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Is Jesus the only way to heaven? | POD 025

Is Jesus the only way to heaven? | POD 025

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RESOURCES

HOSTS & GUESTS

Dr. Harold Netland – Guest

Bill Gorman – Host

 

Show Notes

Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
The exclusivity of Jesus

If Jesus is unequivocally the sole means to salvation and communion with God, how do we grapple with the predicament of individuals who have never encountered the message of Jesus, or those who consciously reject him despite being presented with his teachings? Is Jesus the only way to heaven? In this episode host Bill Gorman and our guest, Dr. Harold Netland, explore the complexities of the mission of the church, the exclusivity of Jesus, and concerns surrounding the fate of those who have not heard the gospel. The conversation covers key New Testament passages, personal experiences, and foundational principles in scripture, diving into the heart of theological and practical challenges faced by believers today. Tune in as they discuss the transformative power of the gospel, the nature of personal salvation, and the profound mission of making disciples.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The Exclusive Nature of Jesus: Dr. Netland and the host discuss the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to salvation and the challenges this presents in different cultural contexts. The conversation highlights biblical passages and principles that support this belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
  • Mission and Discipleship: The importance of making disciples and participating in the work of the Spirit, regardless of cultural or geographical barriers, is emphasized. The episode calls attention to the diverse paths individuals may take in encountering faith and stresses the significance of disciple-making mission.
  • Scriptural Principles and Foundational Truths: The discussion navigates complex questions about heaven, salvation, justice, and fairness through the lens of scriptural principles. Dr. Netland emphasizes the need to focus on what is clearly and consistently taught through scripture, grounding the conversation in foundational biblical truths.

#ExclusiveJesus #DiscipleMakingMission #SalvationDebate #GlobalGospel #GodsLoveAndJudgment #EvangelicalTheology #TheologicalClarity #NewBirthTransformation #PersonalFaithJourneys #ClarityInScripture #theonlyway #Jesus #heavenisreal

 

RESOURCES:

Crucial Questions About Hell   |   JI Packer

Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World  |   Various

Are All Religions True?   |   Dr. Harold A Netland

Faiths in Conflict? Christian Integrity in a Multicultural World  |   Vinoth Ramachandra

 

GUEST BIOS:

Dr. Harold A. Netland completed his undergraduate studies at Biola University and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. Following nine years with the Evangelical Free Church of America in Japan, he returned to the United States in 1993 to become a Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he currently serves as the Director of the PhD/Intercultural Studies program. Netland’s expertise in religious pluralism has earned him recognition, with scholars frequently citing his views, such as his definition of propositional truth. Notably, in his 2001 book Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith & Mission, Netland offers a critical evaluation of John Hick’s pluralism hypothesis from an evangelical perspective.

 

QUOTES:

“Salvation is always based upon the person of Christ, Christ’s work on the cross from start to finish, it’s an act of God’s grace and God’s mercy. Nobody is ever saved by being good or sincere enough, and an act of faith and repentance is necessary for saving faith whenever or wherever it were to occur.”— Dr. Netland

 

 “And the parables that Jesus tells, the parable of the father, the prodigal son, the forgiving father, God eagerly welcomes a repentant sinner.”— Dr. Netland

 

“So when many people hear, Jesus is the only Lord and savior for all people in all cultures, that just sounds like 19th century colonialist ideology all over again. Yeah. Who gives you the right to say that?”— Dr. Netland

 

CHAPTERS:

00:00 Focus on exclusivity of Jesus as rescuer.
05:07 Concerns about cultural harm in religious evangelism.
08:56 New Testament emphasizes Jesus’s unique identity.
11:25 Questioning the relevance of the New Testament.
14:47 God is morally pure, beyond human understanding.
18:42 Salvation through God’s grace and faith.
20:53 Jesus says we need a new life.
23:25 Two views on salvation through hearing the gospel.
29:01 The church’s work is making disciples worldwide.
30:01 Questioning the exclusivity of Jesus and love.
34:43 Trust in God’s character to do good.
37:12 Becoming the right kind of person for Jesus.
41:41 Grateful for wisdom and service in ministry.

But What About The Christian Sexual Ethic? | POD 024

But What About The Christian Sexual Ethic? | POD 024

Show Notes

But What About Christian Sexual Ethics?

