[serialposts]In Chapter 4 of The Case for Christmas, Lee Strobel interviews Louis Lapides. Lapides is a Pastor of a church in Southern California. But what’s makes this interview so interesting is that Lapides grew up in a Jewish family.
When Strobel asked Lapides about his families opinion of Jesus growing up, his response was, “His name was only brought up derogatorily.”
Now before I go on, I will admit something. This is the first Lee Strobel book I’ve ever read. Although his books always intrigued me I never felt the need to read a book that ‘proved’ the existence of God/Jesus. But in the spirit of the Holiday season, I decided to give this book a shot. And I’m glad I did.
Strobel does an incredible job throughout the entire book of telling the story of Christ through the eyes of someone who may be a skeptic. I would highly recommend this book or any of his books to someone who perhaps is ‘on the fence’ about their faith.
Lapides makes a statement in this chapter that I believe is one voiced by millions and millions throughout the world today. He saw God as being distant and detached. “Does God really care about my struggles?” he asked. “Does he really care about me as an individual?”
Everytime I begin to do one of these blogging projects, before I even attempt to read or start writing I spend some time in prayer. I can read my ‘assigned chapter’ and I can write about it, and God bless Dan because I’m always late getting my entry in, but what I write will not truly be impactful unless the Holy Spirit gives me a revelation about what I’m reading and that revelation comes across in what I write about.
As I read this chapter I keep getting the sense that the Holy Spirit was drawing me to John 6:44. John 6:44 says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Some will say this verse means that God has ‘called’ certain people to himself. I don’t believe this to be true. If anything I think that this verse goes to support what you find over and over again throughout the scriptures, and that is God’s relentless pursuit for us. Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. He also said that he desired that no one would perish.
The one thing about the Bible that always amazed me was that the ‘story’ of the Bible is one of God constantly and relentlessly pursuing us.
Lapides explains to Lee that after all the evil he saw in the world he went on a spiritual journey. He began to turn to eastern religions and philosophies. At one point he turned to drugs.
As Lapides continued on his spiritual journey he began to discover that throughout the Old Testament there was passage after passage that foretold the story of a coming Messiah. This stopped Lapides cold because he believed in the Old Testament. How could he have missed so many passages that clearly told of the coming Christ.
What amazes me about so many of these Old Testament passages is that God was clearly laying the ground work long before Jesus ever walked the earth, so that we could know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was truly the son of God. Long before Jesus ever came to earth, God in all his knowledge and wisdom knew, he knew we would doubt, he knew their would be skeptics. So in his amazing love and relentless pursuit of us he made it clear that Jesus was the messiah.
Amazingly the Old Testament scriptures don’t just simply speak of a messiah but very clearly tell in precise detail what would come to pass when Jesus walked the earth. Isaiah 53 paints an incredibly clear picture of the life of Jesus and what he would face on the earth.
Lapides even went as far as to ask his stepmother to send him a Jewish Bible. He wanted to make sure Isaiah 53 read the same in that Bible as the one he was reading. Sure enough it did. There are over 4 dozen major predictions throughout the Old Testament that tell of the coming Messiah.
Now let’s backtrack for a minute. John 6:44. No man comes to me unless the father who sent me draws him. Lapides makes a statement that literally sent chills through my entire body. “The best I can put together out of that experience is that God objectively spoke to my heart. He convinced me experientially that he exists.” The Father, our God, drew Lapides to the heart of Jesus.
As I’m writing this, it is Christmas eve day. I love the holiday season, it’s a time of happiness and joy. For the most part everyone is really nice to each other, we are more caring, and compassionate than ever. I don’t believe that it’s any coincidence that during the season that the world honors the birth of Christ that we are filled with more love than ever. However, why can’t we create this atmosphere of love year round? Why does it have to just happen around Christmas time? I believe that the spirit of Christmas is the love that Jesus desires to bring to a hurting a broken world. But why does it exist more during the Christmas season than any other time of year. I believe it’s because during the Holiday season we are intentional about it. Love is not a feeling or an emotion much to contrary belief it is an action. God ‘sent’ his son to earth to save us. Jesus ‘chose’ to to be beaten and nailed to a cross for our sins. God ‘draws’ us to his son Jesus. Love is an action. Jesus told us that the absolute most important thing we could ever do in life was to love God and love others.
James 5:16 says our prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE. This Christmas season, as we honor the birth of our Savior, our Jesus. Pray. Make it a resolution for the New Year. Pray. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. There are more than likely many people in your life that haven’t yet known what it’s like to be touched by the love of Jesus. Perhaps God has been wooing them to him but as both Strobel and Lapides experienced the way to our Salvation is not a path that is without obstacles. Pray for those that you know that don’t know Jesus as their Savior. Pray that our Father would draw them to Jesus. Pray that the eyes of their heart would be open to truth, the truth of Jesus.
And let us also pray for ourselves. We all need to draw closer to the heart of Jesus. But to truly draw closer to the heart of our Savior one must choose to truly ‘follow’ in his footsteps. Jesus lived a life of sacrifice and intentional love. If we all chose to love intentionally year round like we do during the Christmas season the world we live in would be a much different place.
Merry Christmas everyone.