Thursday, 30 September 2010

How can you know? You have not been there!

So I am currently watching through season 4 of House (yes I am behind) and was watching this episode where a guy tried to almost kill himself in order to get a taste of the afterlife without actually dying. House thinks the guy is a moron (which I have to say I do to - although for different reasons) because there is no such thing as an afterlife. Wilson responds to this by asking the question 'How can you be so sure there isn't anything after this. You haven't been there'. House responds by saying 'I don't have to go to Detroit to know it smells'. Wilson thinks this is a facile argument and they depart.

As a Christian I was watching this discussion with interest and here are my thoughts.
You don't have to go to Detroit to know it smells but you do have to have some information about it. You have to be getting some information from someone who has actually been there otherwise how would you actually know? If you have no contact with anyone who's actually been to Detroit then how could you know? If House is so adamant that there is no afterlife then he can't get information from someone who's actually been there and so his reasoning is always going to be fallible.
However, Wilson's answer is equally infuriating because all he is promoting is a 'we can't know for sure' attitude. If that is the case then who gives a monkey's whether it's there or not? If we can't know. If we don't have enough information then it can't really impact our lives.

The Biblical answer to this question is that there is an after life and we can know about it because someone has been there and told us about it. That person is Jesus Christ. So I don't believe every nut job who says they saw lights etc. But I do believe that at a point in history God came to earth and told us, not that Detroit smells, but that the afterlife is real and that we need to get ready for it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

What would God say to Raoul Moat?

I have been reading the accounts of the murders committed by Raoul Moat and the manhunt which followed and decided to do a talk on what God would say to him. You see we all like to think about what we would say to God but actually what God would say to us is much more important.

At the end of the manhunt (which lasted almost a week) Raoul Moat was faced with two options. Kill himself or spend the rest of his life in jail. He decided he did not want to spend the rest of his life in jail and so killed himself. Whether it was that he couldn't live with what he'd done or merely with the consequences of what he'd done he decided to escape it by killing himself.

The first thing I think God would say to Raoul Moat is therefore that he can't run away from what he's done. God says that one day he will judge the living and the dead and so even suicide cannot get you out of answering for what you've done with the life God gave you. Raoul Moat will have to answer for the lives he took and the people he hurt and I will have to answer for the crimes I have committed and the people I have hurt. Raoul Moat wanted to avoid this but even death can't get you out of it.

This is why forgiveness is the centrepiece of Christianity. Because none of us are perfect and we cannot escape having to answer for the bad things we've done the only hope we possibly have is forgiveness. We cannot run away so we must cry out to God for forgiveness. The amazing message of the gospel is that because of Jesus death in our place that forgiveness is guaranteed for all who ask.

Jesus died next to a criminal who found forgiveness there as he was dying. Raoul Moat could have found the same forgiveness and so can I. All we need to do is stop thinking we can get away with it. Stop thinking we can escape the consequences and ask!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How we deal with Jesus Part 3

O.K. so some people want to lead and they want Jesus to follow. Some people like having Jesus around but don't want any real relationship but Jesus himself repeatedly calls people to follow him. The question is what does it mean to follow Jesus?

Well although this might need some unpacking today for many of the people Jesus said it to it was relatively straightforward. They just left whatever they were doing and followed him. They learned from him, became friends with him, served him, loved him and many of them died for him. However, as we look around the church today we may be surprised at how far it has moved from this model. For no-one Jesus met did following merely mean something intellectual. They all actually did follow.

So the really bizarre thing is that our churches seem to be full of people who say they follow Jesus without actually doing anything. They intellectually assent to a number of beliefs however they do not seem to have left what they were doing to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is always about leaving one life and beginning another. So why do so many people seem able to say they follow Jesus without giving any time to him, without learning from him, without obeying him, without sacrificing anything for him and ultimately without doing anything which demonstrates any love for him. Surely the act of following Jesus has to involve some act of following not just a set of things we say we believe.

So as we think about how we relate to Jesus perhaps the biggest question is not do we say are following him but are we actually following him. Read a gospel and just look at the things those who followed him did and then look at your life and see how you measure up. It's an honour, a joy and a privilege to follow Jesus. It gives you hope, it gives you relationship and it gives you not only a new way of doing life but a new life entirely. It's an amazing thing to do but just saying that you are following him does not necessarily mean you are. As they say in the bronx 'The proof of the pudding is in it's eating'.
(O.K. they probably don't say that in the bronx - but they should. It's a very useful phrase!)