Have you ever felt that the Christian sexual standard is overwhelmingly narrow? In this episode, we delve into the topic of Christian sexual ethics with our host, Bill Gorman, and guests Ben Beasley and Nikki Dieker. Together, they navigate the complex landscape of human sexuality, revising Christ Community’s paper to make it more relevant to today’s cultural moment. Throughout the conversation, they discuss the theological and practical implications of the Christian sexual ethic, addressing questions about church life, gender dysphoria, and more. They also highlight the importance of community, spiritual discipline, and the pursuit of Jesus in navigating these challenging conversations. Get ready for a thought-provoking and insightful discussion that offers guidance and resources for those seeking to follow Jesus in today’s world.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Identity and Vulnerability: They discuss the importance of questioning one’s identity in relation to core beliefs of the Christian faith, and the need for a supportive and safe community within the church, especially in dealing with the vulnerability and brokenness associated with discussing Christian sexual ethics.
  • Community and Accountability: The significance of being involved in a faith community surrendered to scripture, rich spiritual friendships, and the importance of accountability in living out a Christian life and sexual ethic. The emphasis on the communal nature of faith and the need for support from others in following Jesus.
  • Spiritual Discipline and Faith: The impact of rigorous spiritual discipline, self-mastery, and faith, including spiritual disciplines like prayer, study, and fasting, in guiding one’s life and recognizing and redirecting bodily desires.

#ChristianSexualEthics #FormedLifePodcast #BiblicalSexuality #TheologyOfSexuality #SpiritualCommunity #FaithfulLiving #ScriptureAndSexuality #CulturalContex #JesusAndSexuality #ChristianEthicalLiving

 

RESOURCES:

CCKC Position Paper | Exploring God’s Design for Human Sexuality

POD 003 | Gender Dysphoria Issues | Dr. Julia Sadusky

POD 007 | Addressing Sexual Brokenness: Clues to Healing Through Story and Curiosity

POD 016 | Exploring Same-Sex Sexual Expression in Romans 1 with Greg Coles

Gentle and Lowly | Dane Ortland

Does The Bible Support Same-Sex Marriage? | Preston Sprinkle

Embodied | Preston Sprinkle

Finding Your Best Identity | Andrew Bunt

 

GUEST BIOS:

Ben Beasley enjoys communicating God’s Word in speech and writing, and he is interested in the church as a place of transformation for people individually and collectively. He is fond of exploring the many questions of faith and spiritual formation by engaging with the works of authors, poets, and artists. Ben received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Nikki Dieker has been on staff at Christ Community since 2017, but has attended the Olathe Campus with her family since 2007. She is married to her best friend Ryan, and has three incredible children, Noah, Calvin, and Hadley. She loves hiking, getting lost in books, coffee, and spending time with friends. Nikki is passionate about connecting people to one another and the church.

 

QUOTES:

“We need each other. And so I think, yeah, we need those mothers and fathers who’ve gone before us. We need those brothers and sisters who are running beside us. And we need those kids that we’re encouraging that are coming behind us.” — Nikki Dieker

 

“We are all sexually broken. So yeah, it highlights that this is something that rubs up against each one of us in deeply personal places, because we’re all broken.” — Nikki Dieker

 

“The traditional Christian sexual ethic just feels like, to our moral taste buds, it almost feels, like, absurd. It doesn’t, you know, like, it doesn’t taste well.” — Ben Beasley

 

“Being involved in a faith community, is key. A community that is surrendered to scripture. That’s where life is. And when we follow Jesus, we follow him through his word.” — Ben Beasley

 

CHAPTERS:

00:00 Church revises paper on Christian sexual ethics.

06:24 Positive feedback on updated Christian sexuality content.

07:06 Paper revisions respond to evolving cultural context.

12:55 CS Lewis’ challenge on following Jesus honestly.

15:14 Modern age of identity questioning and harm.

18:40 Embracing vulnerability, shame, and mental health.

22:58 Growing in faith, friendship, and intimacy experiences.

My Workplace Visit to Garmin

My Workplace Visit to Garmin

Ever wish you had an easy button? You know, a button to hit when life is difficult so everything just works out. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Garmin headquarters located in Olathe, Kansas and guess what I found out! They invented the easy button for landing an airplane! So if you ever find yourself suddenly in charge of flying an airplane (let’s sure hope not, right?) just hit the easy button (the technical name for that is autoland) and it will contact air traffic control, communicate with them, take control of your plane, and land it for you. All you have to do is put your seat in a forward and upright position! 

