Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Take a Moment and Wonder

2013 New Testament Challenge – Day 11 (Reflections on Acts 16-28)
Every year I participate in a special effort called the New Testament Challenge sponsored by a priest of the Orthodox Church in America. He encourages Christians to spend the Christmas Fast, also known as Advent) reading the entire New Testament as a preparation for Christmas. Each year I have done this, it has been blessing to me and I pray this year will be no different. As part of the New Testament Challenge, I endeavor to blog a bit about the reading for that particular day. I may miss a few, but I pray for those who follow this blog (NOW ALSO ON FACEBOOK) it will be a blessing.

Have you ever wondered how so many witnesses to Jesus and the early Church miracles could have refused to believe in Him and join the Church? I have. Have you ever wondered what it would take for the entire world to believe in Jesus and join the Church? I think I have. Have you ever wondered why YOU believed and joined (or remained in) the Church? I have.

Reading the closing chapters of Acts, and hearing of the back-and-forth of prison-release-prison-trial-attempted release-prison-death, it occurred to me that I have been Orthodox all my life and, save a few moments as a teenager when I asked, “What if it’s not all true,” I have never really doubted my faith in Jesus Christ. I haven’t always been the most “faithful attendee” while I was in college, but my faith has never really been challenged. So today I wondered why…

Taken at face value, the stories of Jesus and the early Church sound fascinating at first and doubtful if forced to comply with our miniscule understanding of the universe. People have many times challenged me to prove the veracity of the Bible, and I have always said, I didn’t have to prove it. It wasn’t a cop-out; rather it was what I felt in my heart. As long as I believe it, that works for me. But I also know that doesn’t work for everyone. If it did I’m sure Acts would have been written a bit different.

The Book of Acts, among other benefits, provides a glimpse into the heart and soul of the early Church. Apostles not seeing eye-to-eye; believing Jews not seeing eye-to-eye with non-believing Jews; “insider” Jews not wanting “outsider” Gentiles to have the same benefit of membership (so-to-speak) as themselves. And we haven’t YET gotten into Saint Paul’s pastoral letters yet to the Churches and certain leaders.

So I really shouldn’t be surprised today when I see so much turmoil and confusion among those who believe in Jesus Christ. I absolutely believe, and teach as objective history, that the Orthodox Christian Church is the original Christian Church, but I shouldn’t be surprised when other Churches claim to understand Jesus Christ differently. There is most defiantly historical precedence for that.

Are there other ways to understand Jesus Christ? I suppose there might be, but this one saying has kept me Orthodox this long….

“Good enough for the Apostles who walked and talked and ate and slept with Jesus, then good enough for me!”

Until tomorrow….take a moment and wonder why. I hope this will help with the answer.

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