Tuesday, July 17, 2007

He's a nut job... or is he... ?

This morning I reflected on a verse from Mark, about the initial reaction Jesus’ family had to his ministry: “He is out of his mind.”

When told his family was waiting for Him outside, Jesus replied “Who are my mother and brothers?” Then looking at the apostles seated around him, He said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!”

I thought first of my family. What would I do if my children encountered a living Jesus here on earth? “Dad, Jesus came back to earth… and I am leaving home to move in with him and his followers?” Would I lock them in their rooms and forbid them to go? Would I have them sent to a shrink for counseling? Would I call the cops? After all, I still remember the fire and deaths in Waco, just 14 years ago. My first instinct would be to protect my children.

Jesus, too, tells us to be on alert, warning us in the Gospel of Matthew that “false Christ's and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

But part of me knows that encountering a living Jesus here on earth is possible… and that left me wondering: is my faith strong enough that I could tell the difference between a false prophet and the one true Lord? How did the early apostles do it? Especially as their loved ones chided them, “what are you doing… this guy is nuts!”

Interesting, then, that as I left for work this morning, the first news story on the radio was about Sergei Torop, a Russian traffic cop who came to “realize” that in his last life, he walked the earth as Jesus Christ. He now understands that God sent him back to Earth because hatred and war and environmental degradation had become rampant.

Given my morning reflection, I wanted to look into this story a bit more and found an article in today’s Washington Post. "This is the first time I have been needed in 2,000 years,” Torop tells is followers. “This is a critical point. Only when mankind becomes one family on Earth will the doors to the universe become open to them."

Today, Torop has over 5,000 followers – who have left their old houses and jobs to form a new way of life in Siberia – and their numbers continue to grow. "That was the end of my search," one of his followers testifies. "I felt my heart beating really fast, and I knew, 'This is the truth. This is Him.' He is the second incarnation of Jesus Christ."

“'This is him,” another exclaims. “This is the one, the teacher I have been waiting for all my life. Yes, I believe he is Jesus Christ. I know it, like I know I'm breathing, and that's it."

Reading this last line startled me. Because it describes how I know that Christ is Lord. I just know it… like I’m breathing… and that’s it. So I will ponder this question some more… is my faith strong enough that I could tell the difference between a false prophet and the one true Lord? Could I recognize Christ if I saw Him?

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