Archive for May, 2002

A Christian who didn’t like Jesus

Monday, May 27th, 2002

I had a friend who didn’t like Jesus. She read about him in the Bible, and she didn’t like him. She thought he was arrogant and self-righteous.

I thought I was pretty open-minded until she told me, but it was a shock.

Does anyone else ever feel like this? How do you cope? Could I ever admit it if I did feel this?

You must believe the Bible right now – Part 1

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002

Here’s the argument:

“If you start questioning certain parts of the Bible, where do you stop? You’ll have to question all of it, and where do you draw the line between bits you ignore and bits you believe?”

Here’s my opinion of that argument:

Not an argument at all: doublethink.

Here’s another argument:

“If you start questioning certain parts of what the Prime Minister says, where do you stop? You’ll have to question all of it, and where do you draw the line between bits you ignore and bits you believe?”

This is clearly rubbish.

You can’t dictate what you believe by looking at the consequences of that opinion.

You have to decide in all conscience what you think, and then live with the consequences.

Here’s another argument:

“I can’t believe the world is round until after next summer, because I’m going to Australia and I don’t want to fall off.”

What you believe doesn’t change the fact that the world is round. Similarly, what you believe doesn’t change the Bible.

I’m not saying that the Bible contains untrue things. What I am saying is that if you think it might, the argument above is not a good way of persuading you otherwise.

Is it possible to be a Christian and think that some parts of the Bible are wrong?

Rock Bottom

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

The best thing about being a Christian is knowing that God is always with you. The worst thing is when he goes away and leaves you.

“Ah – but he doesn’t actually leave you. It’s only your feelings going wrong.” So say the lucky people who have never felt deserted by God!

Some of the people in the Old Testament knew what it’s like.

Job:

God has wronged me and drawn his net around me.
Though I cry “I’ve been wronged!” I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
He has blocked my way so that I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.

Jeremiah:

O Lord you deceived me and I was deceived.

The trouble is – it happens. And when you feel deserted by God, where are you but in hell?

Can Jesus help in this sort of hell?

Jesus grew up knowing and enjoying God. He loved getting away to talk to God for hours. He shared God’s secrets. He called God his father – even his Daddy. His delight was to do what his father wanted. Communion with God was in his very nature.

Then after a lifetime of loving and serving his father, he faced his crisis. He was arrested and there was no help from God. Of course, he didn’t expect any help, he knew he had to go through with it. But he also knew that God was still with him. Next day, even during the agony of being crucified, he still talked to his God. “Father forgive them . . .” At his lowest point his sense of God remained. He knew his father was with him. But suddenly – all was changed. The cloud came down. The heavens became black. “Father, where are you? I can’t see you. I can’t feel you. What’s happened? You’ve always been with me. You were there yesterday as they tortured me. You were there this morning as they drove in the nails. Now suddenly you’re gone! Why? My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” The unthinkable had happened. Jesus had lost his faith.

We know the sequel. (Where would we be without the sequel?!) The blackness did not last. Triumph and resurrection followed. With hindsight the crisis was a short one. But what use is hindsight when you’re struggling with the blackness? What use is Jesus’ resurrection when you’re not even sure he exists? God has deserted you. There’s no reason to believe anything. You’re drowning. Is there no lifeline? YES there is! When you feel abandoned by God, Jesus has already been there. He KNOWS!

There may be no other reason for being a Christian – but this is reason enough.

References: Job 19.6-8; Jeremiah 20.7; Luke 2.41-52; Matt 14.23; Matt 11.25-27; John 5.20; Mark 14.36; John 6.38; Matt 26.50-54; Luke 23.24; Matt 27.45,46

What happened to Bathsheba?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2002

I can’t understand why David in Psalm 51 says “Against you, you only, have I sinned”. It seems to me the person he let down most was Bathsheba. But why doesn’t she get a mention in his apparent guilt as expressed in this plea for mercy?

