Those who think that Christianity is a religion for the weak-minded know nothing about integrity. Holding scriptural values in today’s world, either in Asia where we presently live, or in the West, is not for those who cave easily under opposition or criticism. There is always going to be some aspect of Christianity that is going to offend someone: its insistence on marital fidelity and moral purity, its cheerful contempt for wealth, its balance of the championing of the rights of women while maintaining the role of men as leaders in the home and the church, all these and many other issues are offensive to many in the modern era, and those who proclaim their love for Christ better know that this is going to engender the opposition, if not outright hatred of many.

But of all the offenses of my faith, none is more offensive than the blood of Christ shed for the remission of sins. The very image of a naked Saviour dying in agony nailed to a cross is a grave offense. Putting that image up before an unbelieving world provokes cries of outrage and condemnation. “Who are you to say that I am a sinner?” they will demand. “What kind of God would require a blood sacrifice?” they contend. “What evidence do you have that this event even took place?” they protest. It is an offense, all of it. An offense to reason and sensibility. An offense to decency and decorum. An offense to the dogma that mankind is essentially good.

But mankind is not good. Mankind produced the horrors of Auschwitz, and the Killing Fields. Mankind produced Rwanda and Afghanistan. Mankind produced the Sudan and Somalia. Mankind is not only not good, we are at times demonic. So demonic, in fact, that we need only to look at the picture of Christ hanging on the cross to see what our sin did to the holiest man that ever walked on this earth. And that offends us. We turn our faces from Auschwitz and Rwanda: that wasn’t us; those men were monsters, not human beings. But they weren’t. They were human. Just like us. Not worthy of heaven, not worthy of Life.

And this is how much God loves us anyway. That God, in the flesh, allowed Himself to bear in His body the penalty of our wickedness, so that all who put their faith in His finished work – not the works of their own righteousness, for all our righteous acts amount to filthy rags that cannot cover our sin – will be resurrected, just Christ Himself, and have Eternal Life.

I accepted Christ at His word some thirty years ago now. If I am wrong, and there is no God, I will have lived a life of purpose and peace – yes, even in the midst of conflict, I have the peace of knowing that He walks beside me, and that is a great comfort – and disappear into nothing, just as you say. If you are wrong and there is indeed a God who died for your sins, and you reject His offer – your filthy sins, for His perfect righteousness – you get a life without purpose or hope, and an eternal life of torment. I’m not much of a gambler, but those strike me as rotten odds.

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