One of the things I mentioned often to nominating committees once Natalie and I determined to come back into PCUSA ministry, was the necessity of every one of a church’s members feeling confident to answer the question – “Why are you a Christian?” And the reason I’m so adamant on it is because, even though that might not always be the way the query is phrased, make no mistake about it, that’s what unbelievers are inquiring of us nearly every time they observe our lives or talk about our faith.
And, maybe not all, but quite a lot of them, are digging for something quite simple. They’re wondering, “What’s in it for me?”
After all, chances are most people here in the US are at least somewhat aware of what being a Christian means. The strong likelihood is though that they wrongly perceive it all through the lens of sacrifice with little tangible return.
That’s precisely why we Christians need be able to articulate just exactly what it is we’ve gained and are getting in and through our walk with Jesus Christ. And what I’m hopeful you’re getting to understand or understood already, is that we do “get” a lot through our faith. More, perhaps, than we ever even imagined to begin with.
The previous weeks of this series, I’ve talked about Sin and Redemption and the quote-unquote “rules” we’re led to live by in faith. This week, I want to draw perhaps more clearly what exactly what I mean by saying “you can’t lose in Jesus Christ.”
Well, to BEGIN with, we understand that, by the atoning act of Jesus Christ on the Cross, our sins are forgiven. Further, we understand that we’ve been shown a manner of living that yields the best results made clear to us in Scripture. Now, we need explore further about what it means to not be able to lose when it seems as though we live in a time of ongoing loss.
“You can’t lose” is a phrase, I admit, which comes with some baggage.
I’ll never forget being 17 and getting to go up to New York City with my senior class. And while my memories of the actual museums we went to or the musicals we attended have long since faded, one particular memory remains quite vivid.
One day, while using some free time to explore the Big Apple, my friend, and I came across a young man with a chess table set up on a card table near Central Park. Now one thing 17-year-olds tend to be overly full of is self-confidence, right? So, when the young man urged us to play a game, telling us that two fine, upstanding young men like ourselves were sure to win, we took the bait.
Mark went first, he laid his money down off to the side of the table. I remember hearing the young man’s words just as the game was about to begin, “A smart guy like you? You can’t lose.”
Of course, you know what’s coming. In rather short order, Mark did, in fact lose. I tried next and my result was no better.
From that day forward, the words “you can’t lose” evoke within me the surety of a loss of some sort. After all, “you can’t lose” has the stink of a late-night infomercial upon it, doesn’t it? “Buy just one Ronco dehydrator and get the second one free, you can’t lose!”
Experience has taught us only too well, after all, that there ARE no no-lose situations just as there is no free lunches, no fountain of youth. It’s just what we’ve learned in life on this third rock from the sun.
I’m aware of that skepticism, I am.
And yet, after having read and studied the Scriptures for a number of years now, I continue to make this one bold claim – “You can’t lose in Jesus Christ.”