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Things aren’t right

I’ve been reading several different books recently, and a discussion with Becky last night brought a bunch of them together in a way that helped clarify my thoughts a bit. Hopefully I can bring some of that clarity into this post.

As a person who grew up within the church and has been a believer for as long as I can remember, one of the things that’s been most difficult for me to understand is this: why would a non-believer be motivated to become a Christian? What’s the appeal? Now, you Calvinists out there will tell me that God has ordained it and its irresistible. I don’t want to get into that argument. I don’t disagree with you… much. But I’ve just never understood the appeal of the message to non-believers who are living basic, normal lives.

Last night Becky and I were talking over the passage from Acts that had been part of our reading for the day. (I don’t want that to sound too much like we’ve got it all together – we’re trying once again to get daily devotions started, and it’s tough, as always.) Becky’s comment on Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was that it sounded wild, far-out, hard-to-believe… why would anybody be attracted to that story? It is a good question. Why would anybody be attracted to the story of a man who claimed to come from God, be God himself, who died, purportedly rose from the dead, etc? Qui bono? Who benefits?

That got me started thinking through some of the C. S. Lewis I’ve been reading lately. Actually, I’m reading The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life by Armand M. Nicholi Jr. This Harvard professor compares and contrasts the lives and teachings of C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. It’s a good book, especially for those seekers who want to reason through the issues. Mostly it whets my appetite to go back and read Lewis again, Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, God in the Dock… good stuff. Anyway, back to my thought process.

Readers of Mere Christianity will remember that Lewis’ starting point for reasoning that there is a God is an argument from conscience; he argues that each of us has an inborn moral compass that understands that there is a moral standard. Right along with that is the fact that each of us transgresses that moral standard on a regular basis, which causes us problems with our fellow man and internal guilt.

So what’s the appeal of the gospel message? I’m starting to think that I’d start it off like this: “Things aren’t right.” I think that’s a place we can all agree on to start. Things aren’t right in the world, and things aren’t right with me personally. This causes pain, grief, guilt, death. Now let’s look at the grand sweep of the redemptive story that runs from Genesis to Revelation. God creates everything. Man corrupts it. Things aren’t right. Now here’s the beauty of the message: the whole rest of the story is about God’s work to make things right again. That is the message of the gospel.

Once we understand that, then we can get into details. Sin requires a sacrifice. Jesus once for all became that sacrifice in our place, and then conquered death by rising from the dead. One day He will establish a perfect kingdom, one where sin is done away with and things are right.

Now that’s a story I can get excited about. And I can understand why that story would resonate with the unbelieving world. We all understand things aren’t right. May God allow those unbelievers around us to to understand that He holds the solution to the problem.

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  1. The very last sentence just may be my favorite. This post is a very interesting topic for believers to consider.. Way to go πŸ™‚ Im glad to hear the Hubbs’ Thanksgiving went well. πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful rest of the week.
    -Amber
    p.s.
    Awhile back you had posted about reading Ender’s Game, I read it this past summer and really liked it as well. : )

  2. Hey Amber, long time no see! How’s life treating you? We had a blast at Thanksgiving.

    You know you can comment on old posts if you want to… you just have to search back for them. πŸ™‚ Hey, I shouldn’t complain about your commenting, right? I haven’t commented on yours in forever. πŸ™‚

    ~Chris

  3. […] I wrote over a year ago that the place that makes sense for me to start the story is with this phrase: “Things aren’t right.” There is a statement we can all pretty much agree on. Yes, some hardcore types may want to argue that there is no “right”, so how can things not be right… but as C. S. Lewis argues in Mere Christianity, you only have to do something bad to that person to get them to start appealing to a universal moral standard. Then we can talk about why things are wrong, and how God has a plan to set them right again. […]

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