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2021 online sermons » Ravi Zacharias » Ravi Zacharias - Jesus Among Other Gods

Ravi Zacharias - Jesus Among Other Gods



Well, it's a delight to be here at Yale. I've always wanted to be here to tell you one of the stories I heard when I was at the University of Delhi about a graduation speaker at Yale. So you might have heard it. For those of you who haven't, you might be entertained a bit by it. Story's told of a graduation speaker at Yale who wanted to take the acronym of Yale and took his first point as: Y for youth. Spoke on it for 30 minutes. A for ambition: another 25 minutes. L for leadership: another 20 minutes. And as he began his fourth one, enthusiasm, one student leaned over and said, "Thank God I didn't go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology". We used to periodically hear that during graduation speakers out there. I won't say anymore than that: shall resist.

Another cute story that involves a conversation between a Texan and an Indian. The Texas rancher talking to an Indian farmer. So, the Texan looks at him, a man from Punjab, and he says, "Mr. Singh, how big is your farm"? And the Punjabi gentleman looked at him and said, "You know, if you just look straight ahead out there, you see that lamp post? My farm is about as long that way as it is wide that way. That's about the size of my farm". And the Texan said, "You know, Mr. Singh, how big my ranch is? If you got into my car at 9 in the morning and started driving and driving and driving, somewhere around noon you'd reach the end of my property line. And the Indian said, "I know exactly how you feel. I used to have a car just like that".

This world of cross-cultural communication, an awful lot can be lost in the ideas we share, the metaphors we use, the metanarratives we assume and so on. And the challenge I find, even in a setting such as this, is that you're really being asked to deal with a very deep subject within a short span of time. You wish you could take 40 minutes for the first point and 30 minutes for the second and 25 for the third and go on and on endlessly. But I'm not sure you will necessarily accomplish what you're trying to do. One thing you can do with a length of time is at least deal with questions that emerge with each thought that you are sharing. So, I want to thank you, first of all, for being here. I have no doubt in an audience this size there are many worldviews represented. There are many religions represented. And the hard thing about a conversation on matters as volatile as the subject on hand, is that one has to be very careful that in an attempt to be clear and precise you don't end up offending the person in the process.

My mother used to say, "Once you cut off a person's nose there's no point giving them a rose to smell". So, whatever I want to do I do not want to bring offense to you because these are sensitive subjects and sometimes these are subjects of your heritage, your belief, and things that are very dear to you. As Sam was introducing me, I was born and raised in India so let me tell you just a little bit about myself. I hail from the southern part of India, the deep south, the state of Kerala, although I never actually lived there. My dad was from Kerala: my mom was from the south in Chennai. I was raised in Delhi.

So, my ancestry goes back into the south although I lived in the north and the languages are quite different. Tamil is as different from Hindi as English is from Hebrew. I speak Hindi fairly well and Tamil I'm quite comfortable with. But just to say to you that my ancestors go back to the highest caste of the Hindu priesthood. The Hindu term and coming from a heritage such as that, to come down through generations with somewhere five generations ago on one side and seven generations ago on the other side, commitment took place to the person of Christ and we were then nominally called Christians.

Was I raised in a Christian home? Nominally. Had I ever opened the Bible? No. Could I have quoted a single verse to you? No. We were just there as cultural Christians until I came through a very dramatic and critical experience in my late teens which completely changed my life. Since then my pursuit has taken me in the study of religion and religious dialogue and dealing with worldviews of a different stripe. I spend a lot of my time overseas. I'm actually on the road about 240 days a year, talking to muslim scholars, Hindu scholars, Buddhist scholars and I interact with them on some of the more critical questions that bring about our distinctives. I want to start off with two principal ideas that are indispensable in your personal search. I can guarantee you that if you are genuinely an honest student, you're looking for at least two things.

