It is interesting how our perceptions of places, events, or ideas depend on our interests and the angles from which we look. There are many influencers on how we view life, ranging from family and social environments and cultural mores to the values we learn in our schools and churches and synagogues. These either haunt us or help us through life. Sometimes, we find reason to depart from them , but more commonly we tend to adhere to familiar, comfortable ideas and standards of behavior. Often, we just want “truth” to match up to what we want it to be and do not critically think through our beliefs. One of the characters in Richard Paul Evan’s novel, The Noel Letters, makes the statement that ”…you will discover that most people don’t want truth. They want confirmation.”
We all have opinions about truth, which means we have opinions about God. We may not have given Him much consideration, but our philosophy of life either includes or excludes Him. Secular humanism is a non-religious worldview in which humans determine the nature of truth and set individual values. This contrasts with the Christian worldview in which reality centers around God, who is the source of life and morality and to whom humans are responsible. That reality is expressed through the person, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who claimed to be Truth, God’s revelation to us.
Obviously these opposing views of reality treat certain facts and ideas from different perspectives and engender different philosophic outcomes. Unfortunately, hardcore advocates endeavor to confirm and justify their stances while fiercely discrediting contrasting views. That results in intellectual snobbery clashing with an intolerance for the folly of human wisdom even though scientific revelations and Scriptural revelations are not at odds with each other. It is what we have chosen to do with facts that has become adversarial. For example, even though the debate about the origins of man is contentious, science and Scripture both agree that humanity appears late in the development of the “animal kingdom” and is the crowning development or creation among living creatures. Beliefs on origins are essentially a matter of faith! The deal breaker is God and beliefs around whether life can be properly understood apart from Him or only with Him. This leads to questions about Jesus!
Each year as Christians prepare to celebrate Holy Week and Jesus’ bodily Resurrection, questions about Jesus are resurrected as well and vary from whether he actually existed to whether he is reality! Controversy always surrounded him. The crowds who heard him teach or saw his miracles had different takeaways; even the twelve disciples initially had different perspectives on who Jesus was. Some of us believe he was a good man who was a worthy, brilliant, Eastern teacher and philosopher and nothing more; others believe he is the living Savior of the world.
The important question is how each of us views him? Is he the delusional blasphemer and charlatan that the religious leaders of his day wanted to see? Or is he the redeemer that his followers believed and for whom they were persecuted and killed as they lived and proclaimed their faith. Did they create a delusion and then die for a lie? Do we agree with the Apostle Peter when he confessed to him, “Thou art the Christ”? Or do we reject him as an imposter as Judas did and value the material world more? Is Jesus some Christian myth, or does he have pertinence to your life and mine?
Our answers will lie in our view of humanity and whether we believe mankind can save itself through self improvement and doing good or whether we believe the experientially obvious fact that man’s nature is so broken that redemption is possible only if it comes from an external source.
If Jesus is not who he said he was, if he is not the resurrected Christ, then as the Apostle Paul said, Christians “… are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19) If he is who he said he was, then our soul’s eternal destiny depends on what he did for us on the cross, on God’s mercy and grace and transforming power of love and forgiveness.
Who is this man Jesus? He invites us to consider him when he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear. He who has eyes to see, let him see.” We really must decide.
We all have a view? What is yours?