At our church, communion is served the first Sunday of each month. Today, while I listened to the words, ate the cracker and drank the juice, it occurred to me that I should write a blog entry telling of my beliefs and God commitments. A principle of my life has been that it is imperative to act upon beliefs and share them with others—be it spiritual, political, social action, or any other element that makes up whom I am. To do less is to devalue those beliefs and make them inconsequential.
For some reason, it has always been easy to speak up politically or for causes—even in the face of opposition and when doing so invited degrees of personal risk. Being to the left of center politically and being involved in “liberal” social causes (civil and human rights, universal health care, etc.) while living in strong right wing communities has never intimidated me—in fact, it has been rather invigorating.
But—this willingness to speak out and act on my even stronger and more consequential spiritual beliefs has been difficult. Why? I can only think it is because in so many cultures, both in the US and elsewhere, people who speak out about Jesus Christ and proclaim his sovereignty are often ridiculed and viewed as myopic and “right wing nuts.” Of course, I don’t want to be considered either right wing or nuts. Or, more simply put, I have been a coward.
So—it is now time to speak boldly and with clarity about what I believe and am convinced is true. It is very easily said and explained as, contrary to what people believe, being a follower of Christ is actually quite simple—it is bending the knee to the lifestyle and commandment of Jesus that is difficult.
I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That His coming was foretold in the Old Testament and that the prophecies were fulfilled in His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven.
I believe as the apostle John said: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” and “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
No one states the road to salvation or provides the access key to heaven more clearly than Billy Graham—whom God has gifted with communication skills of such clarity that it is impossible to miss the message. As he preaches, it is essential to be “born again”--referring to a spiritual rebirth which requires that a person acknowledge:
- that Jesus was born into a human world
- that he is the Son of God:
- that his death and resurrection were required as atonement for the sins of Adam and Eve (and consequently those belonging to the rest of us.)
- that we must admit sin and accept the gift of saving grace by asking Jesus, the Son of God, to enter our lifes' and then walk together for the rest of eternity
So—it is about as simple a thing to do as blinking an eye and yet it is, for so many, a hard step to take. The tragedy is that eternity offers only two options--one provides a glorious forever and the other promises an eternity of pain. And so------for those of us who believe and know this truth, our greatest sin is not sharing it freely and openly.
How can I explain being concerned with the quality of life that people have or don't have while on this earth and yet remain silent on the greater issue of forever? The answer is simply that I have failed in being true to my own human standards and philosophy and, more importantly, failed God's expectation for me.
I think of the faith of children and its purity and wonder at what point the child leaves us. Three years ago when we were in the great cathedral in Seville, Casey stood mezmorized in front of a large crucifix. After a while, he turned to the stranger standing next to him and said, "He's not on the cross anymore, you know." I often wonder if that stranger ponders the thought of a little 4 year old.
This was at the cathderal in Ortygia, Syracuse, Sicily. As we were doing what adults do, checking out all the nooks and crannies, Casey asked if he could kneel and pray. Sometimes I wonder why we were given this little treasure of a child. But--I thank God for him daily.