Friday, March 27, 2009

Evidence of Christ

Here is the second of my Lenten devotionals.

John 12:37-41 (New International Version)
Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them." Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.

It is almost impossible to believe that these folks had difficulty believing in Jesus even though they had seen his works with their very eyes. They walked with him, saw numerous miracles; watched as lives were changed, yet still they did not believe. Like many today, they were spiritually blind. Lives are still changed; miracles still happen and yet man still struggles to believe.

The frightening reality for Christians today is that the consequence of continued unbelief is the hardening of man’s heart. When man chooses to reject God, even though he is presented with the gospel and sees the work of the Lord, it becomes more difficult for men to “see with their eyes” or “understand with their hearts”. Spiritual blindness is the inevitable outcome.

So, what are our responsibilities as followers of Christ? Matthew is pretty specific.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. “ Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

Aware that those who are lost often look to believers for evidence of Christ, should cause Christians to pause and search our hearts, confident that we are the beacons God can use to open the eyes of the lost. It means taking stock of our thoughts, actions and speech and weighing them against the holiness God calls us to. It means taking our commission to reach the lost seriously as a daily calling.


TigereyeSal said...

My understanding of what you're saying is that as a believer, you have a duty (and pleasure) to share the vision, journey and message of Christ and Christianity- I hope I am not getting that too poorly interpreted.

I've always thought that part of the message of Christ, and perhaps Christianity, was acceptance of others, which seems sometimes to be a contradictory path or approach.

I'd love to hear your insight and approach, and please forgive me if I am being clumsy in my statements.

(My word verification is salie, which seems just too a propos...

Marsha said...

Your words were perfect. What I hope that I am saying in this post is that it is our responsibility as believers to "share the vision, journey and message of Christ" (I especially love those words) by the way we live our lives. It means we are being observed by non-believers as a means to see Christ, and unfortunately I often fall short and my life shows little evidence of Christ. This fact has caused me to really pause and reflect during this lent season. Instead of giving something up, I am trying gain a better vision as to what a "Christian" looks like--for REAL, not fake, not contrived, but what does a person who loves God and wants more than anything to be His friend--what does that look like and how can nonbelievers find this attractive if they see no evidence of it in the folks who proclaim love Christ.

Unfortunately there are many Christians whose lives don't look anything like Christ--who are judgmental, self-serving, exclusive, even just doesn't make sense to me. I guess that is what I was try to relay in this post. The call to reach the lost is not one of judgment and condemnation, but one of sacrifice and love in all areas of life. Even that seems trite—because what does sacrifice and love look like? Does it mean giving to others until it is difficult? Does it mean sacrificing our comforts so that others can be comfortable? Does it mean to “live simply so others can simply live? I don’t believe it means sitting in my comfortable pew every Sunday with people just like me, living comfortably in our middle class lives—without vision for those who are hungry, unloved or without hope. Sorry, this is most likely more information that you actually wanted to know, but it is where God is leading me. Actually, it has been a good exercise to put this into words, so thank you.

TigereyeSal said...

Thanks for the further explanation and insight, Marsha. I'm fascinated by the discussion, and I'm endlessly thirsty for the hows and whys of things.

That said, the idea of "living what you believe" seems so deceptively simple. I know, though, that it's not easy- not in my life and presumably not in the life of a Christian either.

I'm going to think on this some more. I'd like to live my beliefs and live my belief system; that would necessitate clarifying for myself exactly what that belief system is, to start with. Interesting...

Thanks for the discussion!