Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Christianity Makes Sense

I was on vacation last week. I was sitting on the side walk eating in little Italy at my favorite Italian restaurant—Paesano’s on Mulberry Street—when I met two couples from Canada. We struck up a conversation. It was 2:00 pm. They were drunk! I know they were drunk because after talking with them for a few minutes one of the women started saying, “Oh, isnt’ he cute? He’s so cute! I could listen to him talk all day” right in front of her husband. He did nothing but nod his head. “Oh, he’s so cute.” She kept saying. Anyone who calls me cute like that must be drunk. At any rate, the conversation went from food to religion then to tourism then back to religion again and as I got up to leave, I said, “Consider Jesus. Really! Consider Christianity. It makes sense.” They nodded their heads and she said once again, “Isn’t he cute.” I left and doubt they’ll remember much of our conversation, but why would I say Christianity makes sense? Over the past several years I’ve pondered that and came up with a short list of reasons it makes sense to me. This is not definitive but its something to build on. To me, Christianity makes sense because:

•A robust Christianity provides the best foundation for answering our deepest questions about life (like why are we here), our deepest wants, our deepest desires, our deepest needs.
 •Christianity is not rooted in some religious code of morality that we follow so that we can be better than others, but rooted in the belief that our best efforts at being moral end in failure and make us no different than others--therefore we all need a savior!
 •Christianity believes that while it’s a mystery as to why God allows evil to continue, he’s not indifferent to it. God takes our suffering and misery so seriously that he is willing to be involved in it personally through the life, death and suffering of Jesus Christ.
•Christianity believes that God wants to free us from the thing that enslaves us the most—the compulsion to make good things ultimate things and center our lives around temporal things that were never really intended to satisfy us—things that leave us empty.
•Christianity believes that people are full of goodness because we’ve all been created in the image of God---though every part of our lives is tainted by bad and sin.
•Christianity believes that because we are so flawed ourselves, it’s patently unfair to be judgmental of others! We must discern right from wrong and justice from injustice, but judgmentalism has no place in Christianity.
•Christianity believes in loving our enemies and those who are different or those who disagree with us, because God loved us when we were his enemies, and sent Jesus to die for us, so who are we to be hostile to others!
•And furthermore, since Christianity believes that God has revealed himself in time and space in the person and work of Christ, we humbly and tactfully invite others to consider what we claim to be the revelation of Gods truth because it makes more sense and answers more questions than other religious claims.

Honestly, the Christian religion is rooted in history, embodied in the person of Jesus Christ, and expressed in the church. The apologetic or defense of the Christian faith is not in logic or reason but in revelation! A revelation embraced by the church and embodied in the scriptures the church embraces as true and reliable. And because its rooted in revelation, Christians can relax when talking about it because the goal isn’t to prove it rationally but to show that it makes sense.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Agnes Laughs--A Resurrection Experience

Agnes laughs. She’s 94 years old and she laughs—all the time this lady laughs! I first met her in a training event at Calvary church during our first Leadership Summit. She laughed—if felt like she jumped—at me so hard that it startled me. I got a pretty cool adrenaline rush from it all. She laughed so hard at startling me that she doubled over. She laughs. Why? She delights in God. Seriously, this old lady loves Jesus. She laughs because of Jesus. Not the religious Jesus with the wimpy fair skin and the flowing brown hair and blue Scandinavian eyes but the Jesus that the Gospels talks about. That Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins has so captured Agne’s heart that she laughs. The playful side of the work of Christ on our behalf makes her laugh. The joy of the resurrection life makes her laugh.

Of course, the other side of that whole business is what theologians call the atonement. It is serious. God’s love for us cost him dearly. It wasn’t this sort of sentimental love found in refrigerator magnet theology. The eternal God lost, for a time, the infinite intimacy he’d had among the three members of this Triune community of One. While Christ hung on the cross for our sin, things got dark. God the Father turned his back on God the Son. That’s serious! But the other side of the coin is playful. God, in Christ, invites us into the joy and delight of this Triune being because of the cross (John 17:22-23).

Agnes has it figured out. She laughs—hard and long and loud. She says, “I can’t hear so well!” Then she laughs. No kidding!! I want to be like Agnes when I grow up. I want to laugh and because of the serious work of the cross I can!! C.S. Lewis, in his book The Last Battle in the Chronicles of Narnia series puts it like this, “There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious.” Get serious and laugh. Its resurrection day!