by David Sisler
If you reject the claims of Jesus Christ for today and for eternity, what are your choices?
Choice number one -- there is no God. The man called Jesus Christ was another deluded fool, food for the worms. There is no afterlife. This is all there is. When the fat lady sings, it's really over. You are dead and gone, rotten and forgotten.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Choice number two -- a religion without Jesus.
One popular alternative is reincarnation. A psychiatrist who practices "past-lives therapy" hypnotized a patient who wondered why she was blind in one eye. She found herself back in 1943 throwing a bottle at her boyfriend. In the next scene she saw him wearing a black eye patch. "My higher self," she told the psychiatrist, "says I must learn to control myself in this life." The blind eye, she learned, was reincarnation's way of making things even.
Reincarnation will ultimately make things even when you no longer exist. If you live right, and make no mistakes, you may finally, after many, many re-births achieve total disillusion and free yourself from all existence.
Are you looking for body vitality, mental clarity and a perfect society? You might want to try the Arica Institute. Arica, or the Open Door, was started in 1971 by a Bolivian mystic, Oscar Ichazo. He told 54 Americans that he would lead them to "unity with emptiness." For $995 you, too, can join some 25,000 other seekers of "scientific mysticism." Part of your training requires that you meditate daily on different sections of your body. The liver requires 10 minutes and 45 seconds. If you are in a hurry, try the colon -- fewer than nine minutes are required. After 40 days of training you will uncover "Toham Kum Rah," a radiant being who, according to Mr. Ichazo, lives inside all of us.
George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Edison and William Butler Yeats were attracted to the Theosophical Society, a mix of religions founded by a Russian aristocrat, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Mrs. Blavatsky had two husbands, many lovers, was addicted to hashish, had a violent temper and could swear fluently in several languages. The motto of the worldwide religion she founded is: "There is no religion higher than truth."
Among the tenants of Theosophist truth is the teaching that the incarnation of Christ was insignificant since christs and saviors appear whenever humanity needs a new one. Furthermore, since man is god in the making, you must develop spiritual abilities through the use of contemporary occult practices. Success may come only after years of study, perhaps "lifetimes."
To these, and other Christless religions, I reply in Mrs. Blavatsky's native language, "Nyet spaseebo!" No thank you!
Historian H. G. Wells, who did not call himself a Christian, said that the chronicle of man centered "irresistibly around the life and character" of Jesus, history's "most significant man."
Regardless of the significance, or insignificance, which you may place on it, the birth of Jesus was so pivotal that history divides itself in half around it. Jesus deliberately and purposefully placed himself in that position. He declared that there is a God. He claimed to be sent from God. He announced that the way to reconciliation with God could be achieved only through him. What I think about him, and how I respond to him, he taught, will decide my eternal destiny.
How many times have we human beings looked at one another and pleaded, "If you only had some idea of how I feel"? Instinctively realizing that this is not all there is, we have demanded of God, "If you only had a small inkling of what I'm going through!"
Job indicted God, "do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?" In answer to that accusation, God pointed to Jesus and said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Through him, I do have eyes of flesh."
As the skeptics correctly point out, there are no airtight, historical proofs which will convince the doubter. That fact only heightens the risk God took.
The risk multiplies when you read, in four brief accounts, written decades after the fact, that Jesus came into the world in humiliating circumstances. There were nine months of embarrassing explanations, nine months of scandal. Could anything good come out of Nazareth?
Then Jesus raised the risk to its highest point when he told Thomas, "You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have never seen, and yet they still believe in me."
The Apostle Paul effectively capsulized the risk: "If we have hope of Christ in this life only, we are of all men, most miserable." And still God gives us the choice. It's his way.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 2/10/96
Copyright 1996 by David Sisler
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