Sunday, April 16, 2006

I'm not really a Christian, but I did see one on TV once

“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau wrote this on an essay on non violent civil disobedience that inspired a certain lawyer in South Africa about a 100 years later. This lawyer, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, took this to heart and went on to become the father of my nation.

Being resurrection Sunday, my meditation took me to the time right after Pentecost in Acts 5. The freshly anointed apostles had already been in jail once for preaching about Jesus, had then been sprung out of jail by an angel, got caught again for talking about this Jesus and now are in front of the Jewish authorities who decide not to throw them in jail but order then never to say Jesus' name in public.

We live in a world warped by the influence of sin. The Devil has put in systems in place which ensure that it becomes very unpleasant for anyone to open their mouth and talk about Jesus. In some countries, he has made it illegal, punishable by death, and in others, he has made it culturally irrelevant where people have heard of this Jesus and it is nothing new to them. They do not know the power behind the name. How can they?

The very people who are supposed to be called to demonstrate this power sit passively thinking only about what God can do for us and not what we can do for the one who purchased us with his very own blood.

The truth is that Jesus us the only way, the only truth and the only access to eternal life with our father in heaven. We can't apply the six degrees of separation theory to this.

This means that people are going to perish unless they get a chance to know him. As Paul said, how can they believe in the one of who they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

The fact is that we live in a culture which makes us feel bad or which make us a criminal if we say that the 'unsaved' who does not know Jesus is bound for hell. However unpleasant that may sound, that simply is the truth. This was the message the apostles preached in Acts and nearly all of them ended up in jail for that.

“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison”

I am not saying that we all have a Jail house ministry. In the sentence above, substitute the word government with society and then think about what is more unjust than not being given the freedom to speak about a solution that can save people from to eternal death, the freedom to execute that which we have been commissioned to do. Prison need not mean just behind bars, but it could mean anything from that to being a social outcast or not being invited to the neighbor's BBQ.

If prison is where such people belong according to the law of this land, then are why am I trying so hard to stay out? Who I am conforming to and trying so hard to please? Whose law, written or unwritten, am I trying to adhere to by being socially acceptable? Who am I trying not to offend by not talking about the consequences of denying Jesus?

To me that is like saying “I'm not really a Christian, but I did see one on TV. once”.

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