Working toward a concise gospel presentation

The hope and power of a Christian spirituality begins with this: who Christ claims to be.  What is this claim? That Jesus understood Himself to be a God and a Man. If it’s true, this is the most astounding fact of history.  The story of our sacred writings is about the estrangement between God and us, and how the God Man person is a bridge, a healing reconciliation between God and people.  This isn’t just a bible story, it’s also told in the headlines on CNN and the private sorrows of our families.  If Jesus is a God man, then our assumptions about the world and the universe are probably wrong.  Something has come in from outside space and time.  Someone. But this story takes an unexpected turn. The God Man is murdered, executed as a criminal.  The story of estrangement and ruin seems complete, and Jesus enters into the full destruction of our lives.  If they story ended there, then it would just be another sad proof of how bad everything can be.

But no, because He is this unique and unparalleled individual, He rises from the dead.  Sounds hard to believe doesn’t it?  But it’s perfectly consistent with who He claims to be. The concept runs like this.  Because He is a man, He can and does die. It really hurts.  He bleeds and cries.  But because He is a God death cannot hold him, cannot be permanent or lasting.  Because He is a God He resurrects from the dead.  Tomb opens up.  Folks are shocked who see Him. But the idea gets even more shocking.  As an event, this death/resurrection isn’t confined to first century Palestine.  Because He is a man he dies and rises from the dead in space and time. There was a place you could plot by latitude and longitude, and it happened at a time, like around 6pm.  If there had been a camera you would have pictures. But because He is a God this event has an infinite effect.  Beyond time and space. You can’t measure this part, because it’s so big. It doesn’t matter if it happened thousands of years ago.  It’s so real and powerful it’s like it just happened a minute ago.  So this God Man goes even further and tells us you can be connected with Him.  Intimately.  There can be union with Him.

This connection with Him then becomes a connection with the events of His death and resurrection.  Union with Him and with those things that happened.  This brings up a strange hope that you might not have thought of before.  The idea that men and women, boys and girls – every kind of person there is – can be “one with God.”  If that’s possible, who wouldn’t want it?  What’s really hard to imagine is why this God wants union with us.  Remember, we’re estranged.  But that’s the point.  The God Man enters into our ruin so He can heal it.  He is dying on a tree in pain, nailed and broken.  You are there.  He rises from the dead, walking out of a tomb.  You are there.  This God Man now stands in an eternal beautiful place.  You are there.  How do you actually touch this, or experience it?  Christian spirituality describes something called “faith.” This faith is always with a preposition. “In” or “into.”  Intimacy with God happens through trust, reliance, and dependence.  This creates new life in us.  Think of it this way.  You touch a stove, you get burned.  You grab an open electric wire, you get a jolt.  You touch God by faith, you get a new life.  A new kind of life.  An eternal kind.

Here is the struggle I have as I write this.  Not only is there hostility to these ideas in our modern scientific brains, a hostility I think it overstated and oversold.  The problem is actually much worse.  Our sacred writings predict that you won’t get it.  Not on your own.  This may all sound mysterious, incredible, and strange.  It should if you’re reading it right. So God must reveal it to you.  Remember – the God Man idea promises a lot. If a God Man has entered space and time, then God has sought us out.  And if the claims are true, then He lives – able and willing to show this truth and bring rebirth to your life and heart.  Try calling out to Him today.  Simple words of trust and need are actually heard by Him in our time.  In our world.  I believe this, because He heard me.

 

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