I had the privilege of listening to a powerful message a few days ago, titled ‘What are you going to do with Jesus?’. For me, the message centered on three critical notions.
1. Jesus was either a raving lunatic, a con-artist, or truly the son of God.
2. The courage to stick to your principles, even if it means having to resist the majority.
3. If Jesus really is the son of God, then what does that make you and I?
Let’s address each point.
Was Jesus a Raving Lunatic?
The possibility of Jesus being a raving lunatic, is, to be fair, quite logical for anyone who doesn’t believe in God. But my question is this – how many lunatics do you know that heal the sick, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and enable the dumb to speak???
Hence, the likelihood of Jesus being a lunatic is zilch.
The Fear of The Majority
I often wonder whether I’d have been one of the rabble demanding Jesus’s crucifixion, had I been alive during that momentous period. Sounds a little absurd? Maybe not – after-all, most of us, at some point in life, have feared the consequences of going against the majority. Indeed, the recent comments of Tim Farron, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats comes to mind. He confessed that he was wrong to have said, during the last general election campaign, that homosexuality isn’t a sin. He explained that he had gone against his beliefs and principles, as a result of not wanting to upset the majority, and thereby radically reducing his party’s chances of winning votes / seats. The question of whether homosexuality is or isn’t a sin, is not the matter at hand here. Rather, his confession of not wanting to go against the majority is. In a world wherein, the media continues to maintain a vice-like grip on the direction of the world at large, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to be honest about one’s beliefs /principles. Furthermore, and especially in western Europe and North America, political correctness has created a society wherein most are afraid to speak openly about their views on matters; and as a result, our world has become one that’s governed by a fear of the majority.
It’s for this same reason many would rather say they’re ‘spiritual’, as against ‘Christian’; that their faith is a private matter, and hence needn’t be discussed with anyone. Western Europe and North America seem to have reached a point at which it is no longer cool, or acceptable (to the majority), to be Christian.
Jesus did, however, point out that his followers would be persecuted because of him. He didn’t just mean physical persecution, but also slander, ridicule, ostracism, smear campaigns, and all manner of ways in which to besmirch an individual’s name or reputation.
In today’s world, if you stick to your beliefs you’re called a ‘fundamentalist’. But, as I pointed out in last week’s video, the fact that one believes that Jesus died for one’s sins, and that He’s the son God, doesn’t make one a weirdo. No more so than the individual who believes we’re all connected via cosmic forces, or the one who rejects the concept of a God all-together.
The very simple fact is this – everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want, so long as they’re not harming anyone. It doesn’t make he or she strange or absurd.
The greatest example of courage is the conviction to stand up for what one believes in, despite the opposition of the majority. There’s a reason why the phrase ‘tyranny of the majority’ was coined!
The irony of this ‘majority’ is that although so many align with the notion of God’s none-existence, the western world continues to become more and more insular and fragmented by the second.
Despite Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, and so many other social media platforms, our generation continues to spiral down a vicious cycle of loneliness. The community, as we know it, is fast disappearing; and as a result, abject loneliness is fast becoming an unfortunate norm. Indeed, loneliness is now at such frightening levels in the UK, that the Prime Minister recently appointed the Honorable Member of Parliament for Chatham and Aylesford, Tracey Crouch, as the government’s Loneliness Minister.
So, what happened?
Quite simple – the central theme of Christianity is love. A selfless love for those around you – particularly demonstrated by a desire and ability to make the necessary sacrifice to spend time with people – be they family, friends, or people you don’t know.
The community spirit, as we know it, is fast disappearing. Rather, we’ve careered down a route of pseudo friendship and love, via Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, et al. But, so long as we don’t make the necessary effort to actually spend time with one another, is it real??
The title of this week’s message was inspired by a wonderful gentleman I met a few weeks ago. During our conversation, he pointed out that the more secular society becomes, the more likely loneliness will increase. Unfortunately, we’re now so used to doing everything on-line, be it chatting with friends, dating, or group hang-outs, that we very rarely take the time to enjoy real moments with those right-in-front of us. Hence, despite believing we’re now more connected than ever before, we are in-fact, far lonelier than we’ve ever been. And to make matters worse, that’s exactly how we like it – hence the title ‘Don’t Interrupt My Loneliness’.
Some of you in Nigeria / Africa, may be questioning the relevance of this message. I humbly and very lovingly suggest you think again. And to help you do so, I’ll ask you this simple question.
When was the last time you left church with an overwhelming feeling /belief that you’re dearly loved by those you fellowship with? Or better still, when was the last time you felt you were part of a loving community? Probably never, right?!!
The reason many may never experience such, is because ‘church’, as we know it these days, has become a place where people go to identify, or re-evaluate their formula for success – be-it making money, getting a promotion, or finding a wife / husband.
In other words, we go to church most times to ‘take, take, take’, as against ‘give’. When I say ‘give’, I’m not talking about money, but time, love, and kindness. However, it’s difficult to ‘give love’ if you haven’t experienced it.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15 vs 13, NLT
Our focus must always be on the gospel, as against rules, regulations, and all manner of formulas for success.
As you focus on the pure, and plain truth of God’s unconditional love, you’ll desire to love, and give (in time, not money) to others.
The more I dwell on the tragedy of the ‘missing gospel’, the more I recognise the plain and simple reason why so many marriages are falling apart. Jesus’s unconditional love for the church (you and I), is supposed to be the prime, and perfect example of how husbands and wives should love one another within marriage. But, so far as our focus is on rules, regulations, formulas, potential for success, and material wealth, as against the gospel, authentic and unconditional love don’t stand a chance. Considering the following missing ingredients – unconditional love, forgiveness, tolerance, patience, and selflessness, is it really such a wonder that so many marriages have broken down???
Focus on who you are in Christ, how dearly loved you are by God, and let Him (God) do the rest.
I’ll conclude with a personal experience that sums up how this works.
Whilst walking to the train station a few days ago, I asked the Holy Spirit the following question;
“You’re always telling me to forget about my problems / issues, and focus on how much you love me. But how? I don’t know how. How do I focus on how much you love me?”
“Very simple – just focus on Jesus on the cross. Picture him on the cross. Despite his torturous pain and grief, He’s looking at you with a loving smile that says “I’m doing this for you”.
Before long, I felt an overwhelming joy and peace inside me. In-fact, I’m fairly sure anyone who saw me on my way to the station that morning must have thought I was some kind of cheerful weirdo.
As I approached the train station, an old lady, walking in the opposite direction, pointed at my red shoes and said, “We certainly can’t miss those, can we!?”. In polite, if not slightly reluctant appreciation of her wit, I laughed accordingly, and attempted to proceed swiftly without any further undue interruption. But no, she wanted more! She wanted to chat!! Now, before proceeding further, I must point out that I can be very set in my ways, and as such like to do certain things only at appointed times. There’s a time for chatting with people, and this most definitely wasn’t one of them.
However, she really wanted to chat. And for some reason, I was very happy to do so.
During what was actually a very nice conversation, she told me how much she was looking forward to spring time, as she will be able to spend more time in her garden, and take more walks; hence, not feel so lonely. I was so moved, that I happily continued to speak with her for quite a while. After eventually parting, I couldn’t help but wonder who on earth it was that had been chatting with the old lady for so long. Was I really capable of doing such? And then the Holy Spirit said something I shall never forget;
“That’s what happens when you focus on my love for you. By doing so, you’re able to love people like I love you.”
We were created to be loved, and to love.
The foundation of love is Jesus Christ.