The Gambler

So it started with a question. The question was: if I were at the tomb three days after Christ had been crucified and saw that the stone had been rolled away and Jesus was not there, how would I react? Would I be happy, would I be confused or surprised, or would I be sad? What would be my reaction to seeing a Christ-less tomb?

This question was asked of me by my daughter. After I picked up my jaw off the floor at the depth and seriousness of her question, I told her that I would hope that I would be happy. If I was happy that would mean that I believed Christ when He told me He was coming back, that I would have understood all of His stories, all of His cryptic messages, I would have interpreted it all and rather than be completely dumbfounded like His disciples were when He came back, I would be happy.

And I told my daughter that I would hope that I would be happy, but that I would most likely be surprised because I’m a skeptic. I don’t believe things just because I’ve been told them, I have to figure them out for myself and I have to see things for myself. In a lot of the stories we read in the Bible, people just heard. They heard there was a man doing miraculous things. They heard there was a man who turned water into wine, they heard there was a man who fed thousands with 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread, they heard that there was a man who made the blind see. And they believed. For some, they believed after some skepticism. And good for them for wanting to make sure that what they were hearing was not a fairytale, was not a scam. They wanted to make sure for themselves that these things were actually happening. But after Jesus was gone, his disciples spread the word of what He had done while He was here. And people believed. And people believed. And still believe to this day regardless of the fact that they haven’t seen it for themselves. Someone else saw it, somebody wrote it down and Christians believe it to be true.

And I have a hard time with that. I openly and honestly question “faith.” And I told my daughter that I have a hard time with it because we’ve been told that Jesus will come back. Many people have been told for many years and for many generations that Jesus will be coming back. It hasn’t happened yet. I’m NOT saying that it won’t, I’m just saying that it hasn’t happened yet after all this time. My concern is that if Jesus were to come back now, how would we know that it was Him? Would he turn water into wine? I’d probably send Him to Mythbusters first to make sure He really started with water and that the water really became wine. Would He walk on water? Illusionists have done that before. Just because you’re there watching it doesn’t mean it’s real. We know it’s not real, or we think it’s not real, but our eyes deceive us. Would He heal someone who was sick? We’ve seen ministers on TV who have a parishioner with an illness. The whole congregation prays, the minister touches the person and the individual is healed. So what is it that Jesus can do to prove to us that He is who He says He is?

If a strange man walked up to me and said, “I am the Son of God, I am your Savior, and I’m back. Drop everything, quit your job, sell your possessions, move out of your house and follow me…” Yeah, I wouldn’t be so sure of him. My best guess is that I’d say, “No, thank you,” walk away and keep an eye on him to make sure he’s not trying to pull that on somebody else! So that makes me a doubter, a skeptic, just like Jesus’ disciples who didn’t believe He was who He said He was when He came back. What could Jesus do to prove to us that He is the Son of God? In a time when we have seen many people follow someone they thought was working on God’s behalf and they got hurt or died, it’s hard to not be skeptical. Just because someone says, “I’m working for God, I’ve heard what God wants us to do, follow me, I’m the way” doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean that person is who they say they are. What makes this guy so different? What would make me believe this guy over the last one?

A big part of me wouldn’t want me to get my hopes up, like playing the lottery. You can’t win if you don’t play, right? You’re not going to get to follow Christ wherever He goes if you don’t believe Him. But just because you play doesn’t mean you’ll win. Just because I drop everything and follow this man who says he’s Christ doesn’t mean He is Christ. Doesn’t mean that we’re all going to see the second coming of Christ happen right before our eyes. Like playing the lottery, when the winning amount gets really high, we’re likely to lose ourselves in the thoughts of what we could do with the winnings. “I could pay off my house.” “I could buy a house.” “I could pay for my child’s college.” “I could go back to college myself.” “I could start a foundation.” “I could start a charity.” “I could give to my church.” “I wouldn’t have to worry when my parents start getting older and need more care.” These things go through our minds when we see how much money we could win. If we play. And we can lose sight of how much money we won’t win. The chances of me being the only person to win are very slim. So I don’t play. I don’t play so I don’t get hurt.

Some might say that playing is harmless. You put a dollar in, there goes a dollar you didn’t win. True, but that is still a dollar I still could have given to the man standing on the onramp to the freeway. That dollar might have been the dollar that was needed in my church to help one extra kid experience camp. That one dollar could do a lot of good. Good in my city, in my state, in my country, in my world. That dollar could do a lot of good for other people. If I don’t play it, I could use it somewhere else. If I do play it, I could earn many more dollars. I could. But I don’t know for sure. There’s no guarantee. If I follow the man who tells me he is Christ and it turns out he’s not, how much of that time I spent with him could have been spent at my church or in my community. How much of that time did I waste when I could have been watching for the real Christ?

If someone were to come up to me and say, “I am Christ, follow me," would I, should I, drop everything? Do I quit my job which gives me health insurance for myself and my child, the job that gives me the money to pay for food for myself and my child? Do I drop everything in the hopes that the person I’m following is who He says He is?  Do I drop everything, put in my dollar, cross my fingers and hope that this one is the one? That my time and money will be well spent, well sacrificed, because this one’s the right one this time?

When is the right time to play?


…so I ended up comparing Jesus to the lottery. I’m fairly certain I’d be going to Hell if I believed in it.

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