 

Why Visit Garmin

To be fair, this is not the reason I visited Garmin, but it’s still really cool to talk about. But why visit Garmin? Over 25 people who work for Garmin attend the Olathe Campus of Christ Community, and I wanted to see their workplace and ask how they see God in their work. Our work is one of the most important ways we worship God. Good work, done well, matters. This could be developing technology that saves lives, sweeping floors, or changing diapers. We often forget this beautiful reality and I visited Garmin to remind them that their work is valuable and to expand my own understanding of what God is doing through them. 

 

Brokenness and Redemption

I was able to have lunch with a few of our congregants and I asked them two questions: “Where do you see the brokenness of the world?” andHow does your work seek to bring redemption to that brokenness?”  

 

Where Do You See the Brokenness of This World?

Randine Ailshie works in the Global Supply Chain department and sees the brokenness very clearly. She receives about 20 to 30 emails a day detailing all types of issues: natural disaster, political, war, cyber-terrorism, etc. It’s her job to make sure that regardless of what happened, those suppliers still have the ability to ship out parts so Garmin products can be made. In Randine’s words, “To tie it to the brokenness a little, admittedly it took me a while to learn to separate my personal feelings about people from the ability to get my job done. For instance, I could read an email that states that an earthquake struck Japan and left 500 people dead and 1,000 missing. I have to look past the fact that families are in distress and only focus on if Garmin is affected. That is kind of a hard pill to swallow. How can you ignore that?  People are out there searching for their families and I have the nerve to send an email to make sure that my needs are met? It’s crazy sometimes. The redemption that I find in my job is when I hear that the person I work with in Japan was not close to any damage and his family is all safe.” Randine goes on to say that she has made friendships around the world simply by asking the person she is corresponding with if they are okay. That simple question and act of kindness has gone a long way to bring light into a dark place. 

 

How Do You Seek to Participate in Redemption?

Dan Irish works in the Compliance Engineering department and works to arrange the testing and certification of Garmin products. One of the places he sees the brokenness of this world is that God’s creation is being destroyed, specifically, in the poaching of animals on the endangered species list in South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya. In order to combat this brokenness and seek to bring redemption, Dan and his team use Garmin technology to train tracking dogs used to combat poaching. Because of this technology, there has been a 95% reduction in the amount of poaching! Dan marvels that the work he does in Olathe can have such a significant impact on the stewardship of God’s creation around the world. 

 

That the Lost May Be Found

I started this with an easy button, so let me end with an easy button. Did you know Garmin sells devices with an SOS button? They saw the brokenness of the world in the number of people getting lost and not found, and sought to bring redemption by adding an SOS button. Whether you are on a rural country road or on Mount Everest, if you have an inReach device from Garmin, you can push that button and a Garmin team monitoring everything 24/7/365 from Houston will get a text.They will dispatch local search and rescue to save your life. How cool is that? They literally get an internal email list every week sharing how many lives were saved that week.

 

God is at Work

I went to Garmin that day hoping to encourage people and remind them that their work plays a role in bringing redemption to the world, that God cares about the good work they do, and that God uses their work to form and shape them. I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but I do know that I left in awe of how God uses people with so many different talents and skill sets to be his hands and feet in the world. God is at work using the ordinary work of men and women to combat the brokenness of this world and usher in redemption. 

Navigating Uncertainty: Exploring Tough Questions on Faith and Christianity  |  POD 023

Navigating Uncertainty: Exploring Tough Questions on Faith and Christianity | POD 023

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Show Notes

Navigating Uncertainty: Exploring Tough Questions on Faith and Christianity

Have you ever looked at the Christian faith and wondered, “But what about”? In this episode, Bill Gorman is joined by special guest Ben Beasley, interim campus pastor at our Leawood Campus, while they explore the “But What About…?” series, which addresses tough questions head-on. Whether you are a firm believer or wrestling with uncertainties, we will all have moments of doubt and wrestling. Bill and Ben discuss their own “but what about…” questions, emphasizing the importance of patience, charity, and epistemological humility in working through doubts and questions. They also share their hopes for the series, which includes modeling a healthy approach to addressing tensions and guiding listeners towards humble confidence in their faith. Join us as we dive into this thought-provoking sermon series with an aim to know Jesus more and be his hands and feet in our community and world.

