By Julia Amting
Today I heard a story that made me want to make a point.
Penn Jillette is an entertainer, magician, and musician. He is also a professed atheist and is very vocal about it. This man recently made a vlog describing an experience he had after one of his shows. He had a man come up to him, a well-dressed man, who genuinely expressed how much he enjoyed his show. The man proceeds to give him a copy of one of those Gideon pocket size New Testaments with the Psalms, and said something along the lines of “I know you don’t believe this, but I do. And I think this is something you need.” He also left a note and different ways to contact him inscribed inside the cover.
Mr. Jillette wasn’t offended by this display, or feel like anyone was pushing their beliefs on him. He felt genuinely appreciated and loved by the Bible bearing businessman (how’s THAT for an alliteration) and was touched by the fact that he cared about his soul enough to do that. He goes on to say that He has no respect Christians that DON’T evangelize, don’t proselytize. And I quote “If you believe that there IS a Heaven and a Hell, and people are going to it, you SHOULD BE proselytizing. How much do you have to hate somebody NOT TO tell them if you believe that they will suffer eternal damnation if they don’t become Christian.”
And let me tell you, that hit me like a freight train.
Because so many people aren’t Christians not because of Christianity, but because of Christians. I’ve seen it happen way too often. And it breaks my heart.
My dad is an example of this. The Church was always presented to him as a money-grubbing political organization by its leaders. And for decades he hasn’t been able to see beyond it. And it is not because of some complex theological reasoning. It is because he firmly believes that Christians are high and mighty hypocrites.
And who does the fault belong to? The Christians.
Jesus is either a raving lunatic, or He is who He says He is. To say that He was just a great man, a great teacher, and nothing more is a load of nonsense. Why? Because He claimed to be God Himself, who had the power to forgive sins. He did radical things. His followers were fishermen, tax collectors, and those who needed healing. He had the rabble of the community following Him. He claimed to be the way to eternal life. The Pharisees, the “old white guys” of the day, thought he was not only crazy, but a heretic, blaspheming all that was good. We can’t look back and say that he was just a wise man and a great example.
If we say we believe that Jesus is, in fact, who He says He is, that reality is nothing short of life changing. We have to do something about it. We have to truly believe that we don’t have to worry, that we are so worthy of love, that the hairs on our heads are numbered. That He will help us carry our burdens, and that He loved us enough to redeem us. We have an endless amount of mercy at our fingertips. That, my friends, is a life changing reality if I’ve ever heard one.
We need to choose. We have to be all in. It’s another one of those new beginnings that take all that we have, it requires sacrifice. That stuff hurts, and change is hard. Furthermore, letting the God of the universe wreck your life with his love opens up a world of possibility. But with a world of possibility comes a world of instability. We relinquish our need for control. Scary stuff.
As Christians, we need to live like this idea of all loving God who offers us his life and his friendship, is really not an idea at all. We have to live like it’s reality. We cannot settle for mediocrity, and we cannot go halfway. If He is real, and it all is true, then eternity exists, and we have an infinite amount of joy to look forward to.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our faith is SUCH A BIG DEAL. If we truly believe we have the real deal, it should change our lives. Think of the magnanimity of the fact that there is a real Heaven and Hell. Think of the hugeness of a God who loves us so much He would die to have us be near Him. Think of the Creator of the Universe relentlessly pursuing your heart. It leaves no room for apathy.
This quote by Brennan Manning sums it all up for me.
“The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy.”
Enough said. Let His love penetrate you. And if that scares you, ask God why.
Then go, and make disciples.