Visits From A Man Named Nobody 51

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 51

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“That’s a different problem, but repenting before God is only the highest form of repentance. You sought forgiveness from Stacy, which, apparently, she gave, at least to some degree.”

The car continued along the freeway as Paul considered what his mother said. Was that what he was after? He didn’t think so. “I wasn’t after forgiveness, Mom.”

“You were probably trying to be punished because you know what you did was wrong.” Her already normally soft voice was whisper quiet. She was sad about something. It was probably because Paul wanted punishment.

“I think people should pay for what they do,” Paul said. “I think they should get what they deserve.”

“I sincerely hope not,” his mother replied. “I want to give mercy, and I want to receive mercy. I know exactly what I deserve, and that’s why mercy is so wonderful.”

“You deserve to be happy!” The comment came out in a sort of muttered growl.

“And I don’t deserve to be punished for letting your father do what he did to us?” Paul’s head jerked at the question, which came out much more like an accusation.

“You were the victim!”

“And yet I let him do as much to you.”

Paul shut his eyes and took a deep breath. He hadn’t forgotten how he’d treated her as a child. He did whatever he wanted and expected her to let him. Then he got angry at her for giving him exactly what he wanted. It never made any sense. It only got better when he and Jordan became friends. 

“That’s not the same,” Paul said.

“It can’t be both ways, Paul. We either all get everything we deserve, or we all need mercy. But I’m of the opinion that if everyone got exactly what they deserve, we’d all be in a great deal of agony. And before you make some crass extreme counterargument, I acknowledge that some people are far more evil than others, but that’s not my point.”

“There is no one who is good,” Paul said.

“That’s,” she paused in shock. “That’s exactly right. Have you been reading the Bible?”

He’d never even considered telling her before this moment. It never came up. “I read the whole thing around the time he was arrested.” Paul refused to speak his name, and he’d die a million times over before he acknowledged that man as his father. 

Not that it worked. He was literally just like him, and he deserved exactly what that man got. 

A memory flashed in Paul’s mind. It was the night of Nobody’s first visit. The bastard had passed out drunk, and a bottle had tipped over. Paul set it right to be positive the alcoholic wouldn’t trip and hurt himself.

“Paul, are you there?” He’d been years away in the past and hadn’t heard his mother.

“Sorry,” he said. “I zoned out for a second.”

“I was asking why you read the Bible then?” 

That answer would lead to a lot of other questions. Paul had eluded to Nobody once or twice, but he’d never told the whole story. As he thought, he figured he should have lied to his mother, saying he’d read the Bible after he got close to Bill, but he couldn’t bring himself to lie to his mother or about Bill.

“I was looking for answers.” That was at least a part of the truth. “I didn’t find any. I read the whole thing. I think I’ve read it two or three times, but I don’t believe any of it.”

“Because of what happened to Bill.” She said it as gently as she could given her tone, but talking about Bill was always a way to get Paul angry. 

“Yes.” Maybe by being curt, she’d know to change the subject.

“We can’t accept just part of the Word,” she emphasized the capital. “It’s all true. It’s true that he’s sovereign. It’s true that he’s loving. It’s true that he’s the righteous judge, and it’s true that he calls us when it’s our time. We don’t get to pick when, and, to be honest, I don’t know that we’d ever accept the explanation even if he bothered to give it to us.”

“That part is for certain,” Paul muttered. 

“I’m going to ask about this girl now to shift the subject.”

Paul laughed. She could have just done it.

“I’m not doing it because I’m afraid or unwilling to debate or discuss this with you,” she explained. “I doing it because I’m trying to be patient. You’ve been patient, hearing what I’ve had to say. I think any more on this subject would just be an argument neither of us wants.”

“Yeah,” Paul admitted.

“I imagine Stacy is willing to allow you this chance to change,” his mother said. 

“But why? If I’m capable of doing what I did tonight, what else am I capable of?” And there it was. The last part of his question came out in whine of agony. He was a monster. He should be locked up before he hurt anyone. He wouldn’t be sorry if a bolt of lightning struck him down.  He needed to be punished. He needed to be stopped before he became that man.

“We’re all capable of horrible things, Paul,” his mother said. He couldn’t know for certain without activating the holographic feature of his PID, but he thought he heard a smile in her voice. “But you’re every bit as capable of becoming a kind, loving, patient man. If she’s ever willing to talk to you, maybe ask her why she was so willing to give you such precious gift as her own body. Why was she willing to be your girlfriend? I imagine it’s because she saw the man you could be, the other man you could be. I just wish you’d focus on becoming that man instead of avoiding the other.”

Paul glanced out the window as he ran a hand down his face to dry his tears. He caught the exit to his school from the corner of his eye, but he needed to admit something to his mother. “I’m so afraid of being him.”

“But if you focus on him, so that’s your target,” she said. “You have so many better options to focus on.” 

“Bill is the only better option I have, maybe Jordan or his dad,” Paul said. “I don’t know about so many other options.”

“I do,” his mother replied. “You’ve read the Bible. You have Enoch and Noah, Moses and David, the apostles and, most importantly, Jesus.”

“I thought you were changing the subject.” Paul muttered.

“I did, for an entire minute.” She sounded pleased at her quip. “And before you argue about it for the sake of arguing, go back and look at just one of those people. Would it really be so bad to be like them?”

