(Photo: Dan Delzell)
If Christianity involved nothing more than a person changing some of his habits, then I suppose it could probably be understood through common sense. But Christianity is a much deeper phenomenon. It goes to the core of your existence....what the Bible calls your "spirit" and your "inner being." (Ephesians 3:16)
Trying to fully explain Christianity to an unbeliever is like trying to fully explain skydiving to someone who is still sitting in the plane and too nervous to make their first jump. How do you explain something that must be experienced to be properly understood? Oh, it's easy to criticize Christians when you are not yet willing to jump yourself....especially if you decide to dwell on examples of professing Christians who are not living a noble life. Imagine someone sitting in a plane and criticizing the way the skydivers are supposedly doing it all wrong....and yet that sort of "sideline criticism" goes on everyday.
Why doesn't Christianity make sense to our natural way of thinking? The answer is simple. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) The word "cannot" says it all. It's not that unbelievers are incapable of considering Christian doctrine. It's just that without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for them to understand it....and fully accept it....and be changed by it.
An unbeliever must know Jesus in order to be a Christian....and an unbeliever cannot know Jesus without the Holy Spirit working in his heart to help him know Christ. In other words, you cannot simply rationalize your way into Christianity. You need divine assistance. You need God's help....and His power....and His illumination in your heart and mind.
So how do I get that? Well....for starters, how about asking God to give you wisdom concerning Christianity? I know....it is so much easier to just stay focused on those people or those issues which up until now, have prevented you from keeping an open mind to the message of the New Testament. But Christianity at its core is about Jesus. So maybe you know a professing Christian who is not as perfect as Jesus. Do you really want your decision about Christ to be based more on that person than on the Savior Himself?
The question is not whether or not you can find some fault in a Christian's life. The real question is whether or not you are able to find any fault in the life of Jesus....and in his death and resurrection. Get to that point in your evaluation of this faith. Get to the real issue.....because if you ever do take that step and actually jump, you will see things very differently I assure you. There will still be the temptation to focus on the sins of others....which is never a healthy practice....but you will have a much stronger reality in your life at that time. You will have the God of the universe living inside your "inner being." That experience, my friend, will begin to rock your worldview.
Once you begin a relationship with God through faith in His Son....then Christ is living inside of you....and your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You suddenly begin to treat people with a lot more compassion and empathy. The reason? Because Christ in you is filled with compassion for people. Look at what He said while He was hanging on the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) When Jesus comes to take up residence in your life, there is an instant infusion of compassion.
But what about those "Christians" who are so judgmental and critical of others? What about them? When professing Christians still behave like sinners, we see that the "narrow road" is not a walk in the park. Maybe Christ is living inside those professing believers....and maybe He isn't....but there are millions of believers around the world who don't spend their time criticizing others. Those are the ones who are really allowing the Lord to control their lives. Maybe you have only known the "other kind" of religious people.
If you have not met Jesus in person....that is, through faith....then you are still sitting in the plane thinking of all the reasons not to jump. I don't blame you. It's natural to want to remain in a place that feels "safer" in a way. At the same time, the fact is that Jesus did leave heaven and "jumped" to earth for you. For Him, it wasn't an act of faith, but one of pure love. He died on the cross for your sins. He rose again for you. If you decide to remain in the plane after all He has done for you, then you can explain to Him one day why you made your decision to do so.
My job....and the job of all believers....is to tell you the good news and to encourage you to "take the plunge." Jump for Jesus. Tell Him that you are a sinner and that you no longer want to live for sin. That is what it means to "repent." Place your faith in Him to forgive you....and then begin to live for Him.
But beware....if you jump....you may have some family members and friends who will be quick to criticize your decision....and who may be quick to point out if and when they perceive you to be acting in a less than perfect manner. After all, they need to have something to focus upon rather than their own sin and their need for Jesus.
And so it goes....people around the world jumping everyday into the arms of the Savior....and others mumbling in the plane about those hypocritical skydivers who are not doing it the right way. Which group are you in? And more importantly, which group are you going to be in by the end of this day....and the end of this week?
Christianity will never make sense to you until you humble yourself before Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Until then, you will be sitting in this plane trying to convince yourself that those skydivers are out of their minds to have taken the plunge. You are welcome to your opinion....and God gave you the free will to sit in unbelief, or to jump in faith. Whether you believe it or not, your plane is not going to land safely if you choose to remain in it. You can jump to freedom which will extend forever, or go down with the plane in unbelief and criticism of Christians. That choice also has eternal ramifications.
Don't you clearly see the two options before you? Don't you want to know why millions of believers are willing to die if necessary for Jesus, their Creator and Redeemer? You were born on this plane....along with the rest of humanity....but that doesn't mean you have to die on it when it goes down. Unbelief is man's default position from birth....whereas faith in Jesus Christ is a supernatural reality and experienced only by believers. So jump and watch God catch you. Stop doubting and believe. The parachute which Jesus earned for you on the cross won't help you a bit if you refuse to jump and believe.
Perhaps you are still skeptical. If so, then consider this question: What did Jesus ever do to you to make you so resistant to Him and His plan of salvation? It's time to get over your perceptions....and your fears about "losing control" of the situation. It should come as no surprise that you are probably the most controlling person you know. Jumping into the arms of Jesus actually liberates you from yourself. Then and only then will Christianity start making sense to you.