Faith is often idly measured in a hypothetical situation where a maniac holds a gun to your head and tells you to deny that Christ is Lord. “How can I do that?” you say passionately. “That would be like denying that the sky is blue.” It is an unshakeable fact and your willingness to profess it makes you a good Christian.
Honestly, if a maniac held a gun to my head and told me to deny that the sky is blue, I would comply. I would name the sky whatever color he wanted. Yes, it is an unshakeable fact that the sky is blue, but what do you gain by arguing? You won’t convince him and you’ll be dead.
The reason I would refuse to deny Christ is not because His Lordship is a fact (even though it is). It is because He is my friend, He died for me, and to lie about Him would be to deny that friendship.
Last year, after I read NT Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God,” I had a moment of realization. It was like that moment when I understood that my grandparents are in fact my parents’ parents. Suddenly, history becomes real. I was listening to a talk on Philippians, where Paul tells the saints they are required to have the mind of Christ, Wright’s words were bouncing around in my head, and in that moment I realized the enormity of the fact that Jesus was a man. What is more natural to man than uncertainty? Jesus was tempted just as we are (Heb. 4:15), which means that the decision to flee His death and look for some other way was tempting. He feared death. He feared separation from God. But He had faith. Why would I agree with someone who tells me that this man doesn’t exist? I have good friends who sacrifice themselves for me in a thousand small ways every day. If someone suggested one of them didn’t exist, or used their name as a curse, I would be an ungrateful friend if I didn’t speak up. If a maniac held a gun to my head and told me to deny that my mother is my mother, I would refuse. Not because it would be a lie to agree, but because it would be an insult.
That man, the one who lived in Israel two thousand years ago, Jesus, who is God introduced, was obedient to death. Every second I exist I reap the fruit of His obedience. That is a friend that I would stand by. It would be an insult to do otherwise.