How many times have you thrown out things you believe are no longer relevant to your life or failed to really understand a person who has passed away, and then lived to regret the loss? Regret is a horrible feeling made worse with the realisation you can never recover what was once held dear to you. Many of you will have walked away from a belief in Jesus without ever really knowing who He is.
It was a miracle that the Western world was first attracted to and then took into itself a Middle Eastern religion that was at the time, nearly two thousand years ago, entirely new. Christianity was at odds with almost everything that defined the world into which it made its home. It was a world filled with god’s and religions. The Greeks were the most sophisticated people on the Earth at this time. The intelligentsia, because they loved discussing and debating were open to hearing new ideas. However accepting one god as being dominant over the others, including their own pantheon of gods with Zeus at its head was another matter altogether. St Paul was clearly struck by the sheer diversity of gods in Athens; multi faith was welcomed up to a point which is why they had an altar to a unknown god, just in case they had somehow overlooked an important divinity. It is the nature of philosophy to take an interest in novel ideas and the Greeks majored on philosophy. The problem with people of this mindset is that while discussion may be welcomed, making a life changing choice to follow one god to the exclusion of all others was not part of the game. So when Paul stood upon Mars Hill, the site of the Areopagus near the Acropolis in Athens and made his pitch, their response was probably typical: interested but sceptical. My hope is that even if you are sceptical your interest will have been aroused.
We live in a Post Christian society which means this faith is seen by many as irrelevant, out of date, dull, worn out and no longer of interest. A little like Samson following the loss of his extraordinary strength, the church today has become a shadow of its former self. A little over two thousand years ago the Christian faith was a powerhouse, and one of its leading lights was the apostle Paul. Famously at Mars Hill in Athens Paul began speaking to a people who had never before heard the gospel message. Athens was filled with images of their gods and Paul had noticed among them the statue to the unknown god. He chose to base his pitch to the Athenians on this deity without history or name. Paul’s proclamation was of a God far above all others, a God who would make all the philosophies of the Greeks redundant. He was an orator with a message that could, if accepted do to the sophisticates of Athens what Samson did to the Philistines: bring the temple crashing down on their heads and bury all their suppositions under the ensuing rubble. That is what Christianity did to the Roman Empire. The Gospel has that power, and however pitiable its present condition appears it is still undiminished in its authority. Nothing has changed other than one thing. We, unlike the Athenians are not listening at all. The message I am giving you is that the power and authority of the gospel is no less today than it was in the ages during which the Western world became believers in the God made man Jesus Christ. Our present weakness is down to lack of faith in the Word of God, both the scriptures and its Lord, who is Jesus. We Christians have grown weak and compromised and if God does not seem present among us then it is unsurprising. Without faith we cannot please God or do anything pleasing to him in his name. Rather than blame our largely secular and pagan society we Christians ought to apologise to those who see nothing of value to attract them to Jesus. Christianity is intended to be a light set on a hill, like a lighthouse. The fact that we are not such a light to the world is a shame and a disgrace, and I am no better than the rest. It is my hope and intention and prayer to become a better witness to my God. I hope this blog site will contribute to following that call on my life, which is to witness to my faith.
Jesus Christ is real, he lived in history, he died as described, he rose from the dead as eye witnesses testified and he lives in the hearts of those that believe.