1,979 Years and 1 Day Ago…But, Who’s Counting?

The past seven days I’ve had a lot of “religiousosity” thrown at me.

First, I was being told that “not all who wander are lost.

Then, I was inspired to believe that there are “many paths” to God, or, better yet, God varies to each one of us.

Let me pause here and insert the following:

Yes, I know Christians, too, who hold their noses high in the air and reject, immediately, notions of an “inward enlightenment.”

Um, no. Prayer is dialogue WITH the living God, not TO.

Personally, while I disagree with teachings that suggest such, I make a whole-hearted intention to never raise my nose, bite my thumb (oh, yeah…I just went all Shakespeare on ya), or even reject such notions.  Instead, I find it far more beneficial to become inquisitive and just listen.  Maybe, this explains why I often find myself in the middle of “religious-debates.”

However, yesterday’s experience (Thursday) takes the cake…or the blue ribbon if you’re like me and don’t care much for dessert.

I was at work and found myself in the middle of a “religious-head-butting” of two co-workers.  On one side was the raised-as-a-Catholic-now-doesn’t-care-for-anything guy, and on the other side was the active and devot Jehovah’s Witness girl.

I entered and we nearly had all bases covered!

He was remarking on what was apparently the Pope’s most recent acknowledgement stating that this was the day (Thursday) that Jesus first instituted ‘The Church.”  Obviously, the Pope is referring to “The Lord’s Supper,”

Depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art have been undertaken by artistic masters for centuries, Leonardo da Vinci's late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy, being perhaps the best known example.

which, according to God’s Word, occurred at the end of the week beginning with Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  In the Catholic teaching, this provides the basis for the teachings on the Eucharist.  In short, this is the last meal Jesus shared with His apostles.  He presented a meal which signified His body which was to be broken for them, and His blood which was to be shed for them.  It was also during this time where He washed their feet showing that He came not to be served, but to serve.

To the Christian, in short, this prefaces the ultimate gift of salvation given to us, not by anything we’ve done, but unconditionally from our Lord.

My former-Catholic co-worker shared his recollection of the Pope’s story in a mocking-manner, and then my Jehovah’s Witness friend offered her version of the same story:

“Well, actually, tonight is the observation of ‘Memorial’ that we, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ regard as the time Jesus was tortured on the stake.”

For the first time, I’ll admit to being proud of a Jehovah’s Witness testimony of the Holy Scriptures.  Not, that I’m fond of her acceptance of an altered version of Jesus, my King, but I was proud of her willingness to step up against a staunch atheist.  Let’s consider for a moment, my own response:

______________

That’s right.  Nothing.  I just listened.  So, the point goes to the JW.

Now, I’m not particularly proud of that, but at the time I felt it was more important to just listen.  Perhaps, by being still, she will become more inclined to share her pattern of faith with me, and then maybe in dialogue she can become more familiar with the true living God?  Perhaps.

Then, again, perhaps I’m still gaining enough confidence to speak passionately about my Lord.

Nonetheless, what I found interesting was that despite the religious preference, both agreed that this weekend was a weekend of significance.  And, rightly so.

For, it is a fact that Christ was sent to Golgotha (Skull Place) and was crucified.  While, in the Roman courts, He was merely a man claiming to be God, and therefore, was sentenced to capital punishment, to the follower, He is the fulfillment of prophecy, the establishment of a new covenant, and our King.

Some prefer to criticize the Christian who acknowledges Jesus Christ as “King.”  One of my favorites comes from a writer over at asktheatheists.com who calls followers “foolish” for professing allegiance to a non-existant king.  Yet,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:18)

Clearly, God already prepared a statement for those individuals.  And, His “blog” was written first.

These same atheists have a hard time accepting the notion that the risen Lord was witnessed by over 500 people and challenge the Christian’s authenticity.  While the Christian is inclined to point to Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (“After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.” – 1 Corinthians 15:6), the non-believer quickly dismisses such a statement and points out the obvious:

You actually don’t have the eye-witness testimony of 500 people claiming to see the risen Lord.  What you have is the written testimony of ONE claiming that 500 also saw Him.

