By Allen Moyer
I love good theatre. When it’s written and performed well, the audience benefits greatly from experiencing new insights into the “human condition.” In fact, when I study scripture, I try to imagine the drama in the characters, circumstances and context of what I’m reading. Imagine a modern day drama that involves someone like you and me.
Setting: A modern day big city skyscraper. A man (or woman) enters the elevator, call him/her “Witness”. Visible on Witness’ forehead are the following words: “Follower of Jesus Christ”. Another person, call him/her “Curious”, enters the elevator and the doors close, beginning the slow rise to the top of the building. In the next few moments the following scene plays out.
Curious: Hi. (Curious notices Witness’ forehead)
Curious: So, I see you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, Why?
Witness: Well, for several reasons actually. First, followers of Jesus belong completely to God – we are CREATED IN HIS IMAGE, special and separate from the rest of His creation, and there’s great hope in that knowledge. You see GOD HAS NO EQUAL and there exists no suitable substitute for Him, like idol worship or our own pride. And you know, God teaches us that we are to love Him and our neighbor. (pause for effect) BUT THERE’S A PROBLEM (prompting Curious to ask)
Curious: What’s the problem?
Witness: Well, SIN BLOCKS US from obeying God and none of us is perfect and righteous. GOD’S LAW validates our sinfulness and our inability to obey Him. It’s a mirror into which we find it very hard to look. (Witness takes a step toward Curious) Here’s the harsh reality though: Our lawlessness and our disobedience will not go unpunished! (Witness pauses for effect) Now WHAT DO WE DO? Because the holiness of God cannot tolerate sin.
Curious: (Tries to break the seriousness of what’s been said, and is a bit curious) So, what do we do to fix it?
Witness: (Solemnly) Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to change our situation. Only God can change it by his choice. THROUGH GRACE GOD ACTS so that we are saved from bearing that punishment.
Witness: Only ONE that is FULLY HUMAN like us, and FULLY DIVINE like God could satisfy God’s wrath and our punishment, (with emphasis) and that’s JESUS CHRIST! He’s the only possible ransom for us. He’s a man without sin.
Curious: How did you come to know all this about Jesus?
Witness: THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US to belief, faith and obedience; and He transforms the body, mind and soul; and consequently we put on Christ and live in Christ. When others see us in action, they should see Christ. You see WE ARE JUSTIFIED and declared righteous THROUGH FAITH, not works. Good works will flow out of a transformed, spirit-led life.
Curious: Tell me more about this spirit-led life.
Witness: Well PRAYER is the way you pour out your heart to God, steadfast and never-ending. And SCRIPTURE, the Holy Bible, is our code; and it holds the key. The Bible can be understood, but not completely comprehended. And the SACRAMENTS, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are reminders of God’s divine acts on our behalf.
Curious: So you go to church, right?
Witness: Yes, the CHURCH is God’s elect COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS united to act on God’s behalf. (The elevator comes to a stop at the top floor and the doors open. Curious goes to leave, but hesitates and looks back at Witness)
Curious: What do you hope comes from being a follower of Jesus?
Witness: Our hope is in HEAVEN – ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. (Witness pauses and looks intently at Curious, and finally breaks into a warm smile)
What could be better?
If you are familiar with the New City Catechism, portions of which have begun to appear in our Sunday bulletin, then you will recognize its basic truths in this drama.
You see, 1 Peter 3:15 is very clear about one of our key responsibilities as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ. “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
Want to know more about this subject? R.C. Sproul has written a book called, ‘Everyone’s a Theologian’ that’s a solid read. Also, this month’s Ligonier Ministries Tabletalk devotional magazine is focused on how to answer this and other questions from the curious ones that cross our path. Check it out.
While it might be easier for a pastor, due to training and preparation to answer the question: ‘Why are you a follower of Jesus?’, it seems clear to me, that 1 Peter 3:15 is challenging all believers to boldly step up and provide a reasoned and loving response.
We don’t know how the drama above ends. Does Curious ultimately come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Providing a witness to others about the hope we have in Jesus is like planting a seed. Growth and ultimate fruitfulness is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but led by the Spirit, we can be a catalyst for God’s salvation simply by planting the seed.
What are your thoughts? I’d appreciate hearing from you on this subject. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.