And let me illustrate it for you this way before drawing the deduction. During my days at Cambridge, I remember taking my family to attend a court session at the old daily. My daughter at that time thought she may go into law and she wanted to see a trial in process and any one you has visited old daily will know that you can just walk into one of those quiet areas there, the top and one of those booths there and sit down and observe what's going on. The only time you can be blocked out is if you are underage and the case in session is dealing with a very sensitive issue of sexuality or rape, something of that nature. As it happened our children were very young and we walked into a setting where two little girls had accused a man of raping them.

So, my children and my two younger ones had to leave. The older girl was able to stay there and I watched it. And it was amazing to watch how the case was unfolding. As the charges were read and you could see the man against whom the charges were being brought, you began to feel so uneasy and so troubled by what he was being accused of. You couldn't see the two little girls because they were really minors but the defense lawyer could see them on the screen, as could the prosecutor and he would be talking to them and you could hear their voices. They were in a different room. And as the charges unfolded and the case was being made, you could see how strong the case was.

Then the defense lawyer stood up and he walked over to the screen and he said this, he said, "Can you two girls hear me clearly"? They said, "Yes, we can". He said, "I want you to know there is only one thing I'm interested in. Nothing more than that. The truth". He said, "That's all I want from you and if you're uncomfortable with something I ask you, you can tell me that. If you don't know the answer, you can tell me that. But I want you to tell me the truth to what both of you know". And he began his questioning. Then, suddenly, a turn came in the questioning and he said this: "From when this incident happened to when you brought the charges after you told your parents, about 2-1/2 months had gone by, is that right"? "That's right". "Is it true that on the day you told your parents this man saw you in such and such a place and shocked at seeing you there, he told you that he was going to go straight to your parents' home at the end of the day and tell them what you both were up to. Is that true"?

There was a moment of silence and one of them said, "I can't remember". And the other one sort of dodged the issue and you could tell what had happened on that day on that question. The answer was probably in the affirmative. And as soon as that happened, I remember sitting there and putting my head down and saying to myself, "What on earth is the truth"? And I remember my daughter coming out of there and she said, "Dad, something's not right about this story, is there"? I said, "No, honey, but remember, sometimes a person in order to defend his client, may intimidate the person, may build all kinds of issues and so on because you hear of this". But one thing was for sure. You desperately wanted to know the truth. And you can't always get at it. But what is more important and pertinent in trying to understand this is not just truth but relevance. You and I in our pursuit in life can ask the questions of truth but we also ask the questions of relevance and relevance goes beyond just the idea of what is the meaning of life.

Yes, you can attempt to answer that, bring together components in which truth and wonder and love and security and all of that may be brought together, but at the end of each day, your religious pursuit or your pursuit of what is ultimate, assumes that you find relevance in that belief. But then you have to check out that relevance against the truth because relevance without truth makes truth immaterial and possibly relevance, irrelevant. These two lines have to converge in the days of your scholarship and in the days of critical analysis of the worldview that you are going to espouse. Malcom Muggeridge whom I had the privilege of meeting before he died, Muggeridge was a hedonist and is the best of his days changed so much of his pursuit towards his latter days and he was in his eighties when I visited him in his home in england and we spent the afternoon together.

Muggeridge, who was a media man, wrote this: "In this Sargasso sea of fantasy and fraud, how can I or anyone else hope to swim unencumbered? How can I learn to see with, and not just through, the eye? How can I take off my own motley, wash away the makeup, raise the iron shutter, put out the studio lights, silence the sound effects, and put the cameras to sleep? Can I ever watch the sun rise on sunset boulevard, and the sun set over forest lawn? Will I ever find real furniture among the studio props, silence in a discotheque, love in a strip tease? Read truth off an auto cue, catch it on a screen, chase it on the wings of muzak? View it in living color with the news, hear it in living sound along the motorways? No, not in the wind that rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks: not in the earthquake that followed, nor in the fire that followed the earthquake. I think I could probably hear it in that still, small voice. Not in the screeching of tires, either, or in the grinding of brakes: nor in the roar of jets or the whistle of sirens, or the howl of trombones, or the rattle of drums, or the chanting of demo voices. Again and again and again. I long for that still, small voice, if one could only catch it".

