When I say something so bold as, "Heaven is the thing I am least certain of in my faith," it raises a lot of eyebrows. So many Christians stake their entire belief on this one thing, eternal life, that to suggest anything different as a locus of our relationship with God seems, at the very least, bizarre.
"So, what? That means you just believe that Jesus lived in Jerusalem and was a good guy or something? Your entire faith is based around just a dude?"
Uhm, pardon me. Just a dude?
Yes, believe it or not, persons actually say this. They wonder how it can be that the "fact" of Jesus, His historical reality, His life, can be more meaningful to me than eternal life, no matter how vague that idea actually is.
But have you read the stories? Do you know the kind of "dude" Jesus was?
My faith is not centered on some "dude" who walked around some ancient city with a bunch of His friends and preached good sermons and had good ideas.
I'm talking about the Son of God who walked around doing the unthinkable, the unspeakable, the impossible. I'm talking about a Jesus who kept opening eyes, and not just of the physically blind.
I think we take for granted the things that absolutely amazed the persons of Jesus's day. I think we too often read right past them. We read, for example, that He taught in the synagogue and everyone "marveled" at His wisdom, and we just sort of think He was probably His day's Max Lucado or something, or we think of whoever our own favorite preacher is. But that doesn't even come close.
We read about how He spoke a word and demons fled, and we, like Simon the sorcerer in Acts, think what a neat little parlor trick that must have been. We think about how "fun" it probably was to see stuff like that, like the hottest ticket in Vegas. Like a really cool magic trick that you're not quite sure how it's done, but it's enjoyable to be present for. We like being wow'ed, but even when it comes to Jesus, we do it with a bit of a sense of suspension of our own disbelief, like we're just letting our eyes fool us.
That wasn't the case in Jerusalem. That's not how the peoples of the region actually experienced Him. When they say that He spoke with an authority they had never heard before, they're talking about how real Jesus was. About how authentic and genuine. And there was nothing about Jesus that gave Him some kind of untouchable, unapproachable celebrity status. There was no stage, no smoke and mirrors, no bodyguard.
Jesus was the kind of guy you would just run into at Walmart and strike up a conversation with, and then, in the very next breath, He's doing something so amazing that you can hardly understand what's happening.
I'm talking about the Jesus who gives sight to the blind, sound to the deaf, freedom to the captive, hope to the hopeless, redemption to the broken, place to the lost. I'm talking about the Jesus who spoke truth and grace so seamlessly together that you couldn't help but feel "strangely warm" around Him. I'm talking about the Jesus who went out of His way to be right where you are so that if you even got close enough to touch the hem of His robe, you would know not just the power, but the deep love, of God.
I'm talking about a Jesus who didn't speak a word in His own defense because the message He had for humanity was so much bigger than anything He could have said to Pilate or the Sanhedrin or even the guards there on Golgotha. I'm talking about a Jesus who makes the earth shake in the middle of its darkness with nothing less than the absolute love of God for us.
If you read the Gospels, if you really read them and don't let your postmodern cynical mind get in the way, hw could you ever come to the conclusion that the living God isn't "enough" to build your faith on? If you read the Gospels and hear Jesus speak through them, how could you ever decide that the very best thing about God is the eternity He's told you so little about?
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