For the last six months, we’ve had a resident at one of our elderly houses (as of last week, I now have a full-time managerial position for the non-profit organization helping low-income disabled seniors) give a weekly meeting he calls “God Talk.” Both young (meaning staffers) and old (including some in their mid-80s) attend to discuss their beliefs on the matter of God and all that that includes.
In running into the group leader Tom, who recently earned a degree in theology from Loyola University, for a brief one-on-one conversation the other week, he said, “It’s funny how everybody wants to convert everyone else to their way of thinking, even when they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.”
I have a long-time friend through my church who is Jewish by blood but converted to Christianity more than 20 years ago and he tells me he still has Jewish family members and friends that try to “bring him back into the fold.” They are, at times, outright hostile to any of my friend’s efforts to try and give them the Gospel of the New Testament.
In an old Bible study on cassette I came across in my drive back from Ohio over the Easter holiday, Jordan mentions a Jewish evangelist who once wrote a craftily devised book giving several reasons why you should never become a Christian because Christianity is a pagan religion.
“Number one, he says they believe in human sacrifice,” explains Jordan in the tape. “What a terrible thing. ‘In Judaism, we just kill animals.’ The problem with using this argument is the Bible is negative toward human sacrifice. Jesus Christ isn’t a human sacrifice; He’s a divine sacrifice.
“Acts 20:28 talks about ‘the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.’ It wasn’t the blood of a mere human; it was the blood of God that Christ shed at Calvary or it wouldn’t have done anybody any good.
“It was that once-and-for-all sacrifice made 2,000 years ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem, the hill of Golgotha, on the Cross of Calvary, when Jesus Christ made the one complete total sacrifice at one appointed time for all men. It has timeless value because it wasn’t a human sacrifice; it was a divine one. So he missed that point.
“The guy’s other big argument is Jesus Christ is called in the Bible ‘the image of God,’ so ‘Christianity really is idolatry—we worship an idol.’ When I read that, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really crafty!’ It’s to misunderstand the idea of an image.
“An image is a representation, but it’s not an idol. It’s not some little piece of stone or some rusty thing. It’s a person in whom God dwells to manifest God. When God made Adam, He said, ‘Let’s make man in our own image and in our likeness.’ Was God making an idol? No, He was making a representative. He was making someone in whom He could put His life, His will, His ideas, His thinking, and then let them go out and represent Him before creation.
“Literally, what God clothed Adam and Eve in was ‘the coat of many colors.’ Only one other person in the universe had that coat and that was God Himself. So, when all the other creatures saw God in His coat of many colors, and then they saw Adam and Eve in their coat of many colors, they realized these people were all connected. One of the things you do when you want to identify people together is you dress them the same.
“God literally put a uniform on Adam and Eve to identify them as His representatives in the earth and that’s the image idea. They are His spokesmen in the earth. They represent Him. It’s not an idol at all.
“You weren’t to fall down and worship a piece of stone, or a piece of tin or something. You worshipped God, but they worshipped Him through the representative He gave in the earth to do that.
“Well, Jesus Christ is ‘the image of the invisible God.’ So when the guy says we worship an idol, well, we do worship the image of God, but it’s not a lifeless stone idol, or tin idol, or wood idol made of our own hands—it’s the living person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“When Christ became a man is what Col. 2:9 9 is talking about. It says, ‘For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ For such a stupendous event, the question would then be, ‘Why did He do that?’ There are a myriad of reasons but I’ll give you a few.
“God became a man in order to fulfill prophecy. ‘He sent forth His Son in the fullness of time.’ There was a point in time where God said He was going to come. There were prophecies about the coming Messiah. About God becoming flesh. For example, Jeremiah 23:5: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.’
“In other words, the Messiah was literally going to be the son of David; the Son of Man was literally going to be God in human flesh.”
(Editor’s Note: To be continued . . . )