Friday, December 22, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Why I Believe....

So many songs about a baby who was born in a manger, wouldn't it be nice if it was true? That Baby Jesus really did exist and came to bring peace, we need some peace in this messed up world. Innocence is a lacking commodity, too...and truth, well, we've replaced that with drama.

Pondering the birth of a baby, I want to share my thoughts on why I believe, why I've bet the whole farm on the far-fetched story of a baby born to a virgin, long, long ago.

Why do I believe in Jesus? Why do I a 40-something adult still cling to a story that others have dismissed as easily as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?

Is it because I grew up in a “Christian” home and have spent countless hours becoming inchurchiated?

Fair question.

As a child I panicked at the idea that Jesus might come back and take my mom and dad and leave me behind. So it seemed logical that I should do what it took to go with them should the rapture occur. And honestly, it’s a no-brainer, heaven or hell? I’ll pick heaven. Fate sealed, life taken care of.

But then, as I grew-up, survived the teen years, got married, began raising my children, dealing with mortgages, insurance, dentists and the ravages of sin, I faced another menu of choices.

For awhile I chose to step away from the church. Because I felt unworthy to even wear the name of Christ, I shed Him, as if I changed my clothes. Life as a modern woman, as defined by Cosmo, beckoned. The church had disillusioned me.

Deep down though, I hoped that Jesus would maybe recognize me as the little girl who had rededicated her life to Him a thousand times.

No religious guilt for me, just an honest relationship where I refused to pray for help or guidance because I couldn’t muster the gratitude to thank Him for giving me my breath or children or roof over my head. No guilt, true, but hollowness leeched into my soul.

Then the growing babies in my care began to ask questions about the deeper things of life, like what happens when we die. I then looked at the church as an educator for them. We’d go every once in awhile. Kind of like childhood immunizations. Satisfied that I took care of securing their souls, I continued to live as I had been, embracing life.

Who knew that what I embraced wasn’t life at all but slow death by poisoning?

One night, after the same old fight over the same old thing where Rob spoke unintelligible words and accused me of the same, I gave up. I told God I was through doing it my way and asked Him to teach me His.

He steered me back to Jesus.

Jesus freaks people out. He did 2,000ish years ago and still does today. Most preachers don’t spend a lot of time preaching on Jesus’ words because they are too simple and too costly. But Jesus boiled it all down for us. Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, strength and heart and your neighbor as yourself.

Love and brutal honesty were His trademark and expectation for those who followed Him. He enraged the religious. He spoke in stories and examples and He embraced the ugly and sin-sick.
C.S. Lewis pointed out (paraphrased) that Jesus either spoke the truth and is who He claimed to be, was a liar, or a lunatic along the lines of a man who might claim to be a poached egg.

Sometimes I find myself getting discouraged. I hate the games that are played in religious circles. I chafe at those who are selfish or mean yet call themselves followers of Christ. I’ve even pondered giving up, questioned if Jesus really is the ONLY way, truth and life.

But the strange thing is that when I get there, I picture a scenario that happened a long time ago. Jesus plunged into unpopularity. He’d been feeding and loving the people and then He introduced the concept of their commitment to Him. Too hard, too much, too painful, the people left.

His disciples stood near Him. I imagine they had the sour taste of disappointment in their mouths. Would a few have been angry? What a stupid thing to do in the middle of a flourishing ministry. Jesus asked the disciples. “Are you going to leave Me, too?”

Peter, who was prone to passionate outbursts, spoke. “Where else can we go? You have the words of life.”

I have to agree. I’ve looked under rocks, in buildings, Googled, searched, studied and have found nothing else that offers the words of life. Instead, I’ve unearthed a whole lot of nicely wrapped death.

That is why I believe in Jesus. Not religion. Not what other people tell me about Jesus. But Jesus Himself.

I believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Promised One, the Messiah, born to a virgin. I believe He lived without sin and became my Passover lamb and my scapegoat on a cross. I believe He died, was sealed in a tomb and that He rose again. His words fill me, because He is the Word and He has placed a part of Himself into me, just like God did when Mary’s womb was filled. I believe Jesus will return for me as He promised. I believe I will see Him on His white horse and on His thigh will be written King of kings and Lord of lords.

What else can I believe? He has the words of life. He is the Word of Life.

Merry CHRISTmas. May you come to know the Prince of Peace intimately......