Thursday: Second Week of Lent
Where do you see expressions of unbelief, and what is your response to it?
Many people today are familiar with the work of one, or more, of the so-called Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse, a group of atheist thinkers and writers including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, who aggressively promote atheism and secularism. More troubling is the overt and violent persecution of Christians that has increased during the last century: more Christians have been killed for their faith during the twentieth century than all other centuries combined. Christians face restrictions and hostility in over 110 countries in the world today. Much less extreme are “functional atheists,” whose lives are preoccupied by materialistic and hedonistic pursuits and who live as if belief in God does not matter.
Unbelief, and opposition to Jesus, in its various forms is nothing new. Today’s reading opens a window into the consternation that swirled around Jesus during His public ministry. Perplexed by His miracles, by His cryptic yet enticing stories and teachings, by His humble and local origins, by His apparent lack of proper education, and by the dissonance between their own longing for political liberation from a coming Messiah and the distinct lack of nationalistic ambitions on the part of Jesus, many wondered: Who is He, really?
How we answer the question for ourselves, and how we help others answer the question, matters. Both Matthew and Mark tell a story about how Jesus personally pressed His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” Christian apologists such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis put the choices rather starkly in their trilemma: Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, or he is the Lord! As the central holy day in the Christian calendar, Easter is the time when we are reminded that how we answer the question makes all the difference, both now and for eternity.
Does the way you live demonstrate belief?
Bruce L. Guenther is Professor of Church History and Mennonite Studies at MB Seminary and is a part of Bakerview MB Church in Abbotsford, BC.