Twenty-four years ago this month I learned something specific. The specificity of what I learned is what makes it, to many, offensive.
Twenty-four years ago a hitchiking jaunt around Europe brought me one afternoon to a church in Dublin. I was intrigued by Eastern religions at the time, particularly Hinduism, but was theologically open-minded enough to appreciate Christian art and architecture.
The light in the church was dim, and I blinked to adjust my eyes. Wandering toward the back, I encountered a statue of Jesus, who stood marble-white with arms held low, palms open. On his chest the sculptor had depicted his heart, twined with thorns and springing with flames. The base of the statue was inscribed: "Behold the heart that so loved mankind."
Here's the part I can't explain. I remember looking at the statue, but I don't remember falling to my knees. Then I felt an interior presence forming the words, "I am your life."
Twenty-four years ago I learned that Jesus is my Lord. But that's not the offensive part. Soon thereafter, reading Scriptures and learning from other Christians, I discovered that Jesus is everybody's Lord, whether they know it or not.
As I write those words, I think of how rude they sound. It's a hard thing to say; as soon as the idea of objective religious truth is proposed, touchy offense rises up in alarm.
But I keep trying. Not long ago I was one of a dozen speakers invited, in a secular context, to talk about what we find spiritually nurturing. I told the story of my conversion, then invited my listeners to learn more for themselves. If the Christian faith is your heritage, I said, explore it—there's always more to discover. If the Christian faith is not your heritage, I went on, explore it—Christianity ...1
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