John 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Women’s gymnastics is a sport dominated by young girls. In fact, it is not uncommon for female gymnasts to retire while still in their teens, such as Olympic champions Mary Lou Retton (18yrs old) and Jordyn Wieber (19yrs old). John Geddert, head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic team, said: “Without sounding condescending to young women, this is a little girl’s sport. With their body changes and the wear-and-tear everybody goes through, once they become women, it just becomes very, very difficult.” However, one Olympic Champion clearly missed the memo on retiring – multiple times! Forty-one-year-old Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina made history in 2016 by qualifying for her seventh Olympic Games, and then still competed in the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games in July of 2021 at the age of Forty-six! In fact, she was a gold medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Games, long before U.S. stars Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas were even born. When asked why she continues, long after most gymnasts have retired, Chusovitina’s response is quite simple: “I love the sport. I love to give pleasure to the public. I love to come out and perform for the public and fans.”
I was intrigued by the title of the sermon from a guest preacher to our church, Dr. Alastair Noble: “Why I’m Still a Christian.” Dr. Noble, the Director of The Centre for Intelligent Design in Glasgow Scotland, was an extremely well-spoken elderly gentleman who shared why he was still a Christian, now many decades after first accepting Christ as a child. He shared that the Gospel he had first heard just made sense then and it still does today. Noble shared that he never found an alternative (certainly not today’s secularism) that makes more sense, and finally more personally, that Christ fills a desire that has always been there. Dr. Noble’s sermon made me look introspectively and ask that same question: “Why Roland, are you still a Christian?”
Today’s scripture from John 6 is a difficult one. Jesus seems to be saying some pretty controversial things. For instance, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (vs 53b). As a result of this statement and many others, we read in verse 66 that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him”. Jesus then turns to the twelve disciples and asks them: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (vs 67a).
When I consider the question of why I am still a Christian, I can’t help but think of Peter’s answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (vs 68b). What am I going to replace Jesus with? Am I going to replace him with another religion? In any of my studies I have not found another religion that makes more academic sense (especially when you look at the historical veracity of the Bible as compared to other “sacred books”). When I look at today’s secularism I see no solutions to the origins of life, nor to the issues of the world. Most importantly, what I have with Jesus is real. Much, in over four decades of walking with Christ, has been very difficult, but I cannot imagine having to traverse life without Christ’s unconditional love, without his guidance or without his promise to me, of an eternal home with Him. That is why I am still a Christian and will be until he takes me home to be with him forever. How about you?