The voice of truth. How can I find truth in this caphony of sounds and a world that is inundating you and me with what is possibly the worst kind of pollution: noise. We hear it and at the end of each day are not sure whether we can process it all. It was Justin Hayward in his along the moody blues from my generation who said this: "Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at the door? With a thousand million questions about hate and death and war, 'cause when we stop and look around us, there's nothing that we need. In a world of persecution that is whirling in its greed. Why do we never get an answer when we are knocking at the door"? That pursuit is very real and that pursuit is, I think, what leads us so often into the struggle with contradiction. Why is Christianity so exclusive? It's an interesting question. It assumes that Islam is not. It assumes that Hinduism is not. It assumes that Buddhism is not. It assumes that naturalism is not. All of these worldviews exclude.

Gautama Buddha was born a Hindu and he denied two of the fundamental doctrines of Hinduism, the Vedas and the caste system and went on his pursuit of finding nirvana. Islam by definition, by its own admission is categorically exclusive. Naturalism seeks ultimate explanations only natural law, nothing transcendent and the reason is this: that truth by definition is exclusive. To deny that is to affirm it at the same time. So, when you say that Christianity is exclusive, you're really not bringing any kind of pejorative charge against it. You're actually making a claim that Christianity claims to be truth. But so does every other worldview and so does the one that who wishes to challenge Judeo-Christian world-view.

Now, what I want to defend for you as best as I can, why do I believe Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life? And I will go so far as to say those of you who are born and raised in the west do not realize what a debt you owe to the Judeo-Christian worldview because of its contribution to the world of education, the world of medicine, the world of law and order, and you have attracted students from all over the globe because of the bequest of that particular worldview. Effa bruce made this comment about Jesus, the famed scholar of New Testament documents: "The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive in its practice and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists".

Bruce didn't write that. He is quoting the skeptic, Lecky, in his history of morals. Lecky, who was a skeptic, said that no one in history had done so much to influence the world of ethics and the world of thinking and practice and the strongest incentive of virtue. And bruce's comment to Lecky says this: "That is a non-Christian, or at least not distinctively Christian judgment of one sense in which Jesus is not only a historical figure, but also our eternal contemporary. His influence lives on". Let me take two answers that Jesus gave to two simple questions and then build my case for you. The first is a conversation of a man who came to Jesus and said to him, "Is it alright to pay taxes to Caesar"? I so earnestly wish Jesus had answered that differently. Jesus looked at him and said, "Do you have a coin"? The man said, "Yes". He said, "Give me that coin". Jesus looked at the coin and said, "Whose image do you see on this"? The man said, "Caesar". Jesus says, "Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's and give to God that which is God's".

The man ought to have had a follow-up question and he ought to have said, "What belongs to God"? Jesus's answer would have been, "Whose image is on you"? I want you to understand something here. No other founder of a worldview would have been positioned you in that description. But then the second question had come and it wants to pit him, law against law, ethic against ethic because Moses had given 613 laws and so this man comes to Jesus and says, since they couldn't beat him up against political authority, they tried to pitch him against religious authority and they said to him, "Which is the greatest commandment? Out of 613, it is fascinating to me that Jesus did not select one. What he said was this. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself". He said on these two laws hang all of the laws and the prophets.

Why did he not give one? Because hinged on the one was the inextricable imperative of the second. You cannot say you love God and hate your neighbor. And the imperative to love God is because when you take all of the commandments and take the ten of them which were key, if there's one word that the Ten Commandments can be reduced to, it's the word "Sacred". Your life is sacred. Your property is sacred. Your marriage is sacred. Your time is sacred, and so is your neighbor's. You cannot violate your neighbor's sacredness of right and tell that neighbor that you still love God. Those two answers of Jesus lead me into the conclusions that I want to draw. The first is this: that he gave us the source and necessity of moral reasoning. The source and necessity of moral reasoning.

