“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ravi Zacharias: “Level your scrutiny at the person of Christ”

A story from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man Live Without God?:

May I take the liberty of making a personal suggestion here? As discomforting as it is to admit, much of what the church has had to face by way of criticism has been deserved. Much wrong has been perpetrated in the name of Christ. In many parts of the world today the church has a poor name, and a look back at her track record in those settings often reveals valid reasons for that contempt. But this may also be falsely seen as all-encompassing, because the deviants often get more attention than do the normal. In our day, much of what is offered on Christian television programming leaves not only the skeptic bemused but also many Christians embarrassed. Those who have used the name of Christ for personal gain will stand accountable before God. But I point you not to them or to any man; rather, I point you to the person of Jesus Christ. Look at who He is and who He claims to be.”

There is a magnificent story in Marie Chapian’s book Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy. The book told of the sufferings of the true church in Yugoslavia where so much wrong has been perpetrated by the politicized ecclesiastical hierarchy. That which has gone on in the name of Christ for the enriching and empowering of corrupt church officials has been a terrible affront to decency.

One day an evangelist by the name of Jakov arrived in a certain village. He commiserated with an elderly man named Cimmerman on the tragedies he had experienced and talked to him of the love of Christ. Cimmerman abruptly interrupted Jakov and told him that he wished to have nothing to do with Christianity. He reminded Jakov of the dreadful history of the church in his town, a history replete with plundering, exploiting, and indeed with killing innocent people. “My own nephew was killed by them,” he said and angrily rebuffed any effort on Jakov’s part to talk about Christ. “They wear those elaborate coats and caps and crosses,” he said, “signifying a heavenly commission, but their evil designs and lives I cannot ignore.”

Jakov, looking for an occasion to get Cimmerman to change his line of thinking, said, “Cimmerman, can I ask you a question? Suppose I were to steal your coat, put it on, and break into a bank. Suppose further that the police sighted me running in the distance but could not catch up with me. One clue, however, put them onto your track; they recognized your coat. What would you say to them if they came to your house and accused you of breaking into the bank?”

“I would deny it,” said Cimmerman.

“‘Ah, but we saw your coat,’ they would say,” retorted Jakov. This analogy quite annoyed Cimmerman, who ordered Jakov to leave his home.

Jakov continued to return to the village periodically just to befriend Cimmerman, encourage him, and share the love of Christ, with him. Finally one day Cimmerman asked, “How does one become a Christian?” and Jakov taught him the simple steps of repentance for sin and of trust in the work of Jesus Christ and gently pointed him to the Shepherd of his soul. Cimmerman bent his knee on the soil with his head bowed and surrendered his life to Christ. As he rose to his feet, wiping his tears, he embraced Jakov and said, “Thank you for being in my life.” And then he pointed to the heavens and whispered, “You wear His coat very well.

Do yourself a favor and get your eyes off the shortcomings of institutions, people, and history’s dark spots. Level your scrutiny at the person of Christ, and you will see the One who wears His Father’s coat very well.

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