But other than this one encounter, everyone else wasn't too keen on revealing what they felt about a relationship with Jesus; shying away from any religious discussion. But, as always, when your goal is to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God, Jesus will give you the opportunity to sow a seed or two. And there was a particular conversation that Mark took part in that captured the interest of several thirty-something's one night at dinner. Let me share the gist of it ...
First of all, you need to understand that my husband has a keen interest in understanding the historic religions of the world and how they relate to Christianity. It is important to have a knowledge of what came before Christ so that one can intelligently [and accurately] represent how our God is superior to the gods of other religions. In doing his research, he has become quite well-informed about these lesser gods, knowing their names and becoming aware of their existence and influence upon the people of today. Therefore, he has no hesitancy in engaging in a discussion with the Millennial generation, who proudly display these gods upon their bodies in the form of tattoos. In fact, it never surprises me when he asks these younger people about their tattoos, because he has a genuine interest in knowing if they are aware of the spiritual doors they are opening.
Ahura Mazda, whose name means "wise lord," was the most important god in ancient Persian mythology. When the religion known as Zoroastrianism became widespread in Persia around 600 B.C., Ahura Mazda became its supreme deity. This religion was founded by the religious leader, Zoroaster, who taught that Ahura Mazda was an omniscient god and creator of the universe. Zoroaster also taught the existence of angels, demons and saviors, ideas that can also be found in Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- all religions that came later.
But back to Mike, and how this ancient god came to be permanently etched on his arm. Mike admitted to doing psychedelic mushrooms in his younger days and said that he did them for about a year, without any unusual affects... until the night that an entity appeared to him, attacked him, and frightened him nearly to death! That began Mike's search into the spiritual realm, various religions and gods. Instinctively, he knew there was a supreme being, but could get no answers from Christian pastors about the entity that attacked him or what god it might be serving.
So he began an investigation into the oldest god there was, which led him to the Sumerian texts. Sumer was the southernmost region of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq and Kuwait) which is generally considered the cradle of civilization. The name comes from Akkadian, the language of the north of Mesopotamia, and means “land of the civilized kings”. The Sumerians invented one of the first writing systems, developing Sumerian cuneiform writing (impressed on clay tablets) by about the 30th century BC. The earliest literary texts appear from about the 27th century BC.
As far as their religious belief system, the Sumerians believed there were four creator deities, and under them were the seven gods who "decree the fates." These were An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna. These were followed by the 50 "great gods" or Annunaki, the children of An. Sumerians believed that their role in the universe was to serve these gods.
So, in his search for answers about a god to serve, Mike ended up tattooing Ahura Mazda and Enki on his arm, determining that if they were among the first gods to be worshipped, they had supremacy. And when my husband could intelligently discuss these gods with him, without condemning him, Mike was willing to listen to what Mark had to say about the "Most High God". Mike's question was, "Where do I go to find out about him"? And when Mark's answer was, "He's the God of the Bible", Mike shared his distrust of what Christians had presented to him in the past, because it was always dictatorial, rigid, and repressive -- and they were always unwilling to accept that there were other gods.
|The Most High God amid His Divine Counsel|
It was a small, first step in getting Mike to reconsider the Bible as a credible source of information about God. There was no need to press him for more; it was not yet the time to explore fallen angels, satan, or Jesus as his personal savior. That could come after he was able to receive and accept Jehovah, Father God. But he no longer viewed the Bible as a negative, restrictive book, nor the God of the Bible as a tyrant. And he had certainly never met a Christian like Mark.
And in this exchange, it suddenly became clearer to me why Jesus chose to teach in parables. He was trying to overcome the religious rules and legalism of the Pharisees, who were so restrictive in their interpretation, and appeal to human instincts and spirits as He introduced the Kingdom of God. Mike had made it clear that "Church people" weren't accepting of him or his questions, and Mark laughingly told him they weren't always receptive of his ideas either. But he made it clear that the god on Mike's arm was no match for the God we serve. And when Mike heard that our God helped deliver people, just like him, who were being attacked by these entities from the spiritual realm, he was even more interested. And so were the five or six other Millennials at the table, some of whom had experienced similar attacks.
You see, this generation has been raised on the internet where anything that can be imagined is possible. So, they are bombarded with fantasy worlds, demons, artificial intelligence, and all the spiritual doors those avenues have opened. When, we as Christians, try to present God as we've made Him within our Church walls, they can't identify. We must speak to them in their own terms and from their areas of interest. Just like Jesus's parables, we have to show them a God that relates to their experiences. The unbelieving world doesn't need our sermons and certainly doesn't want to hear "The Word says". They first have to know who "the Word" is before what He says can mean anything to them. We must relate to them at where they are, instead of demanding that they relate to us in all our religious ways. We must engage with them, looking for ways to introduce them to a God that is interested in them. From there, Jesus will give us the opportunities to take the next step, and the next... always bringing heavenly purpose into their earthly circumstances.
It's my prayer that Mark can keep in touch with Mike and answer the questions that will inevitably come. It's a long distance between Texas and Utah, but we serve a God that arranged that divine appointment in Montana. Let's see what what He orchestrates next.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.