GOING BEYOND THE BIBLE TO TALK TO MY SKEPTICAL FRIENDS ABOUT CHRIST 20 MAR 2014
This post is for those fb friends who don’t believe the Bible & don’t know Christ. Many people try to search for reality, for meaning, even for God. To search for such things is normal. And people come to different conclusions about these things. Rather than begin my discussion with my own conclusions & my trust in the Bible & faith in Christ, I will put these things on the shelf, and simply speak about the subject as one might talk about a person you had met.
WRONG QUESTIONS FOR SKEPTICS. Sometimes skeptics begin by asking questions no one can definitively answer from historical records & archeology; for instance, did the Bible stories about Jesus happen the way they are recorded in the 4 gospels. It’s possible that even if they did, and you had been there, you might still have seen things differently. Perhaps you might have seen only 10 baskets of bread & not 12 as one story records. We learn about Christ from the Bible, but if we set that aside, beyond that Biblical record we have little to verify the gospel accounts (granted the non-Biblical Gospel of Thomas is thought by some to have been written soon after his death). On the other hand, we do have tangible records in history of what various disciples of Christ did…for instance, Thomas in India, John at Ephesus, Paul throughout Asia, James in Jerusalem, etc. For instance, the churches Thomas began in India are still thriving there today. So we can get a glimpse of Christ, from what we know for sure from his disciples. Along this line is my own tangible experience of having intimately known a couple of men who very much reminded me of Christ’s personality. Knowing them was an invaluable experience because it showed me that such incredible personalities can & do exist. What these Christlike men, who I knew personally, did was give me a tangible example of what Christ did with those around him…that is he and they all had tremendous positive energy & love that transformed those around them. Christ’s disciples were inspired to call him “the way”. His example was what they wanted to copy. He was so fantastic, people saw God in him. Just as I admired these Christlike men I worked with, we are able to know some basics about Christ from how he inspired his disciples.
Christ was fearless. Across the board, he acted in unusual ways, and his disciples copied his unusual attitudes. For instance, Christ was raised in the environment of “Jews are the chosen people” and everyone else was an outsider & outcast like the handicapped (like Samaritans & lepers who were rejected). But Christ was beyond the little mindedness of most people. It is common for people, out of a deep fear-based survival mentality, to hate outsiders & love their own ingroup. His disciples record him wanting them to go to all peoples, and to love everyone. It had to take an incredible person to inspire such love in his disciples. Christ had the inner strength and the gifted ability to inspire people to be their best. He dignified and empowered those around him. Being fearless, he didn’t need to move in hate or hurt, but in an impartial deep love for everyone he met. So his disciples explained his life by applying the Bible’s prophecies of a servant who comes and serves humanity.
A DEFEATED RABBLE TRANSFORMED INTO A GROUP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. As might be expected, his disciples were shocked, discouraged & leaderless without him. Within a few years of his crucifixion, Paul was preaching & writing about Christ’s death. Peter & James were likewise mentioning his death. The public’s memories are not so short that you could make up something like Christ’s crucifixion. The fact that they openly talked about Christ’s death so soon after the Bible says it happened, is a sure sign that it did happen. Paul was himself an intellectual, and he staked his life on both the death & resurrection of Christ. Obviously, Paul had not seen Christ after his resurrection, he just heard about it from witnesses like Peter. But the sincerity of the witnesses led Paul (& others at the time) to have no doubt about what had happened. The followers of the way, had seen something so special in Christ’s life, that they were convinced that a good power (God) watches over our lives & assists us. When others began to try out the teachings of Christ, they too recognized that he had taught something very special, these were not ordinary teachings, but clearly something special from God. Out of the extraordinary events came men & women who were willing to lay down their lives (their careers, their fortunes, etc.) for the truths they had received. Christ was no ordinary man.
TRY IT—YOU’LL LIKE IT. OUR ATTITUDES INFLUENCE WHAT WE EXPERIENCE. Our attitudes towards something will determine how we experience it. If we like football we will enjoy watching a game. If we don’t like it, it will be perceived as near-torture to watch. When people have positive attitudes towards Christ & his teachings, they are amazed at how powerful his example & teachings are to help each of us & humanity in general. At times, I watch people reject Christ because they ask the wrong questions. When Christ spoke to Nicodemus about the need to be born again, he didn’t say that the new birth requires one to immediately swallow all the Biblical accounts and to have incredible faith, etc. What he told him, was that people needed to look at his life the same as people looked in Moses’s camp at the bronze serpent on a Tau (cross shaped pole). He was saying that he had come to divinely give a healing to people, and that they needed out of obedience to look at him. When you look at him, it is not a matter of how much faith you have, but that you are willing to look. Some will have more faith, some less. It is not your level of faith that saves you, but what he did on the cross—paid a debt for us. (And by the way, it took incredible faith & love to go there.) The point is that I see people ask the wrong questions, have the wrong idea of what Christ expects of people, and then they deprive themselves of the wonderful things that inspired Christ’s disciples to talk about him to the world. You can have Christ in your life, without the religious trappings that enslave people. He can to set the captives free. Think about it.
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