If Christ Didn’t Come

If Christ Didn’t Come

When Robinson Crusoe saw the footprint in the sand it immediately convinced him that he was not alone on the island. The wildness and emptiness of the rest of the island during the long time he’d been there brought its own message, “You’re alone.” It took only a single footprint to offset all that the wildness and solitude had told him. There may have been other caves he hadn’t examined, other hollows he hadn’t been in and other hills or trees he hadn’t climbed. Had he covered every square inch of the island and found nothing but solitude the footprint would still have been enough to show he wasn’t alone.

Suppose he sat down and said to himself, “No, I’ve been to every other square inch of this island and there’s no sign of a human. It’s only in this tiny spot that I can find a footprint so I will not believe I have company.” That would have been a mistake, wouldn’t it?

Years ago in his book News Essays in Philosophical Theology former atheist Anthony Flew wrote that the whole religious question would not be worth bothering with if it were not for that one life lived and that one death died. He was speaking about Jesus Christ of course. The figure of Christ is a stubborn one. We can ignore him, we can bury him out of sight beneath our pleasures and businesses our worries and burdens our loneliness or our parties but as soon as we’re able to look closely at him the shape of the world begins to change. Possibilities rise up in his presence. Ways of behaving are called into question, stock answers begin to look less likely and our vision of how life and the world are constructed comes under the spotlight in a fresh way.

Robinson Crusoe’s first emotional response was panic! If you remember his circumstances you’ll understand why that makes sense (and as it turned out there was some reason to panic). I find no pleasure in thinking that for some, one day their meeting with Christ will generate panic beyond description because that isn’t what he desires. He left his footprints in our world for an entirely different reason. The Son of Man didn’t come to condemn the world—we’ve done a perfect job of that without his help. He came that we might have life and have it to the full (John 3:17 and 10:10). If you meet him now in faith you have no reason to panic. He means you no harm. He never did!

A priest, who had gone through that horrifying period in Rwanda in the late 90’s that left a million corpses, was asked if his faith in God had been destroyed. He said “Absolutely not!” But he did go on to say that the events in that tortured land had destroyed forever his faith in man. [Only extremely wealthy pop-stars can write and sing songs extolling “the brotherhood of man” as the way to salvation.]

I wonder if we’ve thought enough about what would be true if we knew beyond doubt that Christ hadn’t come to live and die and live again as Lord of all? There’d be no defiant gravestones in graveyards, no hymns would be sung, no prayers would be prayed, assurance that all wrongs will be righted would vanish and the hope of life after life would turn to dust. The deaths of our loved ones would be eternal loss and the heart would be ripped out of all efforts to further justice in life. Do, put your mind to it and think what the world would be like if it wakened one morning knowing—not guessing, not surmising, not debating, not suspicioning but knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ hadn’t come. If the entire Western world wakened, stunned with the undoubted truth that it was all a lie, I think that even those that say the only life they want is the partying kind would feel that the bolts that hold the planet together had been loosened.

If you feel you can’t believe, why then you can’t believe. We can’t act with integrity beyond our perceptions and if the entire Story is a lie then it’s a lie no matter how many wish it otherwise. But wouldn’t you like to be able to believe it? Wouldn’t you want it to be true? Atheist H.J Blackham said the greatest argument against non-belief is that it’s too bad to be true. Puddleglum was right.

Sit down with Christ and give him a fair hearing.