It is very fascinating to me that a man like Stephen Hawking in his book that is, you know, talking about the grand design and so on, and, by the way, on which many scientists, Roger Penrose included, who worked with Hawking, and many others from Cambridge and Oxford, have really taken him to task and one of the major philosophers of science at Cambridge university said, "And may I say this much, " he said, "Mr. Hawking — professor Hawking's assertion is that philosophy and theology hasn't kept up with science". He said, "May I be daring enough to suggest that the oracular professor Hawking may not have kept up with theology and science himself, theology and philosophy, himself. So, the accusation was that philosophy and theology hadn't kept up with science and his challenge as professor of science at the same university was, professor Hawking, have you kept up with theology and philosophy? Because the metaphysical implications of what he's saying are huge.

How do you come to moral reasoning if all that is the original source is nothing more than time plus matter plus chance and purely materialistic and chemical in its source? How does one arrive at moral reasoning? And yet we struggle with it, don't we? Professor Kyle Nielsen from Calgary, we have not been able to show that reason requires a moral point of view at all. Or that really rational persons on hoodwinked by myth or radiology, need not be individual egos so classically moralist. Reason doesn't decide here. The picture I painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on this depresses me. Pure, practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts will not take you to morality. Richard Rorty, who had no ultimate criticism to offer even about the holocaust says this, "If moral imperatives are not commanded by God's will and if they are not in some sense absolute, then what ought to be is a matter simply of what men and women decide should be". There is no other source of judgment. But when Russell found that, Jale Mackey found that, contrary to Sam Harris's latest book on ethics, which is really re-hashing nothing else but a kind of materialistic fury of the human well-being. There is no ontic referent for an absolute moral law.

I see in the teaching of Christ an incredible leveler of that which you and I assume. And so I see that in his teaching and his two answers, I deduced three things. Number one, intrinsic value to every human life: number two, a political distance so that he never ever sought the power to impose his view against the will of a person... I hope you heard that. He did not seek to impose his message against the will of a person. Isn't it interesting that in a country like this, you and I can come and discuss things so openly with fear of impunity or the fear and the threat of my life being threatened or your life being threatened? I have been to places in the world where they have wanted to position me behind bullet proof glass to defend my Christian faith. Some places of the world, well, I'll get a telephone call - somebody wanting to finish me off because of my belief in the Christian faith.

Why is it in the West we have this freedom? Because I have no right to politically impose my belief on you. I should have the right to present it to you and to bring it into the Marketplace of ideas and trust you with your judgment to receive it, but the enforcement of it, in many other world views, is the distinction that is there from the Christian faith. Better value. Better value it. I find it fascinating that when seminaries were evangelical, the liberal counter perspectives were given free course to teach. When they went to an extreme form of a kind of liberal and critical methodology, evangelical was sort of marginalized in the process and not given a fair representation of his or her view. Not everywhere, but it happened. So the first thing I say to you is intrinsic worth, secondly the political distance, and thirdly that emerges from that is something very fascinating. It is this.

Jesus always reached out to the marginalized over the soulless society rather than the sophisticated ones be they religious or powerful. When he stopped to talk to the woman at the well, who had five, broken marriages in her life, the disciples questioned why he would even want to be seen by a woman like that... When the woman with the alabaster ointment came and poured it over him, she was a woman who'd made her money through means that would never have been affirmed or supported by the mainstream of society there. And the pharisee looked at her and he said, thought to himself, "If he only knew who she was, he would never have allowed her to even come near him". Children came to talk to him. The poor and the lepers came for his touch. The imperative of love and compassion from Christ to the marginalized in society came as a natural outworking of these two precepts, that every human being is made in the image of God and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This leads me to the next major thought. First, he gave me a framework for moral reasoning. The second thing he gave me is not only the perspective to look outwards, but to look inwards. This is the most discomforting thing in western thinking today. What is that discomforting thing? Nobody ever likes to use the word sin, and as soon as some radio broadcaster or some interviewer on television has got you to use that word, he triumphantly thinks he's now got you in a corner. Malcolm Muggeridge said this, "The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable fact even at the same time as it is the most intellectually resisted". The depRavity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable fact at the same time that it is the most intellectually resisted. Take a look at the 20th century, when we were touting all these communications skills and everything: when we killed more people in the 20th century, more than the previous 19 put together. What is it about the human heart? Here is where I want to anchor it for you. Jesus never said your problem and mine is a moral problem. He gave us the parameters for moral reasoning, but he said at the root of it is a spiritual problem, not merely the rejection of the laws of God, but the inability to even rise up that which had been the standard of communion with God.