As I think about how ineffective I am as a Christian I often think about how I let people down. I can’t get into this “I’m off to heaven so I’m alright” bit and I often feel like I would feel more at home with the let down people, who according to some people’s interpretation, are destined for the more warmer climate of ‘down there’. If we sin against another person, whatever that sin is, we destroy another chance for them to have confidence in the gospel. Is that right?

Then in Matthew 18 v15-17 Jesus tells those who have been sinned against to go and tell the culprit. What did Bathsheba do? Did she say to David “With God on your side I assume you will get away with this?”

God’s grace was once again exploited.

My testimony – final more level-headed version

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002

I became a Christian at the end of the first year of my degree, which is now about 3 years ago. Though brought up in a Christian home, up until then I had decided God, Christianity and church were not for me.

However, I had always felt deep down that God existed and that Jesus came to earth and died for my sins. It’s hard to explain but though I ignored it I knew it was true but I just didn’t act on it and tried to prevent it from impinging on my life. This meant, of course, that my life without God was fraught with contradictions and meant I worried that if it was true, I should do something about it, and if it wasn’t true, that caused serious problems for some of my deeply held beliefs.

So, 3 years ago, I decided it was true and became a Christian. I would like to say those 3 years have been a time full of obedience to God, radical improvements in me as a person and the growth of a faith that could shift the Alps. Sadly I don’t feel this is the case.

Looking back to see how you have changed is always difficult as most change is gradual and it’s often very hard to be objective about it. Change is hard to recognise and when I do, it is all too easy to ascribe the changes to time or even to myself, rather than to God.

Over the last three years, it’s hard to see how my relationship with God has changed, but I feel it has, improving slowly but steadily, overcoming my natural distrust. Rather than through extreme spiritual experiences or emotional crises, I feel most progress has been made through my learning actually to trust God.

Having this type of relationship, to which it is hard to ascribe dramatic emotional experiences, often makes me feel insecure and makes me worry that I don’t have as good as a relationship with God as other people do. The last three years have shown me how suspicious I am of emotion, always resisting the feeling of getting carried away, and finding emotional experiences rarely seem very convincing after the immediate feelings have fizzled out.

I am learning more and more how individual a relationship with God is, and how comparison (though often involuntary) is fruitless.

Having highlighted how hard it is to assess yourself objectively, there are definitely areas in my life, in which I can see God’s hand. I can definitely recognise His peace in my life. This is a clear answer to my prayers and without which, on many occasions, my panicking, paranoia or distrust could have wasted opportunities.

`Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever’ (Hebrews 13v8), over the last 3 years this verse has been very important to me, reminding me that however my moods differ, my circumstances change, or my confidence fluctuates, God does not change. However far I move from him, he loves me just the same.

My testimony – the first bolshy draft

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002

I became a Christian at the end of the first year of university, which is now about three years ago. Since then I have not always loved my neighbour and though I do not covet my neighbour’s ass, I could not be called a good person by the world’s standards, let alone God’s.

I do not feel like I am always doing God’s will, most of the time I am not even sure what God wants me to be doing. I do not feel that God is constantly with me and though after this speech you may feel I have no shame, the idea that I should be a reflection of God’s glory makes me feel very ashamed.

Despite all this I do believe that I am saved. Though often I doubt it and often ignore God and feel far from him, I believe he is always there.

So basically I am being baptised because God and I have made a commitment to each other.

As I said at the beginning of this speech, I have been a Christian for about three years so you would have thought I would got around to being baptised before now.

There are two very good reasons why I have not: firstly I did not want to give my testimony and have everyone looking at me, and secondly as time passed I did not want to have to answer the question – why have you not got around to being baptised before now.

However I think that the real reason is not the very convincing excuses I fooled myself with but straight terror at the thought of confirming in front of other people my commitment of giving my life to Jesus.

A little while ago, when I was explaining to someone, what I was going to say in my testimony, someone suggested it was actually more of an anti-testimony dwelling more on what God has not changed yet.

I guess what I would like my testimony to make clear is that even if you do not feel you are the Christian type or are not prepared to conform, God offers you eternal life and more importantly he loves you how you are.