In the early part of this century, British philosopher Bertrand Russell was a severe critic of religion in general and of Christianity in particular. Much of his criticism was so obviously biased that it could not be taken seriously. But we in the Church would do well to at least consider some of the things that he said. For example, he made this comment concerning Christians: “A few of them may enrich a community, but a world composed entirely of them would die of boredom.”
That criticism cannot be lightly cast aside because it expresses the attitude of too many people. Could it be true? Have we in the church turned the good news about Christ into a tiring thing?
It certainly was not that in the beginning. The Gospels tell of a day when young men walked away from their chosen careers in order to follow Jesus. Why would they do that? Many of them were fishermen. Their fathers and grandfathers had probably been fisherman for several generations. But those young men left it all behind and followed Jesus. Why?
To that question there can only be one answer – they were challenged by Him. He said, “Come after me; I will make you fishers of men.” There was no promise of high salaries or comfortable working conditions. He offered them nothing but a ringing challenge, and they responded. There is something in the human spirit that responds to a challenge. If we have lost that note of excitement, we should look to the business of finding it again.
Christ offers you and me the challenge of becoming something that we have never been and never could be without His help. He said to those fishermen, “Come after me and I will make you…” These men are remembered today for their strength, their courage, their integrity, and their ability to love even those who hated them. Christ made them into that when they accepted His challenge. And He makes you and me the same offer. But some of us never think of our Christian faith as a resource for living. Instead of using it, we treat it as one might treat a family heirloom.
That is how some of us treat the Christian faith. We are proud of it. It has been a part of the family for many generations. We treasure it; we love it; we defend it. But it seldom occurs to many that we might use it. Thus, we end up facing life in our own strength and find that we are inadequate for the task. We are overwhelmed by responsibilities. We are beaten by temptations. We are frightened by the present. We are worried about the future. And for some reason, it never occurs to us that our faith in God has any part to play in all of this.
To Jesus and those who knew Him best, God was a source of power for daily living. If that kind of experience is not a part of your faith, it is a small wonder that we find it dull and disinteresting. It has nothing to do with life. It is like a piece of rare jewelry that we keep in a safety deposit box, but seldom if ever would we think of using it. The challenge of Christ is that we follow Him and put into practice what He taught. We would be surprised that it will make all the difference in your life. Try it and you too will see that it really works.