By Pastor Bob Myers
At Covenant we help restart God—conversations that have been shut down.
One of my greatest passions is serving those struggling to find their way back into conversation with God. One of my goals in preaching is to equip you to have “water cooler” or “bus-stop” conversation starters. A mature disciple is someone who can engage every kind of person with the claims of Jesus Christ with a natural fluency. I know some of you could walk into room of people and turn any conversation naturally and winsomely to Jesus.
Whenever I preach, I assume that your friends who don’t yet believe are in the room, and it’s wonderful that I often find out that they are. Because we remember that we were “once foolish ourselves”, we never belittle people for unbelief. We don’t expect them to believe before we welcome them to the conversation. We let them off the hook and don’t expect them to adopt the behaviors that only make sense on the other side of believing the claims of Christ.
I can very easily imagine navigating life as an unbeliever. I not only remember what it was like before I believed, but I still have doubts and cognitive dissonance that I have to regularly resolve. There are things in the Bible that I have a hard time reconciling with what I know of Jesus. The pat answers that are often given out don’t just leave me cold, they leave me sympathizing with unbelievers many times. Sometimes all I’m left with is to “respect the silences of scripture” on resolving a matter that I wish scripture spoke clearly about but does not address. Sometimes all I can offer is, “I know what the answer is not, but I don’t know what the answer is”.
I believe God is already in conversation with each person. The Bible says He does this universally. His voice is heard in every language and people group through creation (Psalm 19).
The current sermon series has referred to the secular classic, “Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl and his experience through the horrors of Auschwitz for corroboration. A corroborating witness comes from the outside but confirms important truths. No matter how secular the book, how atheistic the framework and filter, no subject matter can escape divine fingerprints. There are many corroborating witnesses!
All of the best thinking, the greatest artists, and especially the best dramas and stories can be summoned up as corroborating witnesses to Jesus. They either honor him in their reflection of beauty ultimately found in Him or they leave a Jesus-shaped void. For example, all the twelve step programs emphasize yielding up our universal helplessness to overcome our addictions to a Higher Power. What Higher Power would ever be concerned enough to hear from me about my ridiculous weaknesses, relapses, addictions and brokenness? This whole framework assumes a number of things about that Higher Power that cast a Jesus-Shaped Shadow.
If I had the opportunity to talk with Viktor Frankl, who died in 1997, I would ask him a lot of questions. But ultimately, I would tell him that Jesus best explains Auschwitz and the human spirit. Jesus explains where the evil that engineered Auschwitz comes from. But Jesus also explains the power of the human spirit that went through Auschwitz saying the “Shema” as they went to their deaths. Jesus explains the longing of the soul, our resistance to death and annihilation, and the irrepressible hope that no amount of suffering can completely extinguish.
That’s why I connected this mini-series in Romans to content in a book by a non-Christian. He becomes a corroborating witness to truths in the Bible.
The Truths of God are often best experienced in stereo sound on twin speakers. One speaker is the Book of the Word, and the other stereo speaker is a Book of the World. This is My Father’s World. The more in depth we ponder it, the more we will see scripture and all of its claims corroborated and amplified.
I’m sorry to be away this weekend as Pete Lyon preaches to close out the Search for Meaning series. Pete and Sarah Lyon have been a treasure to Covenant Church over nearly ten years. They have had servant hearts as they have skillfully and cheerfully served us in a number of roles, including their deep investment in students over many years. This weekend Pete will share about a new calling and new ministry that he and Sarah will be answering as he preaches from Romans 16.
Finally, I want to encourage you to sign up for the June 2nd luncheon seminar I will be teaching on hot button social issues and how to Build Bridges and Be Biblically Faithful. I feel a great passion for this area of ministry and want to anchor us more fully and deeply in scripture. I hope to see many of you sign up for this important and relevant seminar.