I think when you come to terms with the reality of the nature of, the condition of the human heart, you will understand exactly what is being said here by Hobart Mauer, who was no friend of Christianity. This man, with is PhD from Johns Hopkins, four years instructing here, and eight years professor at Harvard, 1954 president of American Psychological Association. As many of you know his story - committed suicide at the age of 75. Hobart Mauer, who taught here, said this in an article. "For several decades we psychologists have looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epic making. But at length we've discovered to be free from sin is to have the excuse of being sick rather than being sinful: it is to court the danger also of becoming lost".

This danger is, I believe, betoken by the widespread interest in existentialism which we are presently witnessing. "In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity. And with neurotics themselves, asking, 'who am I? What is my deepest destiny? What does living really mean?'". And then he quotes the Anna Russell "Psychiatric folk song". "At three I had a feeling of ambivalence towards my brothers and so it follows naturally I poisoned all my lovers. But now I'm happy I have learned the lesson this has taught that everything I do that's wrong, is someone else's fault"! It was in the 80s, before the cold war had completely thawed, when I was invited to speak in Poland, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I had two or three of them in a row.

I was only in my 20s when I was invited to speak in Vietnam. I was an undergraduate student and some chaplains invited me to come speak to the American troops and the prisoners of war and the military and the hospitals and so on. But in the 1980s, I was, I happened to be in Poland, and one of my hosts drove me all the way to visit the concentration camp at Auschwitz. I'd seen concentration camps before, but they'd not been death camps. I didn't realize what I was in for. And as I walked from room to room, you noticed something very quickly, nobody said anything. Nobody said anything. You just stood in front of various pictures or various findings out there and you saw a room full of 14.000 pounds of women's hair. After they sent 'em to the gas ovens, they were scalped and their hair was woven into gunny sacks and sold in the marketplace.

You saw briefcases and suitcases belonging to little children with little shoes and little toothbrushes and all of that. And you'd see teenagers there with tears running down their face, wiping off the tears, going and sitting outside, just putting their head in their hands and asking themselves a question obviously - did this really happen. I realized as I looked at that what struck me. I wasn't looking so much at somebody else. I was looking at my own heart. When the crunch comes and the pressure comes, all of us are capable of the most heinous things. I never celebrate with some kind of... I'm not one of those when a minister stumbles and falls because I know how easy it is living with a heart like this. I've spent more than half my life on the road. I know the temptations out there. I know the seductions out there. But I also know I have a commitment to my family to be honorable in all that I say. Why then the temptation? Because the heart is desperately wicked and will rationalize itself into justifying anything.

Tell me, how do two men break into a home and rape a woman and two young girls, and walk away, setting the house ablaze? Too close to home. How does that happen? The human heart is capable of the most extreme things when it is untamed and ungoverned. And the problem is not merely moral. The problem is spiritual. This is the unique distinctive teaching of Christ, that your heart and mine is actually capable of limitless thoughts and acts. And the Bible calls is sin, meaning very simply, very simply it's the violation of purpose, the violation of God's purpose for your life and mine: in simplest form. And I say to you, he describes, for me, my moral framework, but beyond that, he also talks about my spiritual condition.

Many of you may not know this, but I became a Christian at the age of 17 when I'd attempted to take my own life. I'd seen so much in my young life that I could not explain, and the only escape for me was to snuff it out. But when I got a look at my own heart and looked at what it was that was the remedy, which is my third major point here - Christ doesn't only give you a moral framework, he doesn't only anchor it in something that's spiritually deviant within you and me, he provides for you the malady, the cure for your malady and the answer to it. And the answer is not in education or not merely an upbringing. The answer is in a radically new way of thinking and a changed heart, a heart that only God is big enough to alter and bring the change within you and me. That's the Christian message, that no amount of moral reasoning is going to change this world.

