it’s a bit like the stories we grew up hearing in a way. the story of Christ and the Good News, that is. i fear that, as adults, many put the Gospel in the same boat as all of those other stories children are told.
we’re raised to believe that an overweight man with flowing gray hair and beard travels around the globe each year (by way of a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer no less), delivering gifts to those children who had behaved their parents. we’re raised to believe that a woman with wings would enter our room each night we lose a tooth, taking with her the recently removed tooth and leaving in its place a sum of money. and some of us, some of us were raised to believe that there once lived a Man, a Man who never made a mistake of any sort and yet who faced terrible punishment, in our place. punishment to the death, in fact. and that after being placed in a tomb, He came back to life. and that it was because of this Man and His death and resurrection that those of us who believe the story get to spend eternity with Him in heaven after we die.
they’re all nice stories – the latter infinitely ‘nicer’ than the former two. yet, somewhere along the lines we come to find out that they’re not true. we come to find out (likely from one of the kids at our school) that the jolly old man known as santa claus is actually our parents (or parent), frantically working to put gifts under the tree and fill our stockings without us noticing. we come to find out that the generous winged-woman affectionately known as the tooth fairy is actually, again, our parents, nabbing our old teeth from under our pillow. and, somewhere along the path of life, someone tells us that this story of a Man who was both man and God, and who (as the story goes) defeated death for us so that we could spend life after death with God in the goodness of Heaven was also just a fable to give us hope. and, after being tricked so many times before with fables of our youth, it is not difficult to discard the story of Jesus as well. thrown aside as a remnant of our naive, youthful imagination.
the one story we ought to believe
but what if it’s not?
what if this is the one story we should believe?
what if this is the one story we grew up believing that we truly ought to put our entire hope in?
not only that, but what if it is the one story we are raised on that we must believe?
j.i. packer, an author who i’ve received great insights from, had this to say:
“it is like a fairy story-the reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them-but, praise God, it is not a fairy story: it is hard and solid fact, founded on the bedrock of free and sovereign grace.” (knowing God, 196)
Jesus once rebuked a group of men, telling them that they must become like children if they desired to see heaven. these were professed followers of Jesus, not hypocritical pharisees, not those completely ambivalent toward Jesus, but professed followers, and they were told that their faith must become like that of children.
but some of us cannot do that. some of us simply will not stand to have their faith in something so good and so pure taken from them again. to feel like a fool for putting their hope in something, only to look foolish for believing in a myth. they’ve been through it before, and it’s no fun. this story of Jesus seems just as fanciful as the last (if not more so). so why bother?
to that i would say this: the benefits outweigh the costs. infinitely so.
am i saying it costs little to nothing to follow Christ? no. in fact, it will cost you everything. He said so. but it’s worth it. this one, this time, it’s worth everything you have. all your belief. all your trust. all your faith. all your love. all of us for all of Him. nothing more, nothing less. that’s what He promises. and He (and He alone) deserves it.
but you cannot see that until you give Him a chance. as it is said, “Taste and see that that the LORD is good…” the tasting must come before the seeing.