There are only two ways to live your life,” Einstein said. “One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”
Last weekend, I was drinking wine in a beautiful French farmhouse chatting with two secular humanists about Jesus. Both of them believe that a historical Jesus was probably a fabrication, definitely an institutionalized myth, an opiate for the masses and certainly not the Christ.
It was jarring, especially after spending so much time recently on a big, white ship in West Africa, surrounded by some of the world’s most radical Christians.
And yet this is where I live now – sacred and secular all tangled up together, confusing the territory, demanding that I answer the question: Why bother with Jesus? Can’t one do good work without all that? I’m learning to respond in a way that loves people regardless of my opinion on their faith. Because really, who cares what I think about their faith?
But in Provence, I was on the ropes, taking a few punches, without any big, smart Christians around to defend me and why I live like I do now. It’s one thing to hang out with people who think just like you do, it’s another to talk openly about Jesus to a couple very shrewd, uber-rational atheists.
Hello rubber. Meet road.
So, do I trust Jesus to help me speak with clarity and kindness, no matter the audience? Can I articulate what I’m doing with Mercy Ships and why? Can I talk about Jesus honestly, like he’s in the room? How do I explain, without hysteria, what he did for me to people who think he is a myth?
I don’t know. So I just told them the truth – mine.
It didn’t take long for the “Jesus is a crutch for you” comment to drop like a bomb. Considering it afresh I thought:
Jesus isn’t crutch for me. He’s a stretcher upon which I collapsed and wearily admitted that I don’t know how to quit being selfish and to do work that matters in Africa or anywhere else. That, as it turns out, was a great place to start.
But the woman knowing what had happened to her came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her “Daughter your faith as made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:33-34
So it doesn’t matter where I am now, Congo, France, Texas, if you ask, I’m just going to tell you the truth, and frankly, it’s kind of messy. Sorry. Other Christians are doing the same. Meet Glennon. Meet Shauna. Meet Sarah.
Yes, it’s terrifying to lay yourself bare for others to inspect and challenge, because they do. Yes, I hear the enemy calling me a self-aggrandizing jerk and I squirm with fear and self-doubt. But every time I simply answer the question, every time I just tell the truth, inevitably a young woman will pull me aside afterward and say:
“Thank you for saying that out loud.”
And that to me is work that matters.