I remember in the 1970s, Ted Turner talking about the fact that with the presence of media and television and all of this, we were going to have a brand new world out there, brand new world with communication. I have been crisscrossing this globe now for over 30 years. I have never seen more obvious hate and intolerance and impatience and uncertainty. I'll be in audiences where anger erupts from somebody who's determined to wreak havoc globally. And I stand back and I say, "Can we really change this"? Jesus' answer may sound very simple, but it's the most profound thing that I want to share with you. After that, I'll tell you a dialogue that I had with a leading Sheikh from Ramalan in Israel, Sheikh Talal, who is one of the four, who is one of the leading voices in the Islamic Worldview out there.

I'd gone there with the archbishop of Canterbury. We were meeting with religious leaders from both sides. We'd spent several days together. But as I brought to him the conversation on this matter, I want to first frame it for you. It is this. In the Gospel, the centerpiece is the cross of Christ. And the reason the centerpiece of the Gospel is the cross is because of two things that you and I need. Number one is forgiveness and number two in learning to be forgiven, also learning to forgive. The cross shows you four confluent ideas. Let me give this to you. I was asked to speak at the United Nations Prayer Breakfast a few years ago. They wanted me to speak on the search for absolutes in a relativistic world. And it's a tough subject in about 20 minutes, 25... And even tougher early in the morning.

And you have to be careful because there are many different religions represented. You just can't come in and in your face talk. So you take about three quarters of it building your case, and the last three or four minutes telling them what you believe the answer is. So I said, "What absolutes are you looking for here? You're looking for justice, aren't you? You're always talking about justice globally". I said, "What else are you looking for"? To define real evil. We call each other evil empires when we stand on the podium out here. "You're evil," says one. "You're evil," says the other. We talk about evil. We talk about justice. I said, "And some of you have come as very lonely men and women here. You're missing your families because you know what is most important in your life is this thing called love".

And they all nodded, just sitting there perched, listening. I said, "And I'll tell you what. Some of you are going to blow it big time, and then you'll come to your colleagues to ask for forgiveness". Justice, evil, love, and forgiveness. I said, "You're looking for absolutes in this". They were nodding. I said, "Can I point out to you the one place in the world where these four converged"? On a hill called Calvary, on the cross of Christ. I want to tell you the truth, ladies and gentlemen, when I finished talking, they were lined up to the end of the door, one by one, wanting to come and talk. And a man from an atheistic country grabbed my hand and he said, "Dr. Zacharias, I came here as an atheist and I'm very unhappy out here. My country sent me here". He said, "I've often wondered why I came here". He said, "Today, I think I finally understood in what you explained about the cross and its offer to me". Here's the footnote to that.

Sheikh Talal - powerfully built man, quite angry with all that is going on geopolitically and especially in his part of the world - we sat down in his office there and he just railed against all the wrongs that were going on. And I said to him, "Sheikh Talal," I said, "Can I say something to you"? He was one of the four founders of Hamas: strong man, served 18 years in prison I believe, kind man, gave us a beautiful Middle Eastern meal. And we listened for all that time and then the archbishop said, "You're allowed to ask one question each". So I asked him one. I won't tell you what it was. I was not happy with the answer. I said, "Sheikh, you and I may never meet each other again," I said, "And I hope you will take this in the spirit I want to speak to you". I said, "Five thousand years ago, a man called Abraham walked up a hill not far from where you and I are sitting - Mt. Sidias". I said, "He took his son to offer him as a sacrifice to show his faith in God".

And he said, "Yes". I said, "Let's not argue about which son it was". I said, "Let's just agree it was his son. Am I right? Let's just go for that". He said, "Okay". I said, "What happened? Abraham is about to bring the ax down on him metaphorically there and God stops him". I said, "What did God say to Abraham"? And he just stared at me? I said, "God says, stop: I myself will provide". He said, "That's right". I said, "Sheikh, within a stone's throw from where you and I are sitting is a hill called Calvary". I said, "Two thousand years ago, God kept that promise and took his own Son up there". I said, "I just want to say to you this, until you and I receive the Son God provided for us, we'll be offering our own sons and daughters of the battlefields of this world for power and position and prestige and land".

