Monday, 2 January 2012

The Gravity of Jesus

I'm reading a book at the moment, and right now it's discussing the various responses we saw to Jesus at Christmas, and the responses we still see every day.
At Christmas, there is a beautiful contrast between the visitors of Jesus when he was born. The wise men or Magi were astrologer priests from what was the Persian Empire at the time, and could not have been more different from the shepherds. The shepherds were Jewish and the Magi were gentiles. The shepherds were poor, uneducated, simple people, who survived only by their love and understanding of animals. The Magi were scholars, and rich ones at that, judging by their gifts.
Imagine Stephen Fry, Noam Chomsky and Stephen Hawking arriving at the same time as a bunch of Somali pirates. This really was the ultimate mix of social haves and have-nots.

But this shows us something about the Christian faith. It shows us the unrivalled breadth of its appeal, the nature of its God as the ultimate Welcomer, the absolute certainty of the truth in Romans 2v11, that God does not show favouritism.
And we see the fruits of this all over the world today. It becomes increasingly clear that almost all religions are more or less ethnic. You would be more surprised to see a white Australian Sikh, perhaps, or a West Indian Hindu than an Indian Christian. Christianity is the only religion I am aware of which bucks this trend; it is absolutely not a white man's religion. In fact, about 80% of the world's Christians are non-white and non-Western. That amounts, according to my hasty calculations, to 1.76 billion people who are non-white, non-Western Christians. In fact, the country with the most Christians in the world is the USA, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, the Phillipines, Nigeria, DR Congo, China (the fastest growing Church in the world), Italy, Ethiopia, Germany and Britain.

Why is this? Coincidence? It'd be a big one. Or is it the universal appeal of Jesus? The gravitational pull of a God who transcends all, yet chooses for the sake of love, for the sake of us, to enter our world as helpless and leave it triumphant? The same pull that brought the shepherds from their fields and the Magi from the East? The same pull that draws in people of all cultures every single day, providing one of the most convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world?
I rather think the latter.

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