Archive for March, 2016

Jesus sword Mathew 10:34The atheist who posted this graphic online might be disappointed to find out that when I saw it, I felt flushed with gladness.

I love opportunities to reveal the truth about what Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Divine Son of God) was – and is – all about.

The “verse” referred to here is from one of the original source documents of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Not only is it dead-on accurate, it’s NOT, as the atheist supposes a Christian declaring, out of context.

But exactly what is that context?

I get the feeling the atheist believes it means Jesus came to commit violence, start wars, fuel the fires of ugly tribalism – you know, all the unpleasant deeds carried out by certain charismatic leaders (read: Osama Bin Laden).

But anyone who knows anything about the original source documents of His life will admit that nowhere does Jesus start or participate in wars. Nowhere does He kill even one person and nowhere does He even injure anyone slightly.

That’s right, not even tripping anyone (and goodness knows, there were a lot of people who intensely disliked Jesus and probably deserved to be tripped). In fact, there isn’t a single word in the original source documents about Jesus even touching a sword.

There is, however, a scene where one of Jesus’ followers cuts off the ear of a Roman soldier who was part of a nighttime posse that came to arrest Jesus on false charges. What did Jesus do? He healed the guy’s ear.

OK, so the whole atheist premise of this graphic is false.

But here’s what’s true: deciding to follow Jesus often does NOT bring peace – not at first. And following Jesus often divides, just like a sword divides.

Here’s the simplest example: when I decided to follow Jesus in 2002, it divided me from my biological family – none of whom follow Jesus.

And at the time, I felt anything but peace because they didn’t (and still don’t) understand what I’ve done and why. In fact, they don’t really want to know, because our culture tells them to never think about anything related to faith.

Jesus knew – and knows – that His way is NOT the way of the world.  Lose your life to gain it? Love your enemies and pray for them? Follow Jesus and get eternal life in Heaven?

All these concepts are poison to our culture, which insists that:

  • Enemies should be hated and trampled
  • The key to life is gaining possessions, power and multiple sexual partners
  • Wondering what happens to us when we die is stupid.

But maybe you’re at the stage of life where the trophies our culture offers seem…empty. Pointless. If that’s the case, then the way of Jesus is worth a serious investigation. Even if it divides you from family and friends.

Interested? Then post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Blind faith, Frank's Cottage, faithFar from being upset or offended, when I read this graphic (helpfully posted in an Internet atheist community), I immediately thought of some people I’ve met since 2002, when I decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth.

Those people exactly fit what this atheist declared. And it saddens me.

But notice I wrote “some”.  And as the ancient teeny bopper singers The Osmonds sang more than 40 years ago, “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.”

In other words, to base one’s opinion on an entire faith based on the few people you’ve met is simply ludicrous and utterly without credibility. It would be like me reading news reports, then declaring that all Muslims are violent maniacs. See what I mean?

It’s important to keep this in mind: even if a person is raised by Jesus-following parents to have blind faith, that hardly means that person is simply going to go along with what they’ve been taught.

Consider my story: raised in a nominally spiritual home, my brothers and I were given the freedom (in our mid-teens) to decide for ourselves whether we would continue attending church. All of us promptly stopped and so did our parents.

Eventually, many years later and after much consideration and thought, I decided for myself to follow Jesus (who many people believe is the Son of God).  To this day, I’m the only Jesus follower in my biological family.

There are many more stories just like mine and many more that aren’t. Every story is unique, no matter what any critic of Jesus followers might declare.

Ponder these words of Ross Carkner, a wise pastor friend:

My life resembles much more a journey of discovery than it does a state of being. I am discovering who Jesus is for me in the life I live today – not my parents’ yesterday.

Like learning how to skate, it is not easy – it takes persistence and sometimes can be painful. My faith is a process of learning what the Bible says, seeking to put it into practice and appreciating what I encounter through it all.

The more I do all this, the more I can see that everyone puts their faith in something or someone. I have found a lot of personal satisfaction in putting my faith in Jesus.

So what do you want to put your faith into? A high-paying job with lots of cruise ship vacations? A trophy partner to look good at social events? Some kind of vague, superficial “just live a good life” philosophy?

Pick any of them and you’ll get the approval of our culture. Pick Jesus and you’ll get a whole lot more. You’ll get:

  • Strength to deal with life’s inevitable trials
  • A community that’s concerned about something much deeper than wine tasting or extreme sports
  • Moral clarity that so often seems lacking in our culture
  • An extraordinary ability to see every human being on this planet as being loved and cherished by God
  • A real, substantial hope – based on the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus – for something glorious and eternal when this life ends.

Sound interesting? Then post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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