What comes to mind when I say the name “Jesus”? Do you think of his love? His grace? Forgiveness that only he provides? Or do you think of everything he is against? If you think that question is facetious, read these words of Philip Yancey:
“Recently, I have been asking a question of strangers–for example, a seatmate on an airplane–when I strike up a conversation. ‘When I say the words “evangelical Christian” what comes to mind?’ In reply, mostly I hear political descriptions: of strident pro-life activists, or gay-rights opponents, or proposals for censoring the Internet. I hear references to the Moral Majority, an organization disbanded years ago. Not once–NOT ONCE–have I heard a description redolent of grace. Apparently that is not the aroma Christians give off in the world.”
What have we been doing? When someone asks about the hope that lies within us, how do we answer? Is anyone even asking?
Brothers and sisters, Jesus turned the world absolutely upside-down when he came to earth as a man. Upside-down and inside-out. Any value humans have anywhere in the world is because he conferred us value. We count the years of our calendar from the date of his appearance. Every corner of the world has been incalculably, permanently marked by his life.
“Lord, save us from your followers,” the bumper sticker says. Yes, Lord, save us from those who preach what we must do instead of what you have done. Save us from the stench of works instead of the aroma of Christ. Save us from the threat of condemnation instead of you, the picture of grace.