Monday, May 31, 2010

Hard sayings

Last night someone preached on Revelation. And this was the conversation going on in my head.

Me: I believe the Bible.

Unbelieving Friend who loves and accepts everyone but finds my beliefs a little silly: What about Revelation? Scorpions, really? So many different plagues poured out at once that I will be trying to commit suicide?... Pretty sure God's not like that.

Me: (who is not very good on my feet, even in imaginary conversations) um...

It feels good to be the Christian who teaches that we are to love everybody, pray for everyone... you know, the Deitrich Bonhoeffer quoting Christian who says that we are to give up our lives for each other. It's easy to say those things, at least.

But its not easy to say that I believe in Revelation. Revelation is hard to believe.

One Buddhist-ish acquaintance told me that he read the whole Bible and liked it but Revelation was 'like bad acid trip.' Believing in Revelation is a little embarrassing, to be honest.

Then almost like clockwork God gives me the story about 'hard sayings' this morning in John 6. I say like clockwork because I've been given this answer before.

So I'm reading John 6, where Jesus says he is the bread of life. And as I was reading Christ's words were basically striking me like this: 'you have to decide whether I am the Christ or not. I came from the Father, and this is what the Father wants you to do. Believe me. Believe that I am the Christ. Believe my words.'

Now to me that sounds hard - make a decision now. Is this man Jesus false or true? But the next part is infinitely harder and easier all at once.

'Just kidding, you don't have to decide. If God wills it, and if you love God, you will automatically know that I am from God.'

That statement is, in a sense easier, because it removes a responsibility to somehow research Christ's claims and make a decision based on our intellect. It is not easier because it asks our sinful minds to accept God's sovereign choice. Christ's words are still hard; hard to understand and hard to swallow.

So disciples, I am right there with ya when you say to Jesus after that: 'This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?'

Then my answer for today came. Some left because Jesus' sayings were so hard. And Jesus said to his disciples 'are you going to go away too?' And Peter said: 'There's no place else to go, you are the one who has eternal life. And we have believed, and have come to know (I like that because it denotes that there is another level of knowledge far superior to the initial belief) that you are the Holy One of God.'

Why do we stick with Jesus? Because the story of redemption is a cute story? Definitely not. We are Christians because the story of redemption is a true story. We are Christians because we need eternal life, and Jesus has it.

1 comment:

  1. I know how you feel, although I've never had any trouble accepting Revelation. If you accept the rest of the Bible, there's no issue with the supernatural judgments meted out in the final book.

    There's times I wonder at the fantastic nature of the Bible, and how even though science and the Bible fit (in spite of what secular scientists say), it's easy to be taken in the moment by doubts about creation, the fall, redemption, etc.

    Whenever I start thinking like that, Israel pops up in the news. From a worldly perspective, why on earth should Israel be singled out for such hatred. If a world full of brutality, the civilized (and uncivilized) world's indigination pours out on Israel for even the slightest perceived injustice.

    What other nation in the history of the world has been overthrown, taken away captive, returned from captivity, maintained an identity during its dispersion throughout the entire world & then been re-established as a nation.

    In addition to being God's chosen people and his vessel for sending salvation into the world, the history of Israel, up to and including the present day stands as a testament to the authenticity of the Bible.

    Israel's story only makes sense if Biblical prophecy is true and that God's stated plan for her is in fact in motion.

    When those pieces are in place, the story of Revelation makes for a fitting conclusion.