What does the world say?
In recent years our society has dissected Christianity from everyday life. Our culture says that Christianity is just another religion, and all religion is irrelevant. Religion has no effect on daily life and we are masters of our own destiny. Our culture may accept and adopt certain moral values from Christianity, yet it leaves behind the necessity of a relationship with God.
This means that our culture has particular things to say about Jesus, who is at the centre of the Christian movement. People in our secular culture generally hold one of two positions regarding Jesus.
The first secular view is that Jesus existed as a man, but was just a moral teacher, not God. Within this view, many hold that Jesus’ teachings are outdated and have run their course. This view might suggest that we should pick and choose the teachings of Jesus as they suit us in our current era.
The second secular view is that Jesus is only one of many paths to God. This view says that all religions relate to the same god(s) in different ways, and no one way is wrong. With this understanding, spirituality should be encouraged and everyone should foster their own beliefs that ring true for them.
Finally, our culture is heavily influenced by pragmatic reasoning and analytical thought. It defines faith as being belief without evidence. Therefore, our secular culture often believes that faith in Jesus in accord with the bible is illogical. Modern reasoning understands the bible to be untrustworthy.
What does the Bible say?
The bible is wholly trustworthy as it is the inspired Word of God. It is useful for teaching, correcting and training in the ways of the Lord. [2Tim 3:16].
From the time of the fall in Genesis to this very day, every culture has been an anti-Christian culture in one form or another. The claim that ‘Jesus is not God’ is not new, in fact, it’s thousands of years old. The bible is an historical account which teaches that Jesus was an historical person, who shared humanity with us [Hebrews 2:14].
Jesus himself claims to be God. [John 10:30]. Some at the time saw the validity of this claim (Peter), some were unsure (brother James), and some did not (Pharisees).
Jesus claimed that he was able to forgive a person’s sin that leads to death. He claimed that he could give eternal life for anyone who trusts and follows Him. These claims ultimately led to a public rejection of Jesus and his death on the cross.
Jesus doesn’t command blind faith, in fact, those who God commissioned to write down the history of Jesus encouraged their first century readers to investigate the claims for themselves. They listed many names of people who were still alive at the time of writing.
Finally, the bible is explicit when it comes to Jesus’ desire to have a relationship with his people. Jesus showed his followers that to be in a relationship with him two things need to happen. The first, is the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The second, is to reject sin by setting out to follow his teachings.
What can we say?
The historical evidence of Jesus existing in the first century is inexcusable. There is little doubt amongst mainstream scholars that Jesus was a key historical figure.
The teachings of Jesus are just as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago, as they speak to the condition of the human heart which has not changed in all that time.
It’s often helpful to talk about our personal experiences as a Christian. If you’ve had a spectacular conversion or witnessed a miraculous event, then other people will often be inclined to listen. You might mention how Jesus has changed your outlook on life, your values or behaviour.
You could also talk about how Jesus makes the most sense of your day to day life. Among other things Jesus explains what true love is, what right and wrong is, why there is suffering in this world, what happens when we die, how to love those who mistreat us. Remember, that even Jesus encountered both people who believed, and people who doubted and rejected him. When we talk about our faith, we can expect the same responses.
We can tell people that they should investigate the claims of Jesus for themselves because it’s necessary to have an informed opinion about the man who has determined the last 2000 years of human history. We can show people that the most logical place to start that investigation is at the source of the claims, the Bible.
C.S. Lewis poses three possible outcomes of such an investigation. Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or is indeed the Lord. Lewis then asks: Is it plausible that those who personally knew him would die for his cause? Is it plausible, that a liar or lunatic would heavily influence western culture for almost 2000 years? In the eyes of Lewis, the only logical answer is that Jesus is Lord.
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