 

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Patience and charity are essential when grappling with tough questions or doubts in our faith journey. Be patient with ourselves and others, recognizing that these questions are not only intellectual but also have emotional and personal aspects. It’s important to extend grace and charity to those who are wrestling with difficult questions.
  • Wrestling with doubts and questions is an important part of Christian formation. There is a deep significance in engaging with doubts, questions, and tensions as part of the journey of faith. This engagement, done in a healthy way, can lead individuals towards Jesus instead of away from Him.
  • Addressing tough questions head-on, including topics such as the church, the Bible, the treatment of women, Christian sexual ethics, politics, suffering, and hell. The goal is not only to provide the truth, but also to present a vision of human flourishing and beauty, fostering a sense of humble confidence and trust in the Christian faith. The series also encourages the community to engage with the Bible as a means of resolving tensions and providing insights into these challenging topics.

#theFormedlife #ButWhatAbout #ToughQuestions #ChristianFaith #SpiritualJourney #DoubtsAndQuestions #BiblicalTruth #ChurchCommunity #HealthyDoubt #HumanFlourishing

 

RESOURCES:

Spirituality of the Psalms – Walter Brueggemann
After Doubt: How to Question Faith Without Losing It – AJ Swoboda
The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – Timothy Keller
Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion – Rebecca McLaughlin
theFormed.life – Sermon Series Resources

 

GUEST BIO:

Ben Beasley enjoys communicating God’s Word in speech and writing, and he is interested in the church as a place of transformation for people individually and collectively. He is fond of exploring the many questions of faith and spiritual formation by engaging with the works of authors, poets, and artists. Ben received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

 

QUOTES:

“I think just about doubt being an important part of our Christian formation, even or wrestling with these questions being an important part of our Christian formation. Even the word Israel in Hebrew is ‘to wrestle with God’.” — Ben Beasley

 

“We can trust that there have been Christians going before who have really wrestled thoughtfully with a lot of these questions. Seek out those thoughtful Christians who have done that work, and look for those resources.” — Ben Beasley

 

“We want to be patient with ourselves because there’s a lot of reasons we can be asking these questions at different points in our lives. These questions will bubble up, and Some of those reasons aren’t only intellectual reasons, and we just have to be patient with ourselves and grace filled with our own selves as we seek to find responses, thoughtful responses, and answers to these questions.” — Ben Beasley

 

CHAPTERS:

00:00 Introducing a new sermon series, exploring “what about” questions.

03:47 Wrestling with the concept of hell and suffering.

07:57 Questions about Bible trust and suffering.

11:24 Patience and charity in seeking answers.

14:17 Community support is essential for our faith journey.

20:06 Upcoming topics in the sermon series.

24:33 Recommend reading.

Living Generously: Our Open-Handedness and God’s Faithfulness  |  POD 022

Living Generously: Our Open-Handedness and God’s Faithfulness | POD 022

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HOSTS & GUESTS

Kevin Harlan – Guest

Tom Nelson – Guest

Paul Brandes – Host

 

RESOURCES

Show Notes

Living Generously: Our Open-Handedness and God’s Faithfulness

Join us as we delve into stories of divine provision and the transformative power of generosity within the church community. Get ready to be inspired by the impact of open-handedness and stewardship as we journey through the remarkable experiences of Christ Community Church. In this episode of theFormed.life podcast we explore the “Financial Generosity” theme with special guests Kevin Harlan and Tom Nelson.

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • The impact of financial generosity and open-handedness within Christ Community has been instrumental in shaping the church’s growth, sustainability, and impact, demonstrating the power of generosity in the local church.
  • The importance of faith, trust in God’s provision, and acknowledging divine providence in overcoming financial challenges and achieving a flourishing life with others through generosity.
  • Encouragement for listeners to embrace a generous posture, commitment to the mission, and stewardship for God’s glory and kingdom, highlighting the transformative power of collective engagement and generosity within the congregation.

#FinancialGenerosity #ChurchImpact #DivineProvidence #GenerousGiving #StewardshipJourney #GodsProvision #CultivatingGenerosity #GenerosityStories #TrustInGod #ImpactOfGenerosity

 

GUEST BIOs:

Kevin Harlan serves as the vice president of philanthropy at Made to Flourish. He works to build a broad base of philanthropic support and guide philanthropic endeavors to invest financially in pastors and churches.Kevin played a role in the formation of Made to Flourish and served on the senior pastoral team at Christ Community Church in Kansas City for 15 years. He and his wife, Sharon, have been involved at Christ Community in many leadership capacities since 1994. Prior to his work with Christ Community, Kevin served with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) for 19 years.