Pin drop silence. I said, "Brother, I've blown it". The archbishop said, "Well, I guess we'd better be moving on". It was the end of the afternoon. And as we were walking down, he put his arm around me - a mature gentlemen. He said, "Ravi, thanks for sharing that. That was of God". I said, "Boy, I sure hope so. I don't know about this". We walked down and the archbishop being the honored guest, I walked to the other side so that the Sheikh could see him into the car. He hurriedly did that and came running around to my side and he grabbed me by my shoulders. He's a strong guy. I have metal rods in my back. I don't like big hugs. But he grabbed me towards him, patted on both sides of the face, and kissed me. He said, "Mr. Zacharias, you're a good man. I hope I see you again". And with moist eyes, he just stared at me and opened the door to let me in.

You know what's been going on globally for 5.000 years? The logic of unforgiveness. What if one were to take the logic of forgiveness and deal with it in a way that is willing to give up much else in order to love your fellow human being greater than you love just a portion of real estate? I say to you this, that in identifying the moral framework, pointing out to the cross, he turns to you and me and says, "The problem being spiritual, the solution is for you to understand that you need a change of heart, and only God is big enough to do that".

It moves me to two final thoughts that I shall keep brief. Jesus' embodiment of the ideal, the purity of Christ. He said to his tormentors, "Which of you convinces me of sin"? When you look at this, the Hebrews had the ideal in light, the Greeks had the ideal in knowledge, the Romans had the ideal in glory. All abstractions. Light, knowledge, glory. The apostle Paul was a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, studied at a Greek university, and he's speaking to this pluralistic society of his, says this, "God who caused the light to shine out of darkness has caused his light to shine in our hearts to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord". So said Paul. He took the abstractions and pointed to the embodiment, the purity of a life so beautifully lived. But I was writing my book on an imaginary conversation between Jesus and Gautama Buddha, the book called "The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha".

I remember going to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and being in a Buddhist monastery there, chatting with the monks and so on. And I remember one day closing my book ending it all and asking one of them, "Which is the quintessential life that you think has been lived out the way a life ought to have been lived"? The man looked at me and said, "I would have to point to Jesus Christ". Mahatma Gandhi carried a New Testament with him all his life. He had memorized much of the Sermon on the Mount. And Gandhi said this. "I like their Christ. I don't like their Christian". What he'd seen in Christ was such a powerful instruction to him of the way life ought to be ultimately lived. Whatever you have against the church may be very legitimate, but I ask you to think, "What is it you have against Christ? What is it you've seen in him that says to you, "That's not right"? And it moves me to my final thought - the hope he gives from beyond the grave and the resurrection.

One of the most difficult things I had to do in Vietnam was to be at funerals when somebody's friend had passed away. And I remember standing around some of them, people I didn't even know, and his fellow soldiers kneeling by the grave and so on, so tough as a young man in my mid 20s, watching that happen, where some of them didn't even know why they were there, didn't even know what they were doing, and watching their buddies killed. And one of them wrote this poem in a very dire situation.

Lord God, I have never spoken to you, but now I want to say how do you do?
You see God they told me you didn't exist, and like a fool I believed all this.
Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky, I figured right then they had told me a lie.
Had I take time to see the things you made, I would have known they weren't calling a spade a spade.

I wonder God if you'll take my hand, somehow I feel that you'll understand.
Funny how I had come to this hellish place, before I had time to see your face.
I guess there really isn't much more to say, but I'm sure glad God that I met you today.
I guess zero hour will soon be here, But I'm not afraid since I know you're near.

The signal, well God I'll have to go, I like you lots, I want you to know.
Look now this will be a horrible fight, who knows I may come to your house tonight.
Though I wasn't friendly to you before, I wonder God if you'd wait at your door.
Look I'm crying, I'm shedding tears, I'll have to go now, God, goodbye.
Strange now since I met you, I'm not afraid to die.

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