Today I direct your attention to a post by Michael Spencer from several years back entitled “Looking For an Exit“.
Last week we discussed Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand as presented in the gospel of John. John makes the point that this attracted multitudes who followed Jesus not because they believed him to be who he said he was, but because they liked the show and they saw him as the answer to their political aspirations. When Jesus couldn’t physically remove himself from the crowd, he thinned the crowd by proceeding to teach some weird shit.
It worked. For many in the crowd, including several of the disciples, they heard Jesus say “Eat my flesh and drink my blood” and that was it for them. They just couldn’t anymore.
This goes against the picture many of us have of Jesus’ closest followers. We think of them as basically an easy sell, living in the Judean backwoods with nothing much going on and then some rabbi shows up and wants them to follow him and they’re all in. Yet the reality is that many days probably ended with long discussions around the fire, lasting well into the night with one disciple or more trying to talk some other disciple or more out of leaving, or with the next morning coming to find that some disciple or another had packed his stuff and left during the night.
It is the same way in evangelicalism. We tend to think of everyone in our communities as already convinced and already on board when the reality is that we just don’t know the real life struggles which others around us are facing, some of whom may be approaching or at the point of “I can’t do this anymore”. We are accustomed to believing that good theology or apologetics cures all ills. Yet for many people in many seasons, theology and/or apologetics just aren’t enough.
Peter says, “Yes, it’s difficult sometimes, but where else and to whom else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Where else can we go is a great response. It’s honest and authentic. It doesn’t make Christianity a game of “How many questions can be answered?” No, it’s a matter of WHO Jesus is, and despite the mystery, the challenge, the intimidation and the difficulty, who else comes to us as God on earth, with the words of eternal life?
…For all those who are looking for the next place to “get off” the path of following Jesus and/or being a Christian, their is no list of answers. There is only one who overwhelms all questions and answers; one to whom we ultimately say “Even with all my objections and reservations, where else could I go, Jesus, except to you.”