When we lived on 13th Street and had very tall oak trees on all four corners of our house, we had a bat drop in for a visit one summer. Let me tell you, it’s very freaky to have a BAT in your house! It took a day or two to get him out because, of course, he only came out at night, and it was a frightening experience all around, with all his swooping down at our heads while we screamed and chased him around with bed sheets, trying to shoo him out the front door.
The first night no one saw it but me. Chelsea was in her room and Chuck and Cameron were at a Royals game. I told them all about it, and they believed me. All day the next day Cameron walked through the house with his hand shadowing his eyes, lest he catch sight of the horrid winged creature. He did this, even though he had never seen the bat for himself. I had told him that I saw it, though, and he believed me.
After this episode I started thinking about how easily we can apply this experience to the historical account of the beginning of Christianity. I often think of the disciples and wonder how anyone can doubt the truth of the Christian faith, based on their testimonies and the lengths to which they went in spreading that truth, even choosing to die for it rather than recant.
When I think of the type of men Jesus chose for His disciples and apostles, I see that He chose some very credible men. Luke and Paul, for example, were both educated men, certainly no fools. Luke was not only a physician by trade but also a noted historian as well. Paul was educated in matters of the law, an intelligent man. Their lives, and the lives of their brothers in Christ, were spent, poured out for the cause of the Gospel. They poured out their lives for what they—not just believed—but knew to be true.
1 Corinthians 15:3: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co:15:4: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co:15:5: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
1Co:15:6: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
1Co:15:7: After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1Co:15:8: And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co:15:9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Take a look at that last verse. I believe that Paul was an even more credible witness for Christ because of his background. He, in essence, had to admit that he was wrong, that his convictions had been misplaced.
How credible a witness are we? How do we live our lives? Do we live like we actually believe what we preach? Do we live like the Gospel is just something to which we mouth allegiance on Sundays or is it the very essence of our life?
A final Scripture that kind of ties into this is Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
As Christians, truth should always be on our lips. Never should we be caught in a lie, a white lie, a half truth, an unfulfilled (or forgotten) promise. If we tell someone we are going to do something, we better make sure that is the thing we do. I think it’s best not to promise anything in the absolute because as the Bible says we should not boast of tomorrow since we don’t know what tomorrow holds. I think we should pepper our speech with “As far as I know I will be able to do such and such” or “I will try my best to do such and such…”
The only time we can deal in absolutes is when we are dealing with the Gospel of Christ, and then we can be absolutely certain that it is the absolute truth. The disciples died for what they knew to be true. They knew it was true because they were there and they saw the risen Lord firsthand. The people they told believed them then, and I believe them now.