Monday, October 19, 2015
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” ― C.S. Lewis
I’m sure all of you are familiar with “Hydriotaphia” by Sir Thomas Browne. Just to refresh your memory, he had turned up some old Roman urns as he redid his gardens and it got him to thinking about how easy it was to believe in Jesus when He was alive and you could go hear Him or see Him. Sir Thomas thought how much harder and therefore better to believe when you could not see, touch, or feel and relied on faith alone. Sir Thomas is, of course, expanding on John 20:29 “ . . . blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” I was once on a camping safari and because I could not plug in my CPAP machine, I didn’t try to sleep but sat up in the car all night watching the animals that wandered into and out of our campsite. We got small scavengers and a hyena that picked up a huge metal trash can in its mouth and trotted off with it. Around three in the morning, some movement near the car caught my attention, and I was quite surprised to see a leopard sniffing around. He or she did a couple of circles around the car and then with paws on the side of the door peered in the window at me. I have never been that close to a leopard before or since. I am happy to say I did not have to change my pants, but I did think about taking a picture to prove what I had seen. However, the glass in the window would have reflected the flash back into the camera, and if I rolled the window down . . . I could get a good picture perhaps right before the leopard leaped into the car and killed me. So the window stayed up. I was sure the tracks and paw prints on the car would back up my story, so the camera stayed in its bag. Naturally, we got a two-hour monsoon-like rain between four A.M. and dawn which washed away all traces of the leopard. People would either believe me or they wouldn’t. Some did, some didn’t. The event did remind me that believing when you have not seen takes faith--especially in the one recounting the story. It makes the incredible growth of Christianity even harder to believe since Christ was no longer here and only lived in the hearts of His followers. The reason we believe is due to the sincerity of those who tell us of their experience with the living Christ. There are those who believed me about the leopard because I had never lied to them and they knew me to be a man of integrity, but it was my reputation that counted. So it is with those we want to bring to Christ. If we are not living knowing His love and living the life He so wants us to live, no one will ever believe us. Oh, maybe for a while. There are always con men and fakers that have the ability to make you believe, but there were those “false teachers” even in Jesus’ day, and He warned us about them. If you are an authentic Christian, it is probably because you have seen the Bible lived by people you admire and respect. Usually not church leaders, but simple, honest, loving people who follow Christ, love others, forgive, and have the glow of the Holy Spirit within them. I know you know such people and may be among them yourselves. It is only by being true to the love of Christ, having the ability to forgive, and to understand what it truly means to take up your cross and follow Him that sets you apart. It is easy to say you saw a leopard, it is quite another to have people believe you. It is how you live and love that carries your message and that of the Prince of Peace. May you have the courage and strength to do just that. I did see that leopard. I do follow Christ.