The other day I had a conversation with Jesus. Not Jesus the carpenter from Galilee, but Jesus the maintenance guy from Palm Beach, FL. He stopped by our home for a repair. His mother’s name is Mary and his brother is Joseph. I’m not making this stuff up. That’s really their names. I just wondered if he knew John, Paul or maybe Peter?
Somehow we got on the subject of religion and I asked Jesus if he knew Jesus (the one born in a manger). Why not ask, right? I know it’s a question some get uneasy with. But, no biggie. Plus, his name was Jesus, so he certainly knew of him. He answered, “There are too many religions in the world. How would I know which one is true?” Good question!
I wondered how many other people got to that question and just stayed there, not bothering to examine the truth claims of those religions and using common sense and the law of logic to narrow down the list.
So, I got to thinking of the different religions:
And those are just the top 10!
Well, I asked Jesus if he thought it was possible that only one of them could be right? He paused to think about my question. He replied, “If only one is right, how can so many people be wrong?” “Imagine you were in a math class”, I replied. “Imagine the professor gives out a very difficult math equation for the class to solve. Many people are going to get it wrong. Does that mean the correct answer does not exist?” Jesus nodded his head in agreement.
I asked Jesus, “Do you know what a Muslim believes he must do to enter heaven?” He followed, “If they do enough good things in life, then possibly they might enter heaven”. “Yes, possibly”, I said. “It’s still not guaranteed. Yes, that’s what Islam teaches. Now imagine you were accused of murder and sent before the judge to plead your case. What if you told the judge, ‘I’ve been a good husband to my wife. I treated my customers fairly. I gave money to the needy. I’ve even fed the hungry. Please, look at all the good I have done and find me innocent of this crime.’ I asked Jesus, “How do you think the judge will respond?” He responded, “Well, if I committed murder those excuses wouldn’t work. He might sentence me to death.” I replied, “Yes, the Judge would have to do that because he’s a righteous and fair judge. If he did anything less, he would not be a good judge.” Jesus (the maintenance guy) nodded his head at me.
I continued, “Did you know that Jesus (the carpenter) said “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer”? We have all hated someone, so that makes us murderers. The Bible even says that if you look at a woman lustfully you’ve committed adultery in your heart. If you stood before a judge, you would be found guilty. Me too. We are all guilty. But, Jesus (the carpenter) paid the penalty for our crimes so we could be free. What kind of god is Allah that when a Muslim gets to heaven god dismisses the life-long list of crimes because he also did good things? That is not justice. That is not a good judge. This is not a good God.”
Every other religion would have mankind try to reach up to God, but with the Christian faith God reaches down to humanity. In other words, “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son…” It was this sacrifice, God’s Son on the cross, that is the payment for our sins. It has nothing to do with our own merit. We can never be good enough to earn our way to heaven. This would not be a good judge. He must punish man for his sins, if He is good.
I could tell my maintenance friend was processing what I told him. Around that time I was grabbing a snack to eat. I asked, “I know you really like figs, but how about an apple?” I’m sure he’s heard all the jokes before, but he still laughed.
Then he made his next statement, “Maybe what is truth for them is not truth for you.” I said, “Did you know when Jesus stood before Pilate, the man who sentenced Him to the cross, he asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?’ Pilate couldn’t see it. Truth was standing right there, staring him in the face!”
Jesus (maintenance guy) replied, “I just don’t believe in absolute truth. I think it depends on who you are.” I asked, “If you became color-blind do you then stop believing in colors?” He looked at me. “Just because you don’t believe in absolute truth does not mean it doesn’t exist.” He continued, “I see your point, but truth is relative to what you want it to be.” I asked, “are you absolutely sure?”
He knew he was stuck, so he changed the question, “Well, maybe all these religions lead to the same place. Maybe that is the absolute truth.”
I was impressed by the depth of this guy’s questions.
By this time Jesus and I were standing on the back porch. I continued, “Islam and Judaism claim that Jesus is not God, whereas Christianity claims He is. One of the core laws of logic is the law of non-contradiction, which says something cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time. When we apply this law to the claims of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity it means that one is right and the other two are wrong. Jesus cannot be both God and not God. When you get this, it topples the whole “true for you but not for me” mindset.”
The only response I got was, “hmm”, but I knew he was listening.
“Jesus, let’s look at Buddhism”, I said. “There must be logical consistency within a religion so that it does not contradict itself in any way. The end goal of Buddhism is to rid oneself of all desires. Yet, don’t you need the desire to rid yourself of all desires? That’s a contradictory and illogical principle.”
“Yeah, I get your point”, Jesus replied. “But, how do we really know the Bible is true anyways?” I responded, “I can see why you’d feel that way considering what the world says about the Bible. Did you know that 11 out of the 12 disciples were murdered for their faith in Jesus?” He shook his head as to say, no. “They testified to have seen Jesus hang and die on the cross and then 3 days later he rose from the dead and appeared to them. He spent another 40 days with them, preaching to the masses, before ascending to heaven. These disciples spent the rest of their lives telling everyone about this Savior. The disciples went to their death claiming they had seen Jesus in action and that He had come back from the dead. They were ultimately murdered for their belief. Why would they just make this up? Why would you die for something you don’t believe in?”
I’m still not getting much response from Jesus, but at least he’s listening.
Peter seems to anticipate the reluctance of people to believe and he writes: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-28)
Peter is basically saying, “Hey folks, I’m not making this stuff up. I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘This is my Son, Who I love; with him I am well pleased.’ Others heard it too.”
The truth remains to be the truth – it never changes. The problem is often the philosophical verbal gymnastics the world tries to confuse simple, common sense reasoning.
I told Jesus (maintenance guy), “Christianity sets the bar in terms of providing the proof to back up its claims. There is no other religion that does that. History, archeology and science consistently support the record of the Bible. There is no other religion on the planet that gives the mountain of evidence to support its claims.”
After literally hundreds of these conversations I sadly realize that believing is a matter of the will and no matter how much logical evidence you present, no matter how much you speak to the left-brain, where input is intelligently processed and analyzed, many will still choose what they believe to be their “own truth” – they become justified in their own eyes. There’s a difference between a religion and a revelation. If Jesus (the maintenance guy) is to know Jesus (His Savior), he needs a revelation. God provides the revelation of who He is through His word – the Bible.
I shared the Word with him: “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:2
By the end of our conversation, my friend Jesus (the mechanic) said he believed in Jesus (the carpenter). It was the Word that I shared with him that had the most impact of all.
So, why do people reject the truth that is Christ? John puts it very clear: “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” So, there it is. People reject Christ because they love their sin and they hate having it exposed by God’s light. But, “It’s the goodness of the Lord that brings men to salvation”. His goodness is His grace. When you experience His grace, you know His truth.
Jesus said (the carpenter), “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” – John 3:19
Don’t make it so complicated, folks. It’s not about what you give up, it’s about what you gain. The Lord will reveal Himself to you if you ask.
Just follow Him (the carpenter). Don’t follow the other Jesus. He was headed down to the local hardware store to pick up some parts.