(And we recommend the book if disappointments in life and God have accumulated to such an extent that you are at a crisis point in your faith and are left asking "Why God?"
Yancey's discussion explores the emotional, intellectual, theological and scientific aspects of faith, and the second half of the book wrestles with the Book of Job. Yancey is both respectful and transparently honest with his own struggle.)
But to those who have passed through that struggle, or have yet to go through a "dark night of the soul" we'd like to challenge you with the part of the book that challenged us most this week:
"Who are you, Lord?" asked Saul at last, knocked flat on the ground.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," came the reply.
That sentence summarizes as well as anything the change brought about by the Holy Spirit. Jesus had been executed months before. It was the Christians Saul was after, not Jesus. But Jesus, alive again informed Saul that those people were in fact his own body. What hurt them, hurt Him. It was a lesson the apostle Paul would never forget.
I must not leave this thought without applying its meaning in a most personal way. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit has great significance for the underlying questions of [being disappointed with God]. My friend Richard [who has lost his faith in God] had asked, "Where is God? Show me. I want to see him." Surely at least part of the answer to his question is this: If you want to see God, then look at the people who belong to him - they are his "bodies." They are the body of Christ.
"His disciples will have to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior," said Nietzsche to a such a challenge. But maybe Richard could find a saint, someone like Mother Teresa, to embody the qualities of love and grace, maybe then he would believe. There - see her? That is what God is like. She is doing the work of God.
Richard does not know Mother Theresa, but he does know me. And that is the most humbling aspect of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Richard will never hear a voice from a whirlwind that drowns out all questions [like Job]. He will never likely get a personal glimpse of God in his life.
He will only see me.
As a Christian, you are likely to be the only Jesus someone sees or meets. Yancey's ultimate point that as the "body" of Christ, God chose to rely on the church to represent Him, instead of speaking from a cloud or a pillar of fire like He did with the Israelites in the desert.
In fact, God's reliance on the church almost guarantees that disappointment with God will be permanent and epidemic...God's plan includes risk on both sides. For us, it means risking our independence by committing to follow an invisible God who requires of us faith and obedience. For God, it means risking that we may never grow up; it means risking that we may never love him. Evidently, He thought it a gamble worth taking.
We added the photo of Tebow as the "Risen Jesus" because it illustrates two points. First, this past week, we had to ask ourselves when people see us do they think of Christ? And do they think well of us both? When people find out you are a Christian, are they interested to know more about you, and your faith, or are they repelled? Or do the people you know even know if you are a Christian?
And, second, don't worry, we don't think Tebow is Jesus. Nor do we think he should be "worshiped." A look through our archives will demonstrate that we have a long complaint with him being called "perfect" for a variety of reasons.
But our point in posting the photo is this; when people who know you mock you, is your being "Christ-like" the thing they notice first and foremost? If someone wants to make a caricature of you, is their first thought to photoshop your head on Jesus' body because you fed the hungry, visited prisoners in jail, cared for orphans, and were kind to strangers? If not, consider Jesus' words in Matthew 25:
"Then the king will say to those on his left, 'Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn't give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't take care of me.' "They, too, will ask, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn't help you?' "He will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.' "These people will go away into eternal punishment, but those with God's approval will go into eternal life."
Be the one. Be one of the few that is not ashamed to be mistaken for being like Jesus. Be the one who makes the face of Jesus a pleasant one, a welcome one.
And if you want an opportunity to provide for those in need. Please continue reading below, or click here.
(And to the unnamed person who challenged us to be more, thank you.)