Before I get started: Adherents of Islam are made in the image of God just like everyone else. As such, they ought to be spoken to with respect and courtesy. Though I believe Islam to be fundamentally in error, and though I believe followers of Mohamed need very much to repent, turn to Christ and receive God’s grace, I believe that about everyone who is not in Christ. I don’t think Muslims to be any more or less fallen than anyone else.
We’ve all sinned; those of us who are legitimately in Christ have had his righteousness credited to us, yes, but that is not by our doing, not something to brag about. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Though events of the last 20 years or so understandably give people reason to be apprehensive about Islam in particular, I see no reason why it is any more or less in error than any number of religions.
Anyone, therefore, posting a link to this article in the spirit of maligning or bashing Muslims is not speaking for me. Those who do such things ought to examine their hearts. God’s earnest desire is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and Christians should align themselves with that desire.
Recently an “Islam v. Christianity” Twitter debate sprang up on my feed, the nature of which I won’t get into. One Muslim on the thread, though, made an interesting comment, that he submits to the God of “Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, David…. all the righteous prophets and messengers…”. It’s here that I decided to jump in, pointing out what I think to be a glaring inconsistency that is (I think) accepted by Muslims in general: this notion that Jesus is accepted as a prophet as per the Islamic tradition. I tried to respond to this gentleman, but the back-and-forth of Twitter makes any sort of coherent discussion nearly impossible, hence this post.
Therefore, here for your reading pleasure (or not) is my explanation as to why it makes no sense for Muslims to consider Jesus to be a prophet.
Jesus claimed equality with God
I don’t know that much about Islam, but I’m given to understand that Muslims consider blasphemy to be incredibly serious. Claiming to be equal with God is blasphemous unless it’s true; and it makes zero sense for someone who would make such an inexcusable claim to be ordained a prophet by God. I can think of no other prophet who dared.
Here is some (by no means all) of the evidence:
Jesus says “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30)
This is the sort of claim you will not hear from any other prophet, and for good reason: it’s likely to get a person killed, and not for the right reasons. It makes two very scandalous claims:
Jesus allows his followers to worship him
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:8-9)
This one needs little explanation. Unless the next thing Jesus says is “what are you doing?? Don’t worship me, I’m not God!”, (it’s not) there’s no excuse for this. Unless of course he really is God and such worship is due, he should have promptly rebuked this sort of behaviour.
Jesus claims for himself the name of the living God
The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (John 8:57-58)
The use of the phrase I AM is a very clear reference to what God calls himself (I AM who I AM) in Exodus 3:14; and it makes no sense for it to be interpreted in any other context. If you need proof that it was intended and/or received this way, the very next thing that happens is the pharisees pick up stones to kill him. If this was a misunderstanding, the perfectly rationale thing for Jesus to say at this critical moment would have been “whoa, whoa guys, hold on, I’m not claiming to be God, let’s not lose our heads”. He doesn’t say that.
Jesus’ Disciples clearly believe him to be God
Those who walked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, wept with Jesus and say they saw him raised from the dead all claim that he was God, which is totally irrational if Jesus himself didn’t believe that. As a “responsible prophet” it would have been his duty to shut that line of thinking down. And yet, he didn’t do that. here are some examples of the overwhelming consensus among the disciples regarding Jesus’ divinity:
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. (Philippians 2:5-6)
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours… (2 Peter 1:1)
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
I could go on for some time, but you get the point. Jesus’ disciples clearly believed him to be divine.
“But”, you may retort, “they could have been mistaken, maybe he did rebuke them, and they didn’t listen; they just got carried away”. To this I’ll say that the entire New Testament is written by these same disciples. If we’re going to reject their very thesis about who Jesus is, we might as well reject the whole account. Without the testimony of people who believed Jesus to be God, we have no testimony at all, certainly none to indicate he was a prophet.
