Monday, May 22, 2006

E is for Evidence

I have sometimes wondered what it would take to convince some of my friends about Jesus. People have even told me they'd believe, "if I saw a miracle." or "if I saw God appear right here in front of me." It turns out, of course, that Jesus tried that:
Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
John 12.37-38
God had also tried it in the desert -- six days a week for forty years, he provided food for a couple of million escaped slaves, the children of Israel. Some of them believed in him, but others wanted to kill Moses and go back into slavery!

I also think about my own faith journey, and what took me so long to come to faith. Of course it wasn't a problem of evidence; I just wasn't interested in having someone else be in charge of my life, of giving an account to someone else. You see, if I had believed Jesus really was the son of God, I'd have to call him "Lord," and I wanted to be my own boss.

Was that silly? Of course it was! What did I give up by calling Jesus "Lord"? A sense of independence (I was as independent as a wanderer in a trackless waste), loneliness, futility. I could do just what I wanted! But again, though I could choose my actions, I couldn't then also choose the consequences.

God was offering me a gold bar, while I preferred to clutch a rusty slug.

Turns out I hadn't invented anything new:
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn--and I would heal them.
Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
John 12.39-43
OK, so some of them were blinded (there's another passage I don't quite get). Others believed, though, but wouldn't tell anybody. They wanted to be like Jesus's secret friends or something. They would rather not get thrown out of the synagogue than to be able to look Jesus in the face and call him "Lord" in front of others.

How about you and me? Do people around us know we're Christians, that we follow Jesus? If being a christian suddenly became a crime, would our neighbors and co-workers have enough evidence to lock us up? I sure hope so!

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