So... When I last wrote,
I postulated that maybe a person has to be open to the possibility that Jesus just might be the answer to actually gain access to the hidden, yet completely wide open mysteries of the gospel. Well, I did say that this might not be the case for everyone... and the more I thought about it, the more actual cases came to my mind of the opposite happening.
The most glaring example, of course, is St. Paul himself, who as "Saul of Tarsus" spent a few years going around harassing, arresting and just generally making life hell for Christ's followers. Until one fateful day when he was on his way to do some damage to Christians in Damascus... See, Jesus Himself knocked him to his knees, saying, in the vernacular, "What the hey, dude? Why you gotta be such a hater?" And that was all she wrote for Saul... He was Paul after that... Follower of Christ, planter of churches, writer of letters that go a long way in explaining the hope of our glory in Christ.
My point is that Paul was in no way open to the notion that Jesus was the Christ and that the Kingdom was at hand, but God somehow forced him to "get it." Why? I don't know. God did say that he had a job for him to do... Why him? Maybe he had some unique mix of talents and temperament that made him perfect for the job? He knew the Scriptures, could make arguments like the lawyer he was and was a real go-getter who didn't do things half way. Of course, God could have chosen him for much different reasons - cos He's like that. He sees things we don't see, knows things we don't know. It would be just like the God I'm familiar with to have chosen Paul for his weaknesses!
Then there was author C.S. Lewis, an academic and avid agnostic, if there is such a thing. I mean wouldn't that be a bit like yelling "I DON'T KNOW!!!"? Anyhoo, here's a quote right from Lewis' pen: "You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England..."
And there's author Josh McDowell: In college, when "Flanders" told him that the answer to the question was Jesus he said this: "Jesus Christ? ... I'm fed up with religion. I'm fed up with church. I'm fed up with the Bible." "Flanders" then challenged him to conduct some unrelentingly thorough research into the person and claims of Jesus Christ... which he did "mostly out of spite to prove them wrong." And, though his research led him to believe the gospel, he was reluctant to take hold of it. He didn't want to admit that he had been wrong, and he didn't want to not have fun. Just like me. He doesn't say what tipped him over the line, but he was, nonetheless, tipped.
Michaelangelo's The Conversion of Saint Paul
And what about that guy Lee Strobel? He was an investigative reporter / legal editor at the Chicago Tribune, when his wife converted to Christianity. Our atheistic boy Lee pitched a big fit and set about using his mad reporting skillz to disprove the resurrection, and therefore the claims of Christ. Since I'm using him as an example, I'm betting you can guess how THAT turned out!
The weird thing about all of these examples is that each of these guys became what you call a "Christian apologist." That's someone whose raison d'etre is to argue in favor of the validity of the gospel. Not, as you may suspect, someone who goes around apologizing for the crazy stuff Christians do, although we probably need some of those too...!
who "doth protest
Maybe there's something about being a tough nut to crack that makes a person want to crack other people's nuts? Wait, that didn't sound right... Maybe they're just so dang thankful that they have to spread it around... Maybe their thought processes were just so deliberate that they feel like they can lay it out for people. Or maybe they're like, "If a blowhard like me can be converted, anyone can! So here goes..." Or maybe it's just moving from atheist blowhard over to Christian blowhard?
Whatever the case, the fact remains that God took hold of these people who had the OPPOSITE of interest. Or maybe they, as Shakespeare would say of Hamlet's mama, "doth protest too much." That is, they just couldn't leave it alone – and like me, they made the "mistake" of engaging with the God of the universe...
The guys in U2 know about God's mysterious ways...
And that was the open door God came in through to grab them. Because, as U2 reminds us, He "moves in mysterious ways." That is, He CAN do anything, and He does things all kinds of ways, and He has His reasons... which I think have something to do with making "the riches of his glory known." This quote comes from Romans 9, which basically says, "God is God. Don't question it."
Well, it doesn't EXACTLY say that, but ... it kinda does... which goes totally against my natural tendencies. I mean, I got all kindsa questions and wonderings going through my scattered brain... and a lot more to say about this. But this post is already all kinds of unwieldy, so I'm splitting it in two parts... maybe even three! Like when I have to cut Bill's Minecraft videos in half to post them on Youtube...
Anyway... stay tuned for more... because this is really just the intro...
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