Jesus claimed to be the Messiah
Jesus did not claim to be a mere prophet but the Messiah (the Christ, the “anointed”); he’s either demented or he’s telling the truth. Again, I go to my former argument – namely that God would not ordain someone with such delusions of grandeur to carry his message – and add another: if Jesus is the Messiah, what purpose has Muhammad? Jesus cannot both be the promised Messiah and be subordinate to Muhammad.
Evidence that Jesus believed he was the Messiah
When Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ (the Messiah, the “anointed”) the Son of the Living God, Jesus called Peter blessed:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15-17)
He also clearly answered in the affirmative on this question when interrogated by the Sanhedrin:
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62).
Further, Jesus frequently referenced Old Testament messianic prophecy to refer specifically to himself. his favourite title for himself, for example, was “the Son of Man”, which was practically bursting with messianic meaning as per Old Testament prophecy, especially this one:
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before him. And to him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve him his dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And his kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
There can be no doubt that Jesus considered himself to be God’s chosen Messiah, he cannot also be considered a prophet unless this is true; and if it is true, it turns all of Islam on its head by rendering Muhammad inferior to Jesus. While God may have many prophets, only one can be his “chosen prophet”; Jesus and Muhammad can’t possibly share the title; and as far as I know, Muhammad in no way believed that they did – he believed Jesus to be a prophet and himself to be the prophet.
Jesus was raised from the dead
If we’re going to accept the rationale that Jesus was merely a prophet, subordinate to Muhammad, we’d need to throw out the notion that he was raised from the dead. Muhammad became ill, died and was buried, just like any other man. Would God’s chosen prophet – the prophet, as it were – be denied the bodily resurrection that was granted to a lesser messenger?
I can’t imagine why Islam could possibly accept the bodily resurrection of Christ, this Jesus who roamed the earth for 40 days after his crucifixion (Acts 1:3). And if the resurrection must be discounted, as before, so must the entire New Testament; every single NT writer claimed that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was an actual historical event. Either Jesus rose from the dead, or the entire account is bogus, and we have no person at all on whom to hang the title of “prophet”.
Jesus solved the problem of sin
The doctrine of imputation means that, in Jesus’ death and resurrection, two things happen for those who place their faith in him:
The whole New Testament narrative is based on this substitutionary sacrifice. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9, Romans 4:4-5, 1 Peter 2:24, Romans 5:19… I could go on), and this is what ultimately reconciles two formerly irreconcilable parties: God and man.
Now, this is either:
I say the latter not to denigrate the Islamic prophet but to make a very important point. Christ claims to have solved humanity’s problem: sin. If we are to accept that Jesus has done this, enabling his followers to finally break free of the affliction that prohibits us from standing in God’s presence, Muhammad can never exceed Jesus in primacy or importance. How could we possibly accept that such a sacrifice has been made and offer our primary devotion to anyone other than the person who made it? Muhammad could be no more than a subsidiary prophet who points the way to Jesus, and that is something that he never claimed to be.
Further, this sacrifice is only possible because Jesus is a “lamb without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19), i.e. a person without sin who alone is worthy enough to suffer punishment for the sins of mankind:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Same argument. Muhammad (as far as I know) makes no claim to be free of sin. Either Jesus is not who the New Testament says he is, or Muhammad must be, at best, a subordinate prophet pointing the way to Jesus.
Look, I know very little about Islam and my aim isn’t to tear it apart – not qualified to – but this one thing, this idea that Jesus is “a prophet, a wise teacher, an okay guy” is a logical misstep that followers of Islam are not alone in making.
The problem is that it makes no sense. No wise teacher or prophet can be wise if he claims equality with God and proclaims himself the messiah foretold by the Old Testament. He’s either a deranged lunatic, or he’s telling the truth. Further, if his disciples insist that he raised himself from the dead and, that, through faith in him, anyone can have everlasting life, then we must either believe them or declare them and their entire account to be completely insane.
There is no middle ground with Jesus. You’re in, or you’re out.
And as someone who’s “in” I can tell you, Jesus stood in your place and took the wrath of God on your behalf. That’s why in him, you can personally experience God’s Love, his Mercy, and his Grace for all eternity, free of charge. You can have eternal life in Jesus, all it takes is one, short, prayer.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
You look at your three cards. If you already have a winning hand (say, a pair of kings), you say to the dealer “let it ride”, leaving all three bets ($30) on the table. You do this because you know that you’ve already won, and could win more, depending on the dealer’s two cards. This is called a “no-brainer”; the dealer reveals his two cards and you find out how much more you may have won. If, however, you don’t have a guaranteed win, you have the option to either take a chance and “let it ride”, or pull back your first bet, leaving only $20 on the table.
Once you've pulled your first bet, the dealer flips up one of his two cards, and you can now see 4/5 of your hand.
Like I said earlier, I loved to play even though I lost way more often than I won; this is because it was the only game I knew how to play that allowed you the opportunity to potentially win big but also hedge your bets. Let It Ride is the perfect game for cowards.
These days I steer clear of casinos, but unfortunately have remained, for all intents and purposes, addicted to the game. Instead of playing with money, however, I play with faith. Let It Ride “Christian Edition” goes something like this:
I devote myself to God but hedge my bets. I “commit to” missions or ministry, but when I become intimidated by the level of sacrifice that such an endeavour might actually entail, I decide to step up my volunteer efforts at church instead. I decide that I’m going to share my faith with my friends; when the time comes, though, I drop a few church references and mention where I'll be on Sunday, but end up saying nothing about Jesus. I throw my $30 on the table and promptly withdraw 2/3 of it when it becomes clear that I’ll need actual faith to see it through, reasoning that if God really wants it to happen, He’ll make it happen.
The problem with this, of course, is that our Lord is not operating a casino. He decides exactly what cards will be dealt, and I can’t think of any reason why He should be motivated to bless my life or my ministry based on my “we’ll see” approach to trusting Him. He may still extend me some small blessing and keep me from going totally broke (spiritually speaking) because He is merciful, but why on earth would He reward my lack of faith with anything more than a lack of blessing? Faith begets miracles, a lack of faith does not. The bible is clear on this point:
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:58 NASV).
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8 ESV)
I’m not saying this to shame you, and I’m not saying that you’re “not saved” if you don’t go into full-time ministry (or whatever). This isn’t about salvation, but about leading a satisfying and rich life as a Christian. Heretofore my own lack of faith has hollowed out my effectiveness as a disciple and rendered me a spiritual life of boredom and frustration. Only recently have I even considered stepping out in any tangible way, and only recently have I started to encounter the miraculous.
Faith is not the intellectual assent to a certain theological theory; nor is it a passive feeling of affection for an idea or even for a person. Faith means trust. Faith means trusting Jesus to have our backs when we answer His call to follow Him. It means setting aside the empty promises of this world and embracing His promise of eternal life. Otherwise, we'll almost certainly fail to see the miraculous when it occurs; and our walk with God will be a troublesome chore, rather than an overwhelming delight.
If we seek the blessings that come with the territory of discipleship, we must be prepared to walk as the disciples walked; we must be prepared to look Jesus in the eye and, regardless of the cards on the table, say “let it ride”.
This morning I came across a friend’s comment on Facebook praising a certain politician for doing something I didn’t think to be praiseworthy. What that thing was is immaterial here, but as I read my own comments on the subject back to myself, I realized that they came across as juvenile and petty. Even though I thought my position on the subject to be sensible, somehow my expression of that opinion didn’t do me credit.
This reminded me of two things:
I made this self-directed promise because I had to, because I know that I can’t trust myself to wade too far into political issues, particularly when the medium for the discussion is social media. I’m prone to get cranky, judgemental, self-righteous and, well, unchristian. And while I know this about me, it raises an interesting question for the greater Christian community: can Christians in general trust themselves to be active in the political arena? Can they go into the political trenches, fight the good fight on any given issue and come out unscathed? Should we, even?
It’s a critical question for our times, given the chaos of the political arena. Social media has taken the place of the traditional media in informing public opinion, we’re inundated with “fake news”, foreign governments are (allegedly) leveraging technology to influence elections, people are shooting up schoolhouses, the state’s encroachment on the family is rapidly increasing, and “hate your enemies” seems to be the only value on which everyone can agree regardless of political stripe. (Yesterday I saw an American bishop tweeting that he’d rather go to hell than join conservative evangelicals in Heaven, ouch).
Can, or should, Christians be involved in this? Should be we electing Christian candidates? Joining political parties?
It’s not an easy question to answer. On the one hand, we know that while legislating morality may make our society better and perhaps even more pleasing to God, it does not and cannot solve what truly ails humanity. We know from our study of scripture that a) our main problem is sin, and that problem cannot be solved by anything but faith in Jesus, which can’t be legislated, and b) humanity’s happy ending, which we can read all about in the book of Revelation, does not come about by the stroke of a politician’s pen.
On the other hand, where would humanity be without the active involvement of Christians in the political sphere? Sure, many have failed themselves and God by engaging in perfectly unchristian political ideologies; conversely, Christians have also been the driving force behind the abolitionist and suffrage movements, and are today the only people left, it seems, to oppose the travesty that is abortion. If we bow out now, how quickly does the world go to hell? Should we just let it?
What this tells me is that political pursuits for Christians can be beneficial, but also extremely dangerous. We can do a lot of good for a lot of people and even for the Kingdom itself, but we can also let our ideological bent overshadow and even replace our biblical view of the world. In searching for scripture for an answer to this dilemma, what stands out for me is what Jesus had to say about money:
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
There are a lot of parallels here. Politics, like money, can easily become an idolatrous and self-serving pursuit. Politics, like money, can be used to do great good, but can also be leveraged to inflict incredible evil.
In this passage, Jesus obviously isn’t saying that you cannot serve God and have money. There are people in the New Testament as well as the Old who are both wealthy and righteous. What Jesus says is that you can’t serve both. One, and only one, can be the primary focus of your life; and it is all-too easy to pick the wrong one, even accidentally, to the extent that it takes a miracle to enable a rich man to enter into salvation.
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God… but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:24,26 NIV)
If life makes you rich, so say the scriptures, be very, very careful about your priorities. The same logic can and should, I think, be applied to political involvement. We can't serve both God and our own political ideologies concurrently.
Yes, be involved, if you can handle it. But in doing so, make sure you test yourself, make sure you find accountability partners who will challenge your political beliefs and call you on unchristian behaviours. Make certain that your faith informs your politics, rather vice-versa; and, if you ever get to the point where you find that the word Liberal or Conservative precedes the word “Christian” in your Twitter handle (figuratively speaking), get out. It’s better to lose an eye and enter salvation half-blind than never to enter at all (Mark 9:47). Above all, never forget that your political adversaries are a) made in the image of God, and b) potentially making up their minds about Jesus based at least partly on your conduct.
Ultimately, while I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for a Christian to sympathize with a certain ideological persuasion (to an extent) or join a political party, I think the political sweet spot for Christians is to serve as the unofficial opposition to the government, standing for causes, peoples and issues rather than partisan banners and candidates. I know what side of the political spectrum I tend to fall under, but I’d change my political views in a heartbeat if I thought I was on the wrong side of God; wouldn’t you? After all, politics is not any Christian’s primary vocation; sharing the gospel is.
In the meantime, don’t tweet from the toilet, you filthy thing.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
I'd like you to take a moment to visualize something with me:
You're on an airplane, pleasantly staring out the window and lost in thought when a crew member comes up to you and thrusts a funny looking, over-sized backpack into your arms.
"This plane", he explains, "is going down. We've lost all four engines, and there's no repairing them. We may be able to keep this rig flying for five minutes, maybe for an hour; it depends on the air currents. The good news is that we have parachutes to spare, and we're currently flying over some very smooth grassland. Take this parachute, jump out that door over there, wait five seconds, and pull the ripcord. You'll float gently to the ground. An emergency team will pick up on the attached emergency beacon and meet you where you land within twenty minutes".
