I have a desk in my home that my Grandfather built when he was a young man. He passed it on to my Dad who has since passed it on to me. Since I have been married, my wife and I have looked for and acquired new pieces of furniture which have given us opportunities to replace this desk and set it up in storage but we have chosen to keep it and utilize it. We have found a lot of value in this desk because of its age and because of the way it connects me with my Grandfather. That experience reveals that regardless of what comes with it, modernity cannot replace that which has survived time and that which connects us with history. In 1 John 1:1, John begins describing Jesus as “That which was from the beginning”. He continues explaining that the one that they have seen with their own eyes and touched with their own hands was the same one who spoke the world into being; He is the Word of life. When John is telling his readers that, he is not just explaining the timelessness of Christ – he is also revealing the ancient faith of Christianity. It may have taken some time but the disciples eventually realized that Christianity was not a spin-off religion nor was it a utilitarian faith that worked and replaced something that didn’t work. Christianity is the ancient faith. It is the oldest thing that there is and it has completely survived time. When you and I become united to Christ by faith, we enter into the story and connect to the ancient faith of people like Abel, Noah, and Abraham. This is the story of the unrighteous being made righteous by faith in Christ and this is the story of the One who was there in the beginning and the One who has been the hope of the world from the beginning. Abel looked to Him and worshipped Him. The Christ was the God of Jacob and David and Elijah. They may not have known His name the way that we do today, but their faith was in the God that would take away their sins. Their faith was in the God that would become their righteousness.
In Acts 28, Paul gathered the Jews of Rome hoping to reveal to them that Jesus was the hope of Israel. Acts 28:23 tells us that all day long Paul “testified to the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.” In other words, Paul is pleading with the Jews to see that Christianity is not something that came about in Paul’s lifetime and in fact, Moses and Elijah were followers of this Jesus. Today, we should not just look back 2000 years to see the beginning of our faith nor should we only look to our first experience with Christianity. We should go back to the beginning and when we do our faith is strengthened and the name of Christ is magnified. Long before there was a universe, Christ was there. Our God that died on the cross is the God that formed the waters and the stars. He created the very human that He would one day become. And because the eternal God was made manifest and entered into time and space to become man, we can say with John: “indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3). There is nothing older than Christianity. There is nothing more sure.
– Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Clanton, AL. His column appears each Thursday.