Admittedly, this is a good argument.  They’re right.  Paul is just one man, testifying to the account of 500 others.  What’s to stop me from claiming that I saw Elvis, and not only did I, but 500 of my facebook friends did too!?  However, they’re missing the obvious.

First of all, let’s not forget that the risen Lord not only presented Himself to believers, but to naysayers as well (a point conveniently forgotten).  But, aside from that, consider that Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth was written around 30 years AFTER Jesus’s resurrection, and he emphasized the validity of his statement by suggesting they go and ask them!  They’re alive still, go ask them!  Consider for a moment the likelihood of even 5 people agreeing on something, let alone, 30 years later!  I just got done sharing a story of dialogue between 3 who have strikingly different viewpoints on “Good Friday.”  Paul’s saying, not just me, or the twelve, or these other dudes, but by over 500 others, He has been presented!  

I’m brought to another argument, often the dialogue between a Jehovah’s Witness and a Christian, and that being the debate over Easter.  The JW will suggest Easter is of pagan origin, and therefore today’s ritual hijacks the intended (and true) story.  This is how they get your attention, because, for a moment, they’re right.  It’s true.  Easter is of pagan origin, and some over-sized rabbit dropping chocolate eggs in your front yard (kinda gross when you think about it) has nothing to do with the story of Christ and His gift of salvation.  However, this is just an act of deception, because from there they’ll begin to tell you that He didn’t die on a cross (which, is insulting), and finally, they’ll invite you to join them for their ‘observance of Memorial.’  This occasion will occur at night, and more than likely in the conference room of a well-known hotel in town.  At this occasion, they’ll ramble on about their belief pattern and eventually pass a cup and bread, but with a condition: you must be one of the 144,000 righteous to partake in the Lord’s cup and body.

Wait!  Only 144,000 are considered righteous?

I’ll admit to fantasizing about being in that setting, with my t-shirt, spiky hair, and tattoos, and standing as the cup and bread are passed to me proclaiming, “thank God I’m forgiven!  Thank you, Lord, for remembering me!”  After drinking the juice and chomping on the bread, I can only imagine the looks of horror I’d receive, for which, I would hope at that point I would have the opportunity to share with them how God’s kingdom is big enough for us all.  That it is, in fact, God’s desire that none shall perish!

I’d probably be inclined to bring up the indisputable testimony of the thief on the cross next to Jesus who simply (and humbly) asked that the Lord to remember him in His kingdom.  To which, Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

BAM!  Salvation!  Just like that!

He didn’t need an ample amount of time on the clock in service for Jesus.

He didn’t need to drink the cup, or eat the bread.

He didn’t even need to go to church.

BUT, he needed to SURRENDER IT ALL!  He casted ALL HIS TRUST upon the Lord, and the Lord saved him.

Have you?  Have you casted everything upon the cross of salvation?

What’s needed?  Just a willing heart.

Don’t know enough verses in the Bible?  That’s ok.  The thief didn’t recite one verse.  He simply asked.

Ask God this today:

Lord, I am a sinner.  I know I’ve done wrong, and therefore, I know I am not deserving of your mercy.  However, I know you died for me.  You took my place on the cross.  You stepped in and paid a price I couldn’t pay, and that was the payment for my sin.  It’s because of you that I can step into the presence of God, and I so appreciate you for doing so.  Lord, like the thief that hung next to you, I cast my trust and faith into your loving, pierced hands.  Lord, work in me so that you may be glorified all of my days and teach me how to live for you.  Remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Look, it’s not whether you know Biblical accuracy.  It’s not how well you can recite scripture.  It’s not whether you practice pagan traditions, or totally reject them.  It’s about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal King.  Your savior, and your redeemer.

And, the best part is, a life filled by the King, is life indeed!

May you find peace in the Lord, today!

Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

(Isaiah 12:3)

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