A few years ago Michael Drosnin’s book “The Bible Code” became an international best seller. What is the book about? Well, it seems that there is this secret code imbedded in the Bible that allows us to predict the future. To maintain his credibility with the non-religious Mr. Drosnin is careful to insist that he remains a confirmed atheist. And, lest anyone associate him with those wackos who believe the Bible is actually the Word of God, he is quick to assure us that there is another explanation for the existence of the code: super intelligent beings from outer space encoded their messages in the Bible (which they presumably wrote as well).
Drosnin’s explanation of the code is just one example of an all too familiar phenomenon we have seen for centuries: intelligent people clutching at absurd ideas in order to deny the obvious—the existence of God. When American astronomer Edwin Hubble proved that every galaxy within 100 million light years is speeding away from every other, many astronomers were up in arms because it was one more proof that forced them to recognize a created universe with a definite beginning. Robert Jastrow of NASA remarked, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason alone, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance (meaning religion); he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
It is not difficult to understand modern man’s resistance to God. People who have grown up on the “do your own thing” philosophy of life would be very uncomfortable with the thought that God may be watching over their shoulder. There was a young man who was taking a freshmen course at Yale University on the classics of Western literature. The entire presentation on the Bible dealt with theories of multiple authorship of all sections of the Bible (in other words, who you always thought wrote the Bible, didn’t. Other people wrote it at a later period.) The young man challenged the professor to explain why he didn’t treat other writings the same way, such as Homer’s “Iliad”. The answer was simple. Homer makes no demands upon its modern readers. The Bible, by contrast, insists that there is a divine standard by which we will all be judged. That was an idea which was far too dangerous for Yale University. -Adapted from an article in The Jerusalem Post
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass. It is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them. It is this fact that Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Christians have been called together as a community. We are not here simply to enjoy each other's company. We are not here solely to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives. Both of these are vital. But there is another vital purpose for our existence: to prepare ourselves to bear fruit in the community. That is why Jesus is indispensable to our mission. Without a personal link to the Vine, our fruit-bearing potential disappears and together we degenerate into a social club with a few good ideas but with no power to really help anyone. I meet people everywhere who have a great emptiness within them—a God-shaped emptiness. That is because they have consistently ignored their need for a relationship with the Vine and are literally starving to death. They desperately need what we represent and are being prepared to share with them, if we remain in Him!
Always remember this: Christ is the Vine; we are the branches. Our purpose is to bear fruit. We are not to lose heart when times get difficult. We are to offer those hard times to God and allow Him to use them as acts of pruning that we might bear even more fruit in the days ahead. Only He is the Judge of our fruit. A word of kindness, a deed of compassion, a faith shared—these may be judged the best fruit of all.
Many are trying to convince America that Christians should have no voice in the market place of ideas. Our insistence upon morality and righteousness in every area of the public scene is stepping hard upon many toes. One high government official used the platform of the Gay Games in New York to praise homosexuality and to accuse religious conservatives of “selling out their children in the name of religion.” We who champion traditional morality and believe in godliness are being made to sound like our beliefs have come from outer space (which, by the way, isn’t far from the truth). The question is, whose teachings really are dangerous? Who really has beliefs that are “off the wall.”?
For instance, what if George Washington were interviewed on Good Morning America and made his famous statement, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible, “ he would be labeled a crackpot. Or imagine the Supreme Court making a statement, as they did in 1891, that ‘Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teaching of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” What do you suppose the media would do with that?
Without an objective standard we’re never aware how far away we’ve moved. By the time the Old Testament king Josiah began to reign in Judah, many years of departure from the laws of God had already occurred. By accident a copy of the Law of God was discovered in the badly neglected temple and read before the king. He saw immediately how far his nation had strayed from the path of godliness. He replied: “Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”
That is our challenge concerning the next generation. To ignore divine direction is to ensure a slide leftward. Will our children sit in judgment upon us because we went along with the cultural drift for fear of appearing out of step? Or will they reply, in the words of the hymn, “Faith of our fathers, living faith, we will be true to thee till death?” That chapter has yet to be written, doesn’t it.
There was a time when my wife, Kathy, lived with almost non-stop migraines. At the time it seemed so commonplace to her that I had to ask if she was in pain. She didn’t always show it on her face. On the other hand, I am almost perpetually pain free. So when I get a little headache, everyone in the family knows about it. My guess is that continuous pain tends to raise the threshold of bearable discomfort. But I marvel at two facts: how common it was for the early church, and how much they accomplished in spite of it (or maybe because of it). It doesn’t take a prophet to predict that if the church is to be successful at penetrating the dominant pagan strongholds of our day it had better become accustomed to living with pain. We must cast aside the unrealistic view that real religion should always be convenient and non-threatening. The Christian point of view is rapidly being banished to the margins of public debate. While tolerance is the buzzword of the day it appears that its application is for everyone except Bible-believing Christians. I am not looking for sympathy here. I am only stating what the new Testament everywhere warns. We have come through and are now beyond the period in our country where Christian influence was tolerated and even respected. Now the Beast is baring his demonic fangs and growling “No more!” If all we want to do is talk to ourselves and encourage our fellow believers then we’ll be left pretty much alone. But to content ourselves with past gains and refuse to compete in the marketplace of ideas is to turn traitor. When things were coming loose at the seams and the Apostle Paul was being abused and kicked out of the local synagogues the Lord appeared to him in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid: keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” We would all do well to listen to those words. If we expect our people to reach non-Christians, it will not come without pain. So get used to it and praise God in the midst of it, for it is an indicator that we are moving in the right direction.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship