By Joel A. Hess –
Remember those stereograms that were popular a couple decades ago? What better way to eat a bunch of time in the mall while you wait for your family to buy school clothes. At first glance, the picture looks like a bunch of gibberish—random dots and colors. But if you stare at a certain spot and relax your eyes, a three-dimensional image appears.
That’s how many non-Christians think of Christianity—a bunch of gibberish. They see rules, pastors waving their hands and talking, leaders putting their hands on president Trump and praying, various stories about a giant fish, flood, miracles and Jesus on the cross. They may conclude that Christianity is a bunch of rules, or a political party, a benevolence organization, etc. They don’t get it.
I think there are plenty of Christians who look at Christianity like that as well.
The first disciples probably did too, before they were visited by Jesus after the resurrection. They saw Jesus do miracles, teach powerfully, confront the Pharisees, hangout with the poor, die on the cross and heard rumors he was alive. But it was a bunch of gibberish.
Two disciples walked home from Jerusalem bewildered. Ten disciples locked themselves in a upper room scared. Even after finding out Jesus rose from the dead, God’s will, the universe, and their own lives looked like an unsolved stereogram—gibberish.
Simply witnessing the resurrected Jesus was not actually enough. It’s cool. It freaked them out. But it did not cause belief or understanding. It was just one more mystery to the kaleidoscope of the universe.
So, like the salesman at the stereogram kiosk, Jesus guided their eyes, minds and hearts to see the beautiful 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. dimensional treasure that is God’s will, the meaning of the universe, the mystery of the ages.
He said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-48).
Like the 3D picture in the mall, to understand Genesis to Revelation, this crazy universe, God, and even yourself and your place in the cosmos, you need to focus on that one thing, and everything else falls into place.
And not just any Jesus, but the crucified and risen Jesus! Jesus always says, “It is necessary that the Christ must suffer.” That was the stumbling block. That was the nonsense. That stopped the Emmaus disciples from believing and all the self-proclaimed heroes in the upper room.
Every mystery in the universe, let alone the heart and will of God makes sense only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Keep your eye on that!
For in that act the heart of God is revealed. He loves sinners, adulterers, abortionists, liars, cheaters, thieves, betrayers, and deniers. In Him is complete and total forgiveness. In Christ is peace. In Christ is hope. In Christ is life! Eternal life.
Nothing else really matters. Sure, we will still suffer in this world and maybe even because we are a Christian. So what! The victory is won. We will rise. Sure, we may fall down, screw up, get screwed up, fall off the wagon and get back on. We are forgiven. He forgives us still.
Keeping our eyes on the crucified and risen Jesus illuminates us, our path, our purpose, our destiny. Sin and illness are not the end, but opportunities for beginnings! Looking at the world through Him does the same. We don’t see dogs eating dogs; we see people sinning and being sinned against, lacking love and needing a savior.
Notice the disciples kept on forgetting what they learned. It was not enough that Jesus visited them once after He rose. He continued to, seemingly every Sunday until He ascended!
So, He continues to visit us, through His Church, His pastor, our brothers and sisters in Christ! Pointing our eyes to Him, to the cross and the empty tomb. So when we get lost in the nonsense of the world, He refocuses our eyes upon Him the author and perfecter of our faith as the writer of Hebrews professes.
Until one day we will see that image face to face, no longer by faith. We will see who we really are, glorious perfect creatures without subconscious motives or selfish desires. We will see the resurrected dead. We will see Christianity in 3D for good.