Many of my friends and colleagues will tease that when I believe, all I am doing is putting faith in an ancient book, but of course that’s not how I get there. When I scan the philosophies about God, when I look for a narrative driving history, when I encounter a personality in my prayers, when I simply ask, “If there was a God what would it look like?”—they move me toward Jesus.
My own conversion didn’t hinge on a bunch of religious experiences. I moved back toward Jesus when I studied, really for the first time, his personality—his magnetically keen personality and the kinds of decisions he made at the end of his life. When looking at those details I not only said, “Yes, this God is real,” but better still, “Yes, and I want this God to be real.”
That’s my move and I don’t apologize for my desires. In fact, I’m inclined to say that in both the search for God, and in our continuing sanctification, our desires matter more than anything else.
A common failure in most contemporary apologetics is the disregard of a person’s passions. Too often the philosopher in us wants to rationally establish the un-deniability of our position. We lay out our arguments in ways that cover any foreseen objections, and we pitch our worldview as the appropriate end to a long series of rational calculations. That’s not a bad thing, but it misses something vital.
The final events of Jesus life are a tour de force that cannot be analyzed like a Sudoku puzzle. They are much more like a symphony to experience with awe and unspeakable appreciation. Jesus of Nazareth mastered the art of transforming his world unlike anyone else before or after, and vital to becoming (and remaining) a Christian is the preparation of one’s self to appreciate and consume the unceasing brilliance of his life and methods.Lent, among so many other things, ought to prepare our palate. We need to become the kind of person—the kind of people—who crave this reality, this kind of kingdom, this kind of King. An appetite for divine fare is not necessarily natural to any of us (who really wishes to pick up their own cross?). In whatever practices we choose during this new Lent, we ought to target becoming the kinds of people who can honor and enjoy and consume and live within the masterpiece our God offers.
I’m releasing a short book on the crucifixion today called King. It’s a dollar. I offer it as a brief Lenten reflection. When I became a Christian again, nine years ago, this material more than anything moved my heart and reminded me what kind of God Jesus is.
King: the Subversive Life and Death of Jesus (2012) is available on eBook. Physical copies will be available at amazon.com next week.
Jeff teaches philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado. He is the author of Seven: the Beatitudes and Deadly Sins (Zondervan 2008) and the upcoming Everything New: One Philosopher Search for a God Worth Believing In (Subversive 5.27.2012). www.everythingnew.org