The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but must endure God’s wrath. (New Revised Standard Version)
I, personally, have found Jesus to be precisely whom he claims to be.
I was raised in the church. But it didn’t stick. The most boring hour of every week for me was having to endure the Sunday morning worship service. It seemed like a major waste of my time. I could be reading the funnies (the comic strips in the Sunday morning newspaper), watching TV, or playing outside. I get a weekend off from school and I have to do this! Sheesh.
There is, I eventually discovered, often a difference between what we humans do in our lives and our institutions, and Jesus. That’s not necessarily a knock on the church. It’s just the observation that we sinful folk very often fall short of the glory of God – which is why we need Jesus in the first place.
We as people know how to love, yet we love imperfectly. We understand that kindness and compassion are needed, but we tend to withhold it from so many of our fellow humans. Jesus, on the other hand, as the divine/human figure who straddles between both heaven and earth, always loves consistently and perfectly; and demonstrates compassionate kindness in ways which connect deeply with us.
It took me a while to see this, but by God’s grace, I mercifully came to experience the love of God in Christ and the powerful enablement of God’s Spirit.
I have come to accept Christ’s enduring testimony as gracious, truthful, and life-giving. I have wholeheartedly embraced the New Testament Gospel accounts of his birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension. This belief came neither quickly nor easily for me – it resulted from an honest straightforward reading of the Bible; and the patient wooing of the Holy Spirit.
Oh, I certainly could get quite cerebral and offer a Christian apologetic of the faith that gets down to the nitty gritty of theology, both historical and contemporary. But the older I get, the more I experience that when I get down, I can’t get back up again. There’s much more to Christianity than ideas and philosophical arguments.
Truth is, it really isn’t my job to convince you of Jesus Christ’s authenticity and trustworthiness. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it is my task to bear witness of the things I have seen and heard concerning Jesus.
My life has been thoroughly turned upside-down because of Jesus. With Jesus, I have been invited into the very life of God. By the wounds of Jesus, I have experienced healing of damaged emotions and recovery from spiritual hurts inflicted by others. Through union with Christ, I have grace and forgiveness of things I have done and left undone. With Jesus as my Friend, I enjoy loving attention and am never dismissed by him, nor do I ever have my experiences and feelings invalidated by him.
For those who have not read the Gospel accounts and refuse Christ, then, for honesty’s sake, please have the integrity to give Jesus a hearing before you dismiss him with a slight of hand. It’s one thing to genuinely not know much about Jesus, and it is quite another thing to ignore him when you have knowledge about how to find out about him.
For those of us who have read the New Testament Gospels and accept the testimony of Jesus, we come back again and again to his life-giving words and seek continually to follow him in his way of mercy, purity, and peace. We bear witness to how Jesus has changed our lives and offers a life worth living.
Everyone with faith in Jesus has a life-giving connection with God. Those who don’t, don’t. If you disagree with this, then contend with Jesus himself. Give him a hearing. Watch him in action. Observe how he deals with people. See if he lives up to his words. Then, bear witness to what you have seen and heard.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, I pray to you, the God and Father of all:
For empowerment by the Spirit, that I may be a faithful witness
For those who wait on You, that they may find renewal
For all people, that they may acknowledge the kingdom of the ascended Christ
For all who are struggling with broken relationships
I commend myself and all for whom I pray, to Your mercy and protection through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.