I was getting ready to go out on Saturday morning when our front doorbell rang. I opened the door to a young lady who greeted me and began to talk to me about “religious” issues. My heart sank – I was just on my way out to a friend’s wedding! But – she seemed very earnest. And I felt a tug to stay and talk for a while. I let her speak…and then she asked whether these religious issues interested me.
I scratched my head a bit. “I’m a Christian”, I responded, “so God is very much at the centre of life…I’m not so keen on religion tho. However – let me ask you something.”
She nodded expectantly.
I asked, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”
Without a blink she responded, “Well he is God’s son.” I nodded – “Yes…but what does that mean?” She began to look a bit puzzled now. “Well I guess it means…” She stopped. I volunteered an ending to her sentence. “You reckon it means that God created Jesus? He is created BY God?” She nodded. “Yes – that’s it”, she said.
“Okay – that’s interesting because my view of Jesus is completely different from yours. He’s God. He’s not created BY God.”
She nodded and without a thought she shot back, “Let me ask you then. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray…who did he teach them to pray to?” It was my turn to look puzzled now. However many times I engage with a Jehovah’s Witness…this bit always strikes me as incredible. I carried on.
“You are right. The Bible records that Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God the Father. But you know what else the Bible shows us? That Jesus himself RECEIVED worship…personally. More than that, the Bible’s overall presentation of God has always been that three persons exist. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” She looked at me incredulous. This bit in the conversation that always hits me hard. I’m gutted that the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach their poor people to ignore and deny such a central biblical doctrine as the Trinity.
I really felt for this young lady. I was glad I’d stopped to chat with her. My heart so wanted her to get who Jesus really is! I decided to leave her with a statement and a question.
“You know, based on what we read in scripture the early church wrestled with but ultimately agreed on Jesus identity. The Jesus I am describing to you – the one who points to the other members of the Trinity and receives worship also for himself – is the prevailing view. Yes it’s tough to wrap our heads around. It looks like what I am saying has mystified you. Let me ask you. If there was no mystery to God…if we understood everything there is to know about God…it wouldn’t make him much of a God. Would it?” She smiled and nodded. And as my time had gone – we said goodbye.
As I closed the door – my heart ached. It matters who we understand Jesus to be. Why? If Jesus is NOT God – then we are completely lost! Why do I say that?
The Bible explains what humanity’s main problem is. Actually it’s not poverty or petrol prices or religious terrorism. It is sin. We underestimate the extent of our problem.
“all people…are under the power of sin. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:9 – 23, NLT
Why is sin a problem? Because it ruins any connection we could have with God, it messes up our relationships with other people and it ultimately leads to our demise…physically, spiritually, completely.
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23, ESV
“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:2, NLT
We all limp along carrying this crippling sin problem. It leads to our demise and our isolation from the God who made us.
Only God himself can sort out this problem. It is too big an issue for anyone else to fix! And so the Bible tells the tale of God preparing the nation of Israel and then coming in person…Jesus Christ…to give all people…you and me a way out of our sinful rebellion against God. He came to Earth to forgive sins. Only God can do that job. Because at heart, sin is mankind’s direct rejection of God.
“Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.””, Luke 7:48, NLT
“For this is how God loved the world; He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NLT
That’s not me disagreeing with my friend at my front door. It’s the Bible I share with my Jehovah’s Witness friend (although her New World Translation has been slightly modified by un-scholarly people to trip her up in her understanding – outrageous!). It’s also the Church Fathers who studied under Jesus Disciples and led the first Christian Churches.
And then it struck me. It’s only valuable items that are counterfeited. People only go to the effort of creating fake 50 pound notes…because the real ones are so valuable. There’s no one in human history more valuable than the God-man Jesus Christ. Not to me…not to the writers of the Bible…not to all true Christians down thru history. No wonder there are counterfeit versions available to anyone who is unfortunate enough to accept them.