Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why believe in Jesus?

This evening my Aunt Delores passed away. I had talked to her 2 weeks ago, when I heard that her cancer had returned. She was expected to live up to 5 more years. There was no sense of urgency, although we knew she was already uncomfortable. Chuck and I had planned to go see her next month. No one knew it would be this fast.

Which leads me to what I want to blog about. I had planned on talking to her face-to-face, to see where she stood spiritually. Obviously, that's not going to happen. Of course, I keep wondering why I didn't just do it on the phone that day? (other than the fact that I had the three boys alone, so any conversation would have to be short. Phone calls and kids don't mix in my house.) But this has me thinking, and I'm sorry that this is deeper and maybe not as happy as most posts... What if it were you, my dear friend/family member? If you read this blog, to my knowledge, you're probably related to me, or are a friend I care about. Basically, I'm asking you what I wanted to ask Aunt Delores: "Where do you stand spiritually?"

I don't want this to sound like a manipulation, "you never know how quickly your time may come" plea. If you aren't sure if you know Jesus, I'm not going to try to sell Him to you. And I'm not going to condemn you, either. I don't think He'd like that very much. But the truth is, we often think we have plenty of time to settle the matter, when we just don't know...

Why believe in Jesus? Why become a Christian?

First of all, let me say this: Don't come to Jesus just because you're afraid of going to Hell and want some fire insurance. God knows your heart, He knows if you're sincerely following Him or just using Him.

And don't be afraid to ask God the hard questions: "Why'd You allow hard times in my life? Why do You allow bad things to happen to good people? Where were You when..." etc. I'm not saying that the answer is one you'll like, but He will answer. My aunt and I had talked a few times about God's justice and mercy, and how they work together. It was hard for her to see why she should forgive certain people who'd hurt her, and didn't think God was being fair by forgiving them when they asked. She felt some sort of retribution should be carried out. My answer was "all of us will give an account for our deeds, although it may not mean hell, it won't be comfortable."

And when you have those questions, search until you find the answer. You can find those answers in His Word, the Bible. If you know a Christian who studies the Bible, ask them to help you. There are online resources like, too.

So, if you're still with me, and you've asked those questions and sought the answers, here's the question you need to ask yourself: "What does the cross of Jesus and the resurrection mean? Why is it important, how is it more than just an event in history?"

The funny thing is, you can find a lot of that answers in I Corinthians 15 - which I've been studying lately in my ladies' Bible study. I think it was God's timing that I was reviewing it - that I might tell you about it today. It says that the Good News is this: Jesus died, was buried, and was raised.

I Corinthians 15:21-22
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

And so, the point is, sin entered thru the first man, Adam. We're all sinners. I think most of us have no problem admitting that. That sin separated Adam, and us as well, from having a relationship with God, from communing with Him. God introduced a system called "atonement." People could sacrifice an innocent lamb with the idea of putting their sin on the lamb, thus a debt was paid for awhile. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, came to earth, born of a virgin, so as to not be from Adam's sinful seed. He then lived a sinless life so that He could be that perfect sacrifice. When He died on the cross, our sin was being paid for forever. And then, 3 days later, He rose again, which proves that those who trust in Him will also rise again. If Aunt Delores knew Jesus, we haven't seen the last of her. And that's my great hope...for her and for you.

How do you tap into that? The Bible says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord (master)' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

I know that's a lot to digest. Let me sum it up with my own story.

When I would read the Bible growing up, it didn't make much sense to me. In fact, it was dry reading, and a little boring. I believed there was a God, and that He loved me, but I was also afraid He was going to get me for sinning. I figured He was justified in doing so, since He's holy and awesome in the true sense of the word. I had hoped I would be good enough to get into Heaven. But then one day it all became real to me. I realized that the Bible was true, I could believe it. I realized that Jesus was a real man, and really God, and loved me enough to die in my place. I prayed for the first time believing that I was being heard, not just hoping. I told God I wanted to be forgiven for my sin, and wanted Him to be in control of my life.

Then strange things started to happen. At first it was little things, like I no longer wanted to cuss or lie. And I was no longer afraid of the dark or scary movies. And when I read the Bible, it actually made sense and was exciting. And thus it began: I began to see God working in my life, from the inside out. I'm still not the reflection of His character that I want to be, and that I know He wants me to be, but I know I'm growing closer to that goal. And much like my relationship with Chuck, I'm learning more about Him and His character, and falling more in love and deeper respect of Him with each passing year. I've seen Him provide for me, protect me, confront me, teach me, hold me, and lead me.

But let me put this disclaimer on this message: Trusting Jesus means that He will never leave you. It means that He will work in your life (are you ready to be changed? It's not always easy or fun, but it's oh so worth it.). It does not mean that life will get easier. It does not mean that your circumstances will magically improve. You won't wake up tomorrow perfectly healthy with a big bank account. But you may wake up with more joy that you've ever known. In fact, C.S. Lewis talks about how he was "surprised by joy," when he came to know Jesus. It does not mean that your boss will give you a promotion or your mother-in-law will stop mistreating you. But it may mean you have a peace that passes understanding. When things don't make sense, you'll still be able to rest instead of worry, knowing that God's in control, and He's on your side. If God is for us, who can be against us?

And someday, when I breathe my last, as my aunt did today, may you rejoice that we have been given this great gift from God: eternal life. I may not know until then if my aunt chose to follow Jesus, but I know that God is faithful and did not want her to perish. I just hope she searched for the truth and found it...and I hope you do, too.

<a href="" title="Mammy&#x27;s flowers (Psalms 103:15-17) by Chuck &amp; Angie Thier, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="386" alt="Mammy&#x27;s flowers (Psalms 103:15-17)"></a>


Scott said...

So sorry to hear Angie. My condolences to you and yours.

Mells said...

Wow... your words are so wholesome and real. I am sorry about Aunt Dolores.
God is working in you and through you and it SHINES. Your maturity is so inspiring.
God bless you.
Love, Melony

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. I know the sorrow that comes with the uncertainty of a family member’s salvation.

I thought of this verse today “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” I Corinthians 15:19. I think the struggle most of us have is that we try to live for this silly world and not the world we were made for (for me it turns into self pity...hello old friend.)

Great post my friend; I’m so sorry for circumstances that lead to it.

(And thanks for your sweet comments! I’m slowing learning this blogger gig..hence the deleted comment above..mad spelling errors..ack!)

Many blessings to your beautiful family!

Melisse said...

What a beautiful testimony to your faith and your love of others~just like Christ.
I do know what it is like to lose a loved one that did not experience the saving knowledge of Christ. It has been the hardest thing I've ever had to bear.
If we all felt that way about the lost, I wonder how many of us would continue to keep that knowlege to ourselves? And yet, at times it seems the hardest thing to share...
Bless you, Angie, for having the courage to share.

So sorry for your loss.