”You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
The words of Jesus about love and hope and forgiveness appeal to a wide audience. Gandhi was shrewd enough to tell missionaries, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Jesus was well received until he began to challenge beliefs. Muslims accept that Jesus was a servant, teacher, and lover of God’s Word, they do not believe that he was divine or the son of God. The Jews rejected him when he equated himself with the great “I am” (Yahweh). Secularists like the teachings about love, but reject the spiritual. There are many stumbling blocks to faith. Still, God calls people to himself if they have an open heart.
47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. 51 Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
A pastor once told me that a rejection of Christ often has a moral basis. While there are sophisticated arguments for not accepting the faith, they often sound like hollow excuses to accompany the choice of a more liberated lifestyle. Choosing atheism seems like the intelligent choice, but it is bankrupt of meaning and requires its own leap of faith. Those who grow up in different religions have difficulty understanding the doctrines of original sin, the trinity, and the atonement. How then can anyone become a Christian?
It is a response to a call. Like a GPS guiding us home. It is the hunger in the night, the awe of a sunset, the cry of a newborn baby. It is the tears at the graveside of a loved one, the regret for past wrongs, the longing for purpose. It is the search for truth, the craving to return to a place of peace and hope. It is an invitation from God.
“Those who come to him must believe that he is and he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6 No one is expected to come to Christ with a sophisticated theology. It is simple enough for a child. It is responding to the first blush of love, hoping that the lover is worthy of our trust. It does not require perfection, only consent. It is the first prayer, “God help me”; the first praise, “Thank you God”, the first confession, “I’m sorry.” Jesus, the stone the builders rejected, will become the cornerstone of your life.
Lord, No matter where we are at in our faith walk, you wait for us to respond to your promptings. At times we need to be brought to our knees in repentance; other times we need to be held on your knee as a child. Don’t give up on us Lord. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Amen.