Good is God

A God like none other

Brennan ManningThis is the God of the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us,
sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin, He learned to walk,
stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night,
was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross
and died whispering forgiveness on us all.

–Brennan Manning,
Ragamuffin Gospel

The only hope for Africa

ravi-zacharias-3-copyIronically, in a powerful piece published some years ago in his very popular column in England, self-proclaimed atheist Matthew Parris said that after he had revisited Malawi where he had grown up, he was convinced against his ideological commitment to atheism that what Africa needs is not more aid but the gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone changes hearts. He admitted to speaking with a schizoid struggle, yet he strongly believed that the only hope for Africa was the Evangel: the gospel of Jesus Christ. He ended his article in The Times of December 27, 2008, “Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.” That, from an atheist, is profoundly powerful.  

–Ravi Zacharias

No marks of fiction

1337544791Jewish authors would never have invented either that style nor that morality; and the Gospel has marks of truth so great, so striking, so utterly inimitable, that the invention of it would be more astonishing than the hero… Shall we suppose that the evangelical history is a mere fiction? Indeed it bears no marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which no one presumes to doubt, is not so well attested to as that of Jesus Christ.

— Jean Jacques Rousseau