Standing upon the bible is a divisive act, even more so in Samoa, an outwardly Christian country but one in which the biblical absolutes are often twisted to fit into the Samoan culture or what people want to believe.
In this Sermon from Samoa, I share about the key divisive issue of all time – that called ‘the divinity of Christ’ and the only cause of rejection that I know there is.
A friend recently mentioned that he believed the idea that there are many ways to God. He couldn’t give any logical reason for this however. This may be seem an attractive idea pandering to our own naturally self-centric feelings, or the common New Age thought, but the words of Christ slice through this paradigm when He claims a non-inclusive absolute:
… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John, the writer of these words quotes Jesus directly. He is not alone in his sentiments. Many other writers of scripture claimed that Christ was the Messiah, thus precluding all other prophets before and since from having the same status that Jesus has – Son of God. Accepting this as truth labels us as a Christian and thus by its very nature is a divisive act.
John, one of the disciples, had the heart closest to Christ, chosen to relay the very important book of Revelation, but also to suffer for his faith as many others did too. His close relationship with Christ flows through his writing, extracting truths and understanding much more than others did. When others tended to simply hear and relay His words (as more of backpacker-type talk about the here and now physical world), John showed sensitivity to the deeper issues that Jesus was often raising with the people.
Reading the book of John is a very good start to a walk of Christian faith.
The key question of all time is the same for all of us, “Who is this man Jesus?” Some of us come to recognition that He is the Messiah in our lifetime – sadly others no doubt afterwards. I have found that listening to Him and trusting Him is the wisest path. Nowhere else in many decades of research and study have I found truth and love in equal measure, than upon the cross of Christ.
Christianity is a thinking man’s religion. The biblical world view is the only one that I can see that truly makes sense – from the nature of God, Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the person and achievements of Christ to His own role in planet earth . . . nothing else gels for me in the same way.
The process of coming to Christ is different for all of us, but the principle remains the same, that we must humble ourselves and accept His words and wisdom as greater than our own. I have found only the bible to be the truth. Many other religious books contain aspects of truth, but the biggest revelation of my life was that truth is more than an abstract – it is in fact a person, and specifically for me, a relationship with Jesus, of course unlocked and maintained by faith.
I have only ever observed one hindrance to this recognition – human pride.
Pride performs an intercepting role in the originally natural relationship between Creator and the creation. It messes it up, and whether we like it or not brings the distance that we all experience.
The concept of human pride is a Catch 22 situation. Our pride prevents pride from being seen. It is impossible to dig out pride entirely for when we succeed in unravelling some, we naturally take credit for that discovery and thus only find more.
Pride underpins our twin pillars of fear and pain, thus leading to anti-social, ungodly or self-destructive behaviour.
I caution here against relying 100% upon our internal conscience, for while the conscience can be used by God, it can also be seared by our responses to experiences (hate, cognitive dissonance, grief), our surroundings (such as culture or peer pressure) and through our own sinful nature (the heart is forever deceitful). Seeking an external source of wisdom may feel like an abdication of responsibility but to this the bible has plentiful resource of wisdom, as Solomon advised in Proverbs 3:5:
(KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
(KJV+) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
(LITV) Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.
(NET) Trust12 in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
(YLT) Trust unto Jehovah with all thy heart, And unto thine own understanding lean not.
Of course, if God is good and the bible is true and Christ is the Son of God who died for us to re-establish that broken relationship, then our faith is wise.
I’ve found that the Christian walk is that of a restored relationship that in fact creates a magic environment – one in which when we ‘go thin’ or ‘humble ourselves’ (‘submit to a higher Authority’), we become free from the self-centric approach to life. This neutralises the cause of so much pain and grief, and enables us to truly be who we were originally meant to be in His power. Just as submitting to the laws of the land permits us to conduct our lives within the country of domicile, so too does this apply in the Kingdom of God. When we do what He wants, He resources, supports, guides and encourages us.
Creating an environment in our household founded upon faith in Christ (the bible) is simple and wise. Easy? Perhaps not. Wise? Most certainly. As you stand up in the fullness of all the Christ makes of you, others around you (your wife, children, family and friends) will all have the same issues to deal with and this may be costly or challenging, but I have found from more than three decades of faithful living it that the rewards are real, good and multi-faceted, and that the alternatives are costly foolishness.
A good woman will also support her husband in his walk of faith as she in turn submits to his leadership. While she has her own relationship with the Creator, she too will receive the protection and opportunity that comes from a man’s submission to a higher Authority.
There are unlimited reasons to justify our own thinking when we are challenged over issues of Christian faith. There is literally no end to them but for each of us, but when challenged with what is called the question of the ‘Divinity of Christ’ we must choose. It is an individual binary decision, like drawing a line in the sand that means that that there is one clearly identifiable point in time, when an individual comes to the recognition that Christ speaks the truth when he says that words that John wrote above, or the alternative – that He was wrong when He spoke them.
This point of decision is variously called the moment of salvation, the conversion, being born anew, or born again. My advice is to step forward and make that decision, one way or the other.
Our more observant guests recognise that people seem to only do what they have to here in Samoa. Leaders tend to instruct others too. I’ve previously noted that Samoan boys seem to lack ‘hope, meaning and purpose’. This is actually a universal cry but is much more obvious here in Samoa. A close walking relationship with Jesus is the solution to these issues and they are just some of the many rewards inherent with a living Christian walk.
Oh, for purity of faith in Samoa and recognition that the plentiful words and acts of religion here be seen for what they are – the very sorts of religious activities that Christ sought to free us from!
Nice chatting again!