Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, April 19 2018 @ 05:49 PM UTC

Not So Subjective A Thing

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I’ve spent a great deal of time during the last few weeks talking with Mongolian Christians about their desire to reach all of Mongolia for Christ. If there is one thing that Mongolian Christians are not short of, it is passion for the Great Commission and their country.
One question I ask every person I speak with is, “What is it about the Gospel, or what evidences in the Gospel convinced you that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God?”
In the past whenever I’ve been asked a question like that I’ve always given answers about Biblical evidences: Fulfilled prophecies about Jesus, the truthfulness and accuracy of the Bible, etc. But what I’ve received from my Mongolian brothers and sisters is very different. Perhaps all these years I’ve been giving the wrong answer?
“What is it about the Gospel that convinced you that Jesus is the Son of God?” How would you respond that question? Recently, every single Mongolian believer I’ve asked, without a single exception, has provided the exact same answer.
God’s love.

It didn’t matter if they were young or old. It didn’t matter if they’ve been Christians for a short period or long. It didn’t matter if they went to one of the local Bible schools or were nearly uneducated. Across every possible categorization they all give the exact same answer: God’s love is the greatest evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. They experienced that evidence in the Christians around them, and experienced its testimony from the Bible.
I’m having trouble wrapping this around my Western way of thinking. We read the Bible, not experience it, don’t we? In one sense that is true, then again, the testimony of God’s love in the Bible isn’t just for intellectual consideration. Perhaps this is not even a Western way of thinking, rather a skeptic’s way. Am I a skeptic? Not about Jesus, certainly. But about some of the claims that modern-day Christians make I’m certainly a skeptic. I’m not a charismatic, but I think a lot of charismatics are cool. Hyper-charismatics are not. Prosperity Gospel? It’s not gospel. That being said, the charismatic wing of Christianity tends to be the more “subjective” with its Christianity as opposed to my more “objective” way of thinking. And yet I sometimes wonder. (My charismatic friends should not view this is a chink in the armor.)
Isn’t God’s love, as evidence, subjective? Not to the person whose life has been radically changed by God’s love!
When my girls were younger I used to play a little mind-game with them (I still do). “How do you know you love me? Prove it?” The girls would usually get frustrated with me. At such a young age they knew how they felt, but also had a sense that what they did as a sign of that love was not like what I or their mom did as a sign of our love to them. So their idea of what love really is, was somewhat limited by both their experience and intellectual ability. However, if they were asked how they knew that I loved them, or their mother loved them, that was a different story. They could go on with a list of things that included deeds of love as well as emotional expression. The point here is that the evidences of love are deeds of love, which involve sacrifice for another. I do things for my girls. Diane does things for my girls. These acts are combined with emotional expression of loving devotion making a strong case – we love our girls.
I used to think that God’s love was somewhat subjective in our perceptions. I can’t touch Jesus’ hands, or side as the Apostle Thomas did. I wasn’t there when Jesus prayed John 17 just before being marched to trial. Yet I do have the historical record of God’s love in the Bible. That record states, “While we were yet still sinners (God’s enemies), Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That is powerful evidence for God’s love – and it’s that evidence that has transformed thousands of Mongolian lives.
Last week one man, who was a Buddhist all his life until he became a Christian, said to me, “In Buddhism there is no love. We are told to do good things, and be good people, but there is no love. God’s love convinced me about Jesus.”
Perhaps I too need to go back and take another look at the evidence and see what God’s love can convince me of anew in my relationship with Him, and my Mongolian brothers and sisters.