You thank the crew member, take the parachute and sit back down, saying to yourself that if you feel the plane start to plummet, you'll have time to jump then. In the meantime, maybe the engines will come back to life. Who knows?
Now you tell me: if this is the choice that you made, did you really believe what the crew member told you, and do you really have faith in that parachute's ability to save your life?
Hold that thought.
I recently stumbled into an online debate between Christians that went something like this:
Person 1: Christians need to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Person 2: We’re saved by grace through faith, you’re preaching salvation by works.
Person 1: We are saved by grace though faith, but if you’re not obedient, you’re not saved.
Person 2: That doesn’t make any sense, you’re cheapening grace.
Person 1: No, you’re cheapening grace.
Person 2: No, you are.
Person 1: You’re a stupid-head.
Person 2: No, you’re a stupid-head.
Okay so maybe I’m taking a little dramatic license here. But the bible quotes were flying back and forth like bullets, and none seemed to be landing. All parties to the discussion felt very convicted about what they were saying, and none-too-interested in what the others had to say. And when I unwisely intervened with a less-than charitable call to quit squabbling; I was told in no uncertain terms that it is their duty to defend the word of God. Fair enough I guess; I didn’t respond (I should have stayed out of it in the first place).
In any case, what this highlights for me is a two-thousand year debate that just, doesn’t, want, to, end.
Every believing Christian should, I think, struggle somewhat with this issue in his/her own heart; we are all called to work out our own salvation with “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and should take care to ensure that we are neither too complacent nor too dogmatic about our obedience to Jesus. However, when this turns into a debate, it can become a polarizing obstacle to our faith, rather than a healthy challenge to our own complacency.
Therefore, for your reading pleasure (or displeasure), here is my (hopefully) simple answer to this question:
Q. Are we saved by what we believe, or by what we do?
A. Incorrect. Thanks for coming out.
Look, there is no doubt: a sincere Christian is NOT in any way, shape, or form under the law. The Law only exists in the first place because of sin. Pre-fall, God didn’t set out a complex set of rules and regulations, but one simple instruction that was intended for the benefit of those who were charged with keeping it.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV)
As we progress through the bible, the sin gets worse. As the sin worsens, the law becomes more detailed, more complex, more robust. The closer the Israelites get to the promised land, the more ungracious their behaviour seems to become. As the behaviour worsens, the laws continue to pile on, and the punishments become more severe.
Here’s an illustration: say you have a trustworthy 16 year-old daughter who wants to borrow the car to go bowling with her youth group. You assent and tell her to come home at a reasonable hour. If she comes home at 8:30 PM, kisses you on the cheek, thanks you for the car and retires upstairs to do some homework, there will be no need to implement a specific curfew in the future. In fact, the next time around, you may not even need bother with the "reasonable hour" bit. If, on the other hand, she comes home at 1:30 AM smelling faintly of beer and cigarettes and a very poor excuse as to why she's worried you half-to-death, not only are you likely to implement a specific curfew going forward, you may ground her to her room for a week (month?) or two to ponder why that curfew now exists. The more undesirable the behaviour becomes, the thicker the rule-book gets. Less sin, less law. More sin, more law, greater punishments.
Now, as we place our faith in Christ, His substitutionary atonement does two things:
In the eyes of God, we no longer carry the guilt of sin; and we now embody the righteousness of Christ. No sin is held against us; therefore, no law needs to be applied to us: no sin, no law, no condemnation. Even if we do mess up and come home at 1:30 AM smelling like booze and cigarettes, Jesus' righteousness is credited to us and, though we may be disciplined by our Lord, the curfew does not and will not apply. See how that works?
Now, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, does this mean we’re off the hook, free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, without consequence of any sort, confident that God has no choice but to hold up His end of the bargain no matter how disobediently we behave or how much discredit we bring to His name?
