Some quotes from Jesus:
“… I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” John 8:28
“I speak of what I have seen with my Father…” John 8:38
“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” John 12:49
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. “ John 14:10
Christ came to tell us some important things. Now for a story.
I sat downstairs in the University of Tennessee’s Student Center in a little café called “The Rafters.” I often went there to study. I find it easier to study with a lot of commotion around me. I don’t know why, I just do.
I could not help but overhear a lively conversation going on at the table next to mine. Several students were rather loudly discussing how space aliens might be able to communicate with us. It seemed funny to me that the science-fiction crazed undergraduates were spending so much time on the topic. Anything to avoid studying the calculus books that lay open on their table, I guess.
One student proclaimed to the others that the best way would be to do as the Federation had done in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation: make themselves look like the alien species in order to walk among them, learn their customs, and discover a way to accurately and easily communicate.
(I know many consider Star Trek examples to be in poor taste, but it is my blog and I will do what I want to. Besides, I am here quoting a bunch of undergraduates, and many of us know from our undergrad. years just how weird some of those conversations can get.)
I could not help but recall some of the things I had recently heard about Jesus, how He came to tell us of what God had done, what God would do, what God was like, and what God requires of us. I turned around and joined the conversation.
“What if God wanted to communicate with us? How would He do it?” I asked. Two of the five students rater loudly exclaimed that they did not believe God existed. The others just sat there, trying to determine why this strange person was butting in on their friendly talk with such a strange series of questions.
“But what if God existed and wanted to communicate with us?” I pressed. Some of the students almost mockingly chimed in with the standard voice from above or writing on the clouds.
“What if God used the same basic approach that the Federation used as you were just discussing? What if He became a man like us? Someone who looked like an ‘ordinary Joe’ and walked and talked like a common place human?” I was starting to enjoy this.
One guy spoke up,”That just might work.” This encouraged me to press on. I asked, “How would he prove to us that he was God in the flesh?” The same guy got a strange, excited look on his face. “By doing things only God could do,” he exclaimed.
I asked if I could join them at the table and was invited to come over. I began to talk to them about their church and religious backgrounds. I found that the group had by and larger rejected the Christianity they had grown up hearing about. I also learned that most of that Christianity was of a liberal, ‘warm and fuzzy’ variety that was almost antithetical to the fundamentalist Christianity of my raising.
Most seemed genuinely surprised as I explained to them that orthodox Christianity had taught for hundreds of years that God had done precisely that. God had become a man in the Person of Jesus Christ in order to communicate with us. The eternal Second Person of the Trinity had assumed human form.
In the Person of Christ, God had done things only God could do. He worked miracles, not the ‘touchy feely,’ Guideposts sort of miracles, but acts that worked completely contrary to nature. We discussed a few of those stories from their youth.
It turned into a 45-minute discussion of the basics of the Christian faith, from Christ’s birth to His perfect life lived for us, to His infinite suffering on our behalf on the cross. After three or four more conversations, one of those five people professed his faith in Christ. The last I heard of him, he had surrendered to the call to full time Christian ministry. This is one of my happier stories from my graduate school days.
So, I wish a merry Christmas to you and yours. May the joy that comes from Christ’s words flood your heart and soul.
And, “Live long and prosper.”