And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.
- John 17:3-5
Recently, a young man, whom I know well and know to be passionate about Jesus Christ, reached out to discuss a thorny topic in Scripture. He’d been talking to an agnostic friend who’d challenged him on some biblical issues that offend modern sensibilities. How do I answer those? If you’re reading this, then you likely have realized I never lack for either an opinion or words, and I duly shared both at great length whether he wanted them or not.
A couple of days later, I was still mulling over the issue – not so much specific passages from the Bible, but how to share the Gospel. How are we supposed to convince the world that this is true and that this not? How did the apostles convince people, since the Gospel was just as weird then as it is now? When the answer came to me, it was blindingly obvious.
They told others about a Man they knew – a Man they loved and trusted – Who led them and taught them from the Scriptures they thought knew so well. He told them that He had come from the Father and that He and the Father were one. He showed them Who He was in signs and wonders, making right what was wrong, though in much more than we think of as right and wrong in our moral failures. This Man they knew forgave sins, but He could also heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead, revealing the world as it ought to be, as it was created to be.
Most of all, most of all, He Himself was raised from the dead – not resuscitated, as He had shown the power to do – but raised in such life and light as to be almost unrecognizable. He was resurrected, and His Body was a Body that could not die again – no death, no disease, no flaw remained in His flesh – showing Himself to be the Human heir of His Father’s eternal Kingdom. This was the same Man they knew before – before He was crucified, back when He said and did the most astonishing and wonderful things while He looked like them and was alive in a regular body like our own, a body infected with the seeds of death from birth.
When the apostles shared the Good News with others, they were sharing truth, yes, but more. The apostles told others about the Man they knew, the Man Who had taught them and loved them, the Man Who shared His Father’s glory, Who was gloriously full of grace and truth. They knew the Man Who had defeated the powers of hell, destroyed death with life, and rose and promised more life to come.
If we are given the opportunity to share the Gospel with others, we must speak of the God we know personally. To be sure, I think we need to explore the great mysteries that surround the God revealed in Scripture, the God of life and purpose and meaning in truth, but more than anything else, we need to tell people of the Man we know. Quite literally, we need to be able to say, “Here, let me introduce you to the Word Who spoke and called creation into being, Who called you into being, Whose life is greater than death, and Who loves you with immeasurable and everlasting love.”
As tensions and divisions increase in our culture, whether political or social, we can and should defend the Gospel (which entails acceptance of Christ’s teaching ourselves), but of greater import is our ability to introduce to others the God Who spoke the whole of creation into being, then deigned to call us ‘friend.’ Arguing the Truth of Christ is never as powerful as offering the Person of Christ. In Him is all Truth, and because that is so, He is able to reveal Himself and teach truth as we are ready to learn.
Think of it like this… People have all sorts of arguments or proofs that they believe challenge Christian faith or cast doubts on what knowledge we think we possess. That was difficulty that instigated the conversation with the young man. Certainly, there is more to learn, new knowledge to expand our horizons, and still, so many things we do not really understand. But no one, no one, has the knowledge or power to destroy the communion between our Lord and us. No one can take away the life we receive when we know Him. No one can eradicate the joy of His presence in prayer and worship, for His life and light are more real than all that fades away and dies in darkness.
That is the Good News that we have to share. That is what the apostles traveled throughout the ancient world to share. The God Who is the life of every human being, the One Who spoke and brought forth all that is, the One Who imagined you before He formed you and gave you every ability and talent you have… That God wants you to know Him and to dwell in His love. The moment you enter His presence, you touch eternity, and it is given to you.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau