Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up?

Twice this week I have heard the quote 'we don't know what we don't know'. I have taken just a little bit of time to think about it and it is absolutely true. Those things that are outside of the scope of our current realm of personal knowledge really are unknown to us. It is from this thought that I bound into one of my points.

Several weeks ago one of my co-workers shared with me how they had heard Billy Graham's daughter being interviewed on television. They shared that they were a bit uncomfortable with the fact that she was saying that Jesus Christ was the only way to have sins forgiven, that Jesus was the only savior and outside of him there was no other way to know, see or please God. I must admit, being on television being viewed by millions and saying that can come across as a bit arrogant to some. Maybe elitist to others. Make no mistake though, as she uttered those words she did so with a passionate clarity. She drew lines that made it very clear what she believed and intended to communicate to those listening.

As my co-worker shared her discomfort with those statements with me, I shared with her about the interview I watched on Larry King Live with Joel Osteen. Osteen, who pastors the largest attended church in the United States was asked by King if Jesus is the only way to get to heaven or something to that effect. Mr. Osteen responded with some very uncomfortable utterances of things resembling, "I don't want to judge anybody. God knows a persons heart." etc. When Mr. King asked Osteen if Jews, who believe in God, were wrong and not going to heaven, Osteen back peddled and offered no definitive answers but only more words of things like, "Only God knows a person's heart etc. etc.".

Compare the two responses and one will clearly see a difference. Billy Graham's daughter made no apology and said Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through him. Mr. Osteen was simply bent on not offending anyone with what the Bible says and insisted, despite what the Bible says, that we really can't know who has been a recipient of God's saving grace, only God can know that.

While Mr. Osteen is preaching the message that we don't know what we don't know, Miss Graham seemed more intent on focussing on what we do know. The difference in deciding on what to say to the people around us is found in the consequences stemming from what we have said. While it is more palatable to be the bearer of good news and supply all the warm fuzzies for people, one can find themselves being thrown under the proverbial bus for actually standing up and proclaiming Christ.

As we read Philipians, specifically chapter 1, we notice Paul saying something quite interesting. Our pastor at church pointed this out and hovered on this one Sunday morning. Paul said that "it has been granted to us that we should not only believe, but also suffer for his sake..." (I paraphrase verse 29).

In this amazing little verse we see that it is possible, it is within the realm of acceptability for the Christian, yes, even perhaps to be expected, and then taken as no surprise, that suffering may be part of our journey with Christ.

This isn't Sunday morning-bring-your-friend-to-church stuff. This is real life, at work, talking to someone about Christ and the Bible stuff. This is where the world meets Jesus in you and in me. What my co-workers don't need to hear is that I don't know what I don't know. What they need to understand is that God loves them, Christ died for them and that somehow, through an imperfect, awful person like myself, they can be introduced to the saving grace of God through Christ by getting the message that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

I finished my conversation with my co-worker defending Miss Graham for it is her that stood up for what was true with passion and conviction despite the barrage she may have taken. My co-worker said, "I'll give you that, that's a good point." While one Christian was proclaiming Christ, the other was hiding behind what he didn't know. Would the real Christian please stand up? Are you standing?

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