Well the good news is that everything you see, experience, know, hear, feel - it's all a very broken picture of what is supposed to be. How's that good news you say? It's good news because there is a plan for restoration. You know, getting it back to where it is supposed to be.
What's the plan?
The plan is Jesus Christ. What?! Yup. That's right.
OK, so who is Jesus?
Good question. Jesus is God in the flesh - God incarnate. He is the Creator become part of His own creation. He is the Eternal One, the Self Existent One, The Great I AM, Yahweh (aka Jehovah). He is the Messiah - the Annointed One.
OK, enough with all the titles!
Jesus was born to a virgin some 2000 years ago and walked the earth as a human being. But he had a dual nature - he was both God and man. The New Testament tells us that he "emptied himself" (greek - "kenosis") of his divine attributes so that he could live as man. He didn't stop being God, but he set aside his divinity - most of the time - so that he could live life as a man with a very specific purpose:
- The greatest purpose of Christ was to reveal God to man by being God in the flesh, and then to consummate the ultimate expression of God's love for man by dying at the cross to pay the price for sin that man owes to God. By paying this debt that man could never repay, Christ opened the door for man to have true relationship with God and to have the promise of eternal life with Him.
- The book of Hebrews in the Bible also describes that part of the purpose of Christ's coming to earth as a man was so that he could be tempted in all ways as we are, so that he can be a perfect mediator between God and man. Because he knows our sufferings, our temptations, our weaknesses, he can empathize with what we go through.
- Christ also came to live His life as an example, so that we may follow it. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." This speaks to the fact that following Christ is to lay down your own life and embrace the way of obedience to God, and the path of suffering. But the promise is that if you lay down your own life, you will truly find it.
Hello - I'm from (*insert your very progressive and modern culture here). We don't speak Christianese. What does all this stuff mean to me in a practical way?
Well for starters, you have to acknowledge there is something in life greater than yourself. And then you need to know that something is God. All things beautiful, all things true and wonderful - they all point to something greater.
When you look over the ocean standing from the beach, watching the sun and the clouds glow a golden orange...
Or when you see a graphical representation of the universe with its stars that make our sun looks like a grain of sand, and the millions of galaxies that stretch across an almost limitless expanse...
When you see your child, or a friend, or a lover and your heart fills with joy and love...
All of these things are intended to wake us up to the reality that there is far more than just what we see and our lives carry a much higher purpose than just our own happiness and comfort. These things are meant to point us to the one who has made all things - the Creator.
In the Bible, Acts 17:22-32 (ESV)
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
"'In him we live and move and have our being';
as even some of your own poets have said,
"'For we are indeed his offspring.'
Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
According to Paul, God has even predetermined where and when in all of history you would be born just for the purpose that you would find God! In another translation it reads, "in hope that they might grope for him". The idea is that God is near us and He wants us simply to reach out to Him. When we do we will find Him right.
And there's the rub.
The Scripture tells us that if we are to find God, we must seek Him. We must have the humility to reach out to Him. Remember, HE is God. He does not need us, nor owe us anything. It is our responsibility - it is YOUR responsibility - to reach out to Him. He has already done everything that He can to make it possible for us to know Him by paving the way of reconciliation in Jesus Christ. And Scripture even shows us not only that, but He has even determined when and where you should exist in the hope that being alive in that place at that point in time would push you toward Him.
I have seen and heard so many people with the attitude that "if God exists and wants to know me, he has to prove himself to me." Do you get the arrogance of that statement? Why should God prove Himself to you if you are unwilling to be humble enough to believe in Him? Do you get that we are the ones who were the Creation, and He is the Creator? Your thinking is fundamentally flawed if you really believe that the Creator has an obligation to prove Himself to the Creation. In fact, the opposite is quite true. The Creation has obligation to prove itself to The Creator.
There is a day of judgment for each of, where all of Creation will give account to The Creator. If you know the Creator, you should have nothing to fear.
So how do I know Him?
Through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." God has ordained Jesus Christ as the great mediator between God and man. If you place your faith in Jesus Christ, in His work of redemption and resurrection you will have life that never ends (i.e. after death) and are already free from judgement.
So what do I do now?
- Believe (=trust) in him.
- Pray. Talk to him. (He hears)
- Read a Bible. (KJV, NIV, ESV - just read one. They're all translated from another language anyway. I like the New King James just because I've had it a long time.)
- Build relationships with others who follow him. Become part of a community of Christians.