When I was studying at University my friend Thomas who was agnostic and I were travelling towards the students’ residence. We were coming back from University after a long day, exhausted, longing for the comfort of our bed. Thomas looked at me and spoke suddenly. “Do you know what I hate about Christians?” I looked at him calmly, quite surprised. “No Thomas please tell me, what is it that you hate about Christians?”. He seemed quite taken back by this response and said, “Well it’s the way they live, they just don’t seem to have any fun; it’s such a boring way to live. Who would ever want to live that way; it seems like such a huge waste. And what’s even worse is that they expect other people to think and live like themselves. “I paused, reflecting on his comments as he seemed quite sincere and I genuinely liked Thomas.
I looked him in the eyes. “May I ask you something Thomas?” I asked gently. “Sure” he replied immediately. “If I fed you when you were hungry, offered you something to drink when you were thirsty, clothed you when you were naked, visited you when you were sick, offered you a bed when you were homeless, do you think that these would reflect beautiful acts of compassion crowned in love?” Thomas looked at me perplexed “Why of course” he replied. I then let these words sink in before replying “What if even within my mind, heart and soul I would express a spirit of forgiveness, mercy and love towards you, never wished you any harm, covet your partner or possessions, yet yearned for that which is best for you, even laying down my life for you, that you may live. Would you agree that these thoughts and actions are noble, pure and beautiful indeed, especially when done out of self-sacrifice, without any expectation of reward out of love for you?” Thomas looked at me bewildered. “Why of course that’s a great way to live”. I paused in silence, looked down at the floor smiling sadly before raising my head and then looked my dear friend in the eyes. “But that is the way of life in Christ, the way that Christians endeavour to live; that is which I aspire to be, despite all my failures and imperfections. How is it possible that you cherish the fruits of Christianity yet hate its source in Christ?”
Thomas’s face changed somewhat and looked quite troubled unsure about something turning over in his mind. “I …I don’t know” he replied hesitantly. I looked at him lovingly and spoke from the heart. “I can only tell you of what I have experienced. Most people partake of the fruits of Christianity but don’t like to acknowledge the source. Why, because they are afraid to change their way of life, not wanting to give up something that is self-serving, temporarily satisfying the passions, or feel that Christianity will shackle them with responsibilities and burdens that would suffocate them. On the contrary, my experience is that when one sincerely believes and yearns to live in Christ so that the love of Christ transforms the vacant throne within one’s mind, heart and soul, then, and only then is one truly free from the superficial existence and materialism that has been shackling them all their life. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.