Posts Tagged ‘Michael “Bull” Roberts’

Where's the plan? 2.15When I saw this graphic, posted on an atheist website, my immediate reaction was: I bet that’s how the world looks to a lot of people.

It’s hardly a stretch to write that planet Earth appears to be in permanent chaos. Wars, viruses, terrorism, rampant corruption, female and child slavery, broken marriages, child sexual abuse. I’m sure you can easily add to the list.

So where’s the plan? Is all this playing out according to some orderly arrangement? Really?

In a word, YES. Now stay with me while I explain.

People of faith like me believe God’s plan is not so much about events. It’s about people. It’s about a relationship with Him through Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s divine Son.

That relationship has three key parts:

1. It can, and has, changed the world for the better. Consider these facts:

  • Jesus followers have started hospitals and universities (this blog sheds light on that topic: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-9O).
  • A Jesus follower, William Wilberforce, tirelessly led the decades-long fight to end slavery in Great Britain.
  • Jesus-following scientist Francis S. Collins played a leading role in mapping the human genome.
  • Members of a Jesus-following organization, the International Justice Mission, risk their lives to free female and child slaves in the developing world.

2. It can, and has, brought life-changing peace to lives torn apart by pain and misery. Two examples:

  • Second World War hero Louis Zamperini (subject of the Hollywood movie Unbroken) was an angry alcoholic tortured by regular nightmares of his time in a Japanese prison camp. Then he became a serious Jesus follower. The nightmares ended. The drinking stopped. And his troubled marriage was restored.
  • Beaten up and betrayed by his criminal friends, Michael “Bull” Roberts was at the end of his rope when he reached out to Jesus. Since then, he’s left behind a life of crime and sought to help others in his situation. (You can read a bit more of his story here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-5g).

3. It’s based on free will. This might seem difficult for you to accept because free will includes our ability to do all the nasty stuff I mentioned in the second paragraph. You might protest that a loving God would not allow all those things to happen. But centuries of evidence shows that free will is an all-or-nothing proposition.

If the nasty things I mentioned were stopped, then so would your ability to ignore God and reject the gift He offers you: a changed life, now and for all eternity, through faith in Jesus.

It’s up to YOU to respond to the gift. It’s up to YOU to figure out whether you want to be part of God’s work to make this broken world a better place. It’s up to YOU to take hold of the life-changing peace He offers through Jesus.

So what do you think? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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ReligionThe other day, I encountered a blog by someone named David Foster who disputed the claim I and many others have made: that Christianity is about a relationship with God through Jesus of Nazareth, rather than an ‘organized religion’.

“Even if this ‘being’, which you claim to have a relationship with, does exist, your worshipping of him or her still constitutes a religion,” David writes. “I would say the same about people whose praise of their boyfriend or girlfriend crosses the line into worship.”

An interesting point. But just because many people worship God and his son, Jesus, doesn’t make it a religion. Many people believe God made this entire universe, including the air you are breathing as you read this essay. You and I would not be alive without some sort of creator, so why shouldn’t He be worshipped? And that’s the precise reason why worshipping God is nothing like worshipping your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend.

Another point from the David Foster blog:  “To me, it seems that Christians are simply believing in something they were indoctrinated to believe in, usually since childhood.”

Okay, then, David. How do you explain me? My entire biological family bought into the ridicule our culture has for Jesus and abandoned Him decades ago. Until 2002, I was with them 100 per cent. Yet, I changed – and it wasn’t because of an awful crisis, either.

So my question remains, David: how do you explain me and so many others who were NOT ‘indoctrinated’ into following Jesus, yet they still made a life-changing commitment to Him?

Finally, David Foster makes this assertion: “To me, the relationship Christians have with Jesus is in no way distinguishable from the relationship children have with their imaginary friends. I’ll change my mind in the event a Christian demonstrates that Jesus can do something tangible that an imaginary friend cannot.”

There are all kinds of examples of Jesus doing what most of us would consider nearly impossible. Off the top of my head, I think of Michael ‘Bull’ Roberts, a man who graduated from a horrific childhood to become a gang leader who ran most of the drug trade in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Michael’s ‘friends’ in the drug world eventually turned on him, beating him savagely and leaving him for dead. In the aftermath, he turned to Jesus.

Today? No more gang activity. No more drug dealing. No more violence. In fact, Michael now spends his time helping street kids, society’s outcasts and people in prisons.

I suppose if David Foster and other skeptics want to credit Michael’s new life to an ‘imaginary friend’, they will find a way. But wouldn’t that position smack of the very desperation that David attributes to Jesus followers?

So what about you? Where do you stand on the notion of Christianity being a relationship rather than a religion? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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