Paul opened his mouth to say, “yes,” but that lie wouldn’t form on his lips either.

“Then there’s Paul,” his mother said. “Now there’s a case I think you could study. You could ask yourself why he called himself the foremost sinner, and yet he was still chosen to be an apostle to the Gentiles.”

Paul didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t either start an argument or get more Bible references. His contemplative moment turned into a period of silence.

“I’ll leave you to think on it now, but I hope you will,” his mother said. “We didn’t name you after the apostle, but you seem to focus on the punishments people deserved. It would do you some good to see the value of what mercy can do.”

“Ok,” Paul said.

“Thank you.”

Wait? Did she take that as a promise to look into it? “Mom —”

“I’m sure you’re near the school now, and you should see if Stacy is willing to talk to you,” his mother said.

“Mom, I —”

“I’ll talk to you later. I love you always, my son.”

She hung up. That was a dirty trick! She hung up before he could explain he was only acknowledging that he’d heard her. He shook his head. He didn’t actually promise her anything, and she knew it. He wasn’t obligated to study any of that stuff.

The car indeed pulled off the exit and started to pull around to one of the campus’s entrances. 

… to be continued …

Musings on Christianity 45

Musings on Christianity 45

Why Should I Listen To A Book Written By Men?

The next conflict we must resolve before we can truly look at obedience to Christ is that of the men who wrote the Bible. Perhaps you believe in a God. Perhaps you even believe in Christ, but you draw the line there because the Apostles, prophets, and other Biblical authors were mortal men.

The Christian belief is that the truth is God wrote the Bible. He filled His mortal authors with the Spirit who put the words of the Bible in the minds of His instruments.

But what happens if we don’t want to accept that in faith.

That argument doesn’t actually have merit. If you believe in a God who created the Heavens and the Earth and all the host of them (Genesis 2:1), you then have to acknowledge that God can also place words in the minds of His chosen. Moses, credited as the author of the first five books of the Bible, even argued that he was unfit to lead Israel because he wasn’t so good with words.

God replied, “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak (Exodus 4:12).”

The Bible is no different.

Even if one insisted on believing in God as He is portrayed in the Bible, but refuses to acknowledge the authors of that same Bible, one must remember that those authors were still chosen representatives of God.

Moses, Samuel, the judges, the prophets, David, and Solomon  were all chosen by God to be His representatives. He attested to many of them through prophecies, miracles, or both. Therefore, even if those men wrote the Bible as men, they were still the men God chose to spread his word.

So we return to the fundamental choice. You either believe, or you don’t. If you, then, choose to believe in God, you must then respect and submit to those he selected as His representatives, even as mortal men. God would not choose men and then allow them to speak falsely of Him. He certainly wouldn’t endorse those men with miracles if they were not indeed speaking truth on behalf of the LORD.

The same is true of the new testament. Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul were all personally chosen representatives of Christ, Apostles. Mark was essentially Peter’s biographer, and Luke was a historian, documenting the actions of brothers. James and Jude were Christ’s biological brothers.

One can not acknowledge Christ as their lord and master and then refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Apostles Christ commanded to establish the body. The temptation is to refuse that authority so they can reject the commandments established by scripture. To want to follow Christ, but refuse to follow His very first disciples, is simply hypocritical.

Those who choose to follow Christ, submit to Him, and through Him those He appointed to lead and teach the gospel on Earth, must submit to the commandments left by Christ through his Apostles regardless of their humanity. Christ named Peter as the stone on which the church would be built. If Christ chose to build his church on Peter, who then are we to ignore that stone?

My theory is that those who want to take this path do so because the Apostles categorically deny actions and lifestyles that today’s society wants to embrace. How can someone reconcile religion with today’s tolerant society? The only way to do that would be to try and deny the words of those God the Father and God the Son chose to minister to humanity, and we simply can’t do that. This means we must acknowledge their authority.

There may be debate over translations. There may be arguments over application, but there can not be any denial of their authority without also denying the God who gave such authority.

One may rebut this assertion by saying anyone can do anything and claim it is in the name of God. That happens all the time. I don’t deny that happens, but I remind you that the Biblical authors were all authenticated by prophecy, miracles, or both. Indeed anyone (just look at this very book) can write whatever they want. Some may even go so far as to say they’re writing the words of a God. The Bible even tells us the Antichrist himself will come and perform miracles and wonders. The difference there is the Bible warns us about these individuals. When Christ returns, everyone will know in that moment. He’ll come with the army of Heaven like a steak of lighting that stretches across they sky (Matthew 24:27).

Christ’s chosen were authenticated by Christ Himself, and Christ authenticated their ministry with miracles and wonders, many of which occurred even before the Passion.

This brings us back again to the ultimate yes or no question. You can choose to believe in Christ and submit to Him, and in doing so, His chosen Apostles, or you can choose to reject Christ. Once more we see that one can not try and do both. There is no middle ground in this respect.

For our panel: What other reasons would there be for people to want to believe in Christ but reject the Bible? Are the words of the Apostles (or other Biblical authors) truly trustworthy even though they are only men?  What evidence is there that those who wrote the Bible truly did so while filled by the Spirt of God Himself? What if someone today started writing, proclaiming to be doing the same thing? If the Antichrist is said to come and perform miracles, how can we trust the miracles of the Apostles and other Biblical authors?