Tom Nelson is the founder and Lead Senior Pastor of Christ Community Church. Tom also serves as president of Made to Flourish, a network that seeks to empower pastors to lead churches that produce human flourishing for the common good. Tom is the author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community’s Compassion and Capacity, and The Flourishing Pastor: Recovering the Lost Art of Shepherd Leadership. Tom speaks regularly on faith, work, and economics around the country. Tom has served on the board of regents of Trinity International University and is also a council member of The Gospel Coalition. Tom graduated with a master’s of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and received his doctorate of ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

 

QUOTES:

“Our loaves and fishes in our life may not be that cool or exciting or the best, but God can take Even little crusty loaves and fishes and multiply to multitude, and we’re seeing that.” — Tom Nelson

 

“It’s the generosity of our congregation, everyone. They are deeply committed to forming the new pastors in generation.” — Tom Nelson

 

“It’s the generosity of our congregation, everyone. They are deeply committed to forming the new pastors in generation.” — Kevin Harlan

 

RESOURCES:

madetoflourish.com

cckc.church

The Economics Of Neighborly Love – Tom Nelson

The Flourishing Pastor: Recovering the Lost Art of Shepherd Leadership – Tom Nelson

 

CHAPTERS:

05:57 Discussion on human experience, generosity and acknowledgment.
08:33 Sensitivity to institutional practices, emphasizing generosity, gratitude.
10:20 Elder team considering loan, then church in Romania.
14:46 Left Dallas in 24 foot truck.
16:59 God spurs generosity, stories inspire others.
20:21 Teamwork, stewardship, financial difficulty
26:02 Church building refurbished.
29:35 Importance of funded residency program.
32:10 Excited about church leaders forming work programs.
36:03 Generosity and church planting.
39:09 Encouraging generosity and investments for shaping the future church.
42:59 Organizing life, trusting God for provision, memories.
46:05 Memories from pastor, staff, congregants.
46:51 Kevin’s other dream job.

What Stephen King Has Taught Me About the Real World

What Stephen King Has Taught Me About the Real World

It was 2015. I was on a camping trip with my family, lying in a tent in the mountains of Colorado. It was dark, everyone else was fast asleep, and if you’ve ever slept in a tent in the woods, you know how loud the nature noises can be. It was already the kind of night ghost stories are made of. It also happened to be the night I was reading my very first Stephen King book. I started with a doozy, The Shining, which takes place in a haunted, isolated place in the mountains of Colorado. Yikes.

I’d always avoided Stephen King, mostly because I don’t much enjoy being afraid. Now here I was, shivering in a dark tent, wind rattling the sides, feeling very much exposed. I’m sure it was just the cool mountain air that caused my goosebumps. Nope. I was scared. And I have been on a quest to read everything by him ever since. 

Now here is the disclaimer. Stephen King is NOT for everyone. I’ve convinced my wife, at least one campus pastor, and a few select friends to read some of his books, but this is not an apologetic to start reading him. Some of his books are truly terrifying, and the content isn’t always PG. Or even PG-13. A few of them are downright rough.

Even so, I have become a fan, and not just for the entertainment. Stephen King has expanded my imagination and taught me several important lessons about the real world. I might even go so far as to say that his writing has increased my capacity for faith, but if I did, you might accuse me of pushing it (although I really think it has).

As of now, I’ve read thirty-three of his books, and if that sounds like a lot, he’s written more than eighty since his debut with Carrie, in 1974. While some of them are absolutely terrifying, I’ve been surprised by the diversity within his writing style. People often assume it’s all horror but in my experience, most of them are just suspenseful mysteries. He’s also written some good dramas (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), a little fantasy (The Eyes of the Dragon), and at least one that reads like historical science fiction, if that’s even a real category (11/22/63).

He’s super funny, unbelievably creative, and has a surprisingly good window into the human experience. I’d be hard pressed to tell you my favorite, but my top five so far are: The Shining, Misery, It, The Green Mile, and 11/22/63. Oh, and definitely Shawshank. And maybe Dolores Claiborne. Did I forget The Stand? I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.

If there is any living celebrity I could have over for dinner, Stephen King would be very high on the list (his memoir, On Writing, makes him seem surprisingly normal). I’d love to talk with him about what he actually believes about the universe. He clearly has a decent grasp of the Bible and the Christian faith, and it sure seems like he has a profound belief in the supernatural. But what does he actually believe?

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that Stephen King has taught me more about the real world than I ever expected, and it is these things that keep me coming back.

 

There is more to life than what I can see

First, his writing has reinforced my belief that there is more to life than what I can see. To me, this has been one of his greatest gifts. Now, I’m a Christian, so of course I believe in the supernatural. But I’m also a 21st century Westerner, and according to philosopher Charles Taylor, I live with what he refers to as the “immanent frame.” Like most of us, Christian or not, I live much of my life believing only in what I can see.

Sure, I believe in God. I pray and I expect him to respond. I also believe in supernatural evil actively seeking to destroy everything good. This is what Christians are supposed to believe, right? But it is so hard to maintain that faith when we humans arrogantly and regularly assume that we can find a rational explanation for everything.

Not when I read Stephen King. His writing makes the supernatural plausible. He allows for mystery and tension that defies explanation; that there are things in this world that can’t be explained, that maybe shouldn’t be explained. That there isn’t a formula or lab or a logical argument to answer every question. And that we humans don’t actually know everything.

The Bible also doesn’t answer my every question. The gospel of Jesus contains tension and mystery and things I cannot explain. I don’t have to see in order to believe. I don’t have to fully understand in order to trust. Stephen King expands my capacity to be ok with that.

After all, it says in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV) I know his books are fiction (Right?). They’re even outlandish sometimes. Yet they make faith somehow just a tiny bit more plausible. He’s helped me see that maybe, just maybe, there is more to the universe than the things I can see. 

 

There is real evil in our world

Second, he’s made it easier to believe in serious, objective, evil. There is real evil in our world. I think we know that simply by turning on the news, and our Christian faith confirms it, and even offers some explanation for it. But Stephen King helps me feel it, helps me hate it, and even shows me my own propensity for it. 

Nobody can create a villain quite like he can, and as Christians, we believe there is true supernatural evil seeking to destroy us. Peter reminds us: Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is real. Demons, darkness, and hell are as real as the chair I’m sitting in, but so hard for most of us to believe in. 

Yet ever since reading It, I can’t even look at a sewer grate the same way, and while I don’t believe in Pennywise, I do believe in a cosmic enemy who is even more evil. Seriously. Even more evil than Pennywise! There are few villains I’ve ever hated more (or feared more) than the ones Stephen King has created, and it has reminded me to have an appropriate fear and hatred of the real supernatural evil in our world. The devil is non-fiction.

But it’s not just supernatural evil. There is real evil alive within each of us. It’s not just Pennywise I’m afraid of, it’s also Nurse Annie in Misery. It’s the evil that lives within the human heart (including mine) that’s also scary. Stephen King understands this, having battled his own demons of drug and alcohol addiction. He understands physical pain, after having been hit (and almost killed) by a fast moving van. Evil isn’t fiction, you shouldn’t trifle with it, and Stephen King has expanded my imagination for our need for rescue. We all long for a hero.

 

Good will ultimately triumph

Which leads to the last thing I’ve learned about the real world from Stephen King. Good will ultimately triumph. No matter how bad the story, no matter how harsh the evil, there is goodness in our world that seeks to overcome it. There is good that resists the evil, and sometimes even a hero who will help overcome it. 

Ultimately, I believe that hero is Jesus. He is the Promised One of Genesis 3 who will crush the head of the serpent under his feet. He is the Victor of 1 Corinthians 15 who had defeated the ultimate enemies of sin and death. He is the One we long for, and he is coming back to make this world right (just read Revelation 19:11-16!).

I don’t know what Stephen King believes. I don’t know what he thinks about Jesus. But I’m grateful for the unexpected ways he has strengthened my belief and my hope and my longing for Jesus.

Yes, there is more to this world than we can see, and some of that is remarkably scary, but the end of our story is good. Evil around us and within us will one day be defeated and even be eradicated, through the work that Jesus has done for us. While it might sound silly, I praise God that at least for me, Stephen King has made all of that just a tiny bit more believable.