Answer: no, of course not, what kind of stupid question is that?
If you have merely assented to the theological premise that Jesus died for you in a cynical ploy to buy yourself hell insurance, and if you have no real desire to love Jesus or take an active role in His kingdom, chances are, you’re not saved. God is gracious; but He’s not a rube.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21 NIV)
Faith is more than intellectual assent. One who has faith puts their trust in the object of their faith. If you don't have faith in that parachute’s ability to save you from plummeting to your death, you won't jump out of the plane. You may ardently and enthusiastically support the notion that this plane is going down and everyone needs to jump, but if, when the time comes, you don’t actually jump out of the airplane, what does that say about your faith in parachutes?
In the same way, if you have faith in Jesus, you’ll place your trust in Him. You’ll endeavour to obey Him because you’ll be confident that He intends good for you, not evil; and you’ll gradually increase that trust in Him as time goes by.
Will you screw that up? Absolutely! Daily! As you walk the narrow path, you’ll fall off every conceivable cliff and need Jesus to pick you up again every time. Will you doubt? Of course you will. There will be numerous occasions where you’ll need to declare “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV). You will not love Jesus and others as they should be loved. You will not be a flawless model of Christian obedience. The apostles didn’t manage this, what makes you think you can? Nonetheless, as long as our faith is sincere, saved we are – no matter how badly we screw up.
We are called to step out in faith and, in faith, we may want to leave it to God to work out the mechanics of salvation. We don’t know that we’re saved because of what we do, we know that we’re saved because our God always abides by His promises. We are saved by His grace through our faith. Faith means jumping, but it's the parachute that saves your life.
On Friday, January 26, Aurelia Brouwers drank poison and died. She was 29 years old.
In the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal for people with several conditions including severe mental illness, with which Aurelia had been diagnosed. She had tried and exhausted all reasonable options for treating the personality disorder, depression and occasional hallucinations from which she suffered, she said, but to no avail. Life for her was defined by suffering, and she no longer wanted to endure it.
The Dutch government believes that in such instances and under certain conditions, a person ought to be empowered to make such a choice. I won’t bother arguing with its wisdom here. Though I think such a policy to be unwise for social as well as biblical reasons, secular governments who have no interest in pleasing God are bound to make decisions that won’t. It’s the road we’re headed down, and unless we are able to change the hearts of those wielding the strings of power, we can, in my view, do little more than mitigate and delay our society’s inevitable fall from Grace.
It is a terrible tragedy though. As much as we’d like to follow the current zeitgeist into the belief that God is an ethereal, indefinite and compromising figure who will allow people to proceed into any form of eternity that they please regardless of the choices that they’ve made in life, it’s simply not true. An eternity in Heaven – i.e. an eternity in the presence of God – is preceded only by his own prescribed method whether we like it or not. That method is a relationship with one person, and only one person, Jesus Christ. Unless the media failed to provide one very critical (and seemingly incompatible) detail, we can assume that Aurelia missed her chance.
Could faith in Jesus have cured Aurelia’s condition? Had she come to Christ, it could have; Jesus works miracles. However, it’s also possible that this would have continued to be a challenge for her. Christians are not generally exempt from illness of any kind, physical or mental. Nonetheless, her belief that she had exhausted all options can’t be true: all currently viable medical options, perhaps, but not all options.
Faith in Jesus may or may not have cured Aurelia, but it would have certainly acquainted her with a God who suffers with his people, a God who endured such psychological anguish and stress that he literally sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane. She would have become acquainted with a God who knows how it feels to be lonely and abandoned, but who never abandons those who have pledged their lives to him.
From there, she most likely would have become acquainted with a gathering of highly flawed, but often compassionate and empathetic, believers who are all-too acquainted with suffering themselves. Aurelia could have found meaning in her suffering, rather than emptiness, loneliness and grief. She could have found healing.
Aurelia doesn’t appear to have found Jesus. One wonders if she was ever offered the opportunity.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.