Perhaps you have seen the following “LETTER TO NYU” circulating on the internet.
The essay assignment from NYU was as follows: "In order for the admissions staff of our college to get to know you better, we ask that you answer the following question are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?" Here is Hugh Gallagher's clever response:
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the areas of heat retention. I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my god like trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am as expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis. But I have not yet gone to college.
That's fantastic, but... the guy in this essay is not real. He sounds good, but neither I nor anyone else I know of will be restructuring our way of life to follow him, or introducing others to him, or starting a Church of The NYU Student, or wearing a bracelet (WWNYUSD). It doesn’t matter how great he sounds; he is not real.
There are some foundational topics that come up over and over in the Bible:
- The only way to make our sins right and find true peace with God is by accepting Christ’s generous offer of grace and forgiveness. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Christ can heal our wounds, wounds from our own sin or through the sins of others against us.
- Christ’s love flowing into and then out of people can change the dynamics even the most hopeless of relationships.
- God has created you for His glory, and that as the Holy Spirit works inside of us we are increasingly molded into the image of Christ. Our lives take on a meaning and purpose as we realize all the ways in which we can live for the glory of God and the good of others.
- God shows us that we can be fully known and fully loved even if those around us do neither – and that if we see truth in His Word and see His presence genuinely represented in His people, we will be able to let down our guard, and allow others to see the dirt and grime, and begin to experience what it means to be increasingly known and increasingly loved by others.
But this only happens if Jesus is who He claimed to be. If Jesus was not real, or if he lied or was confused about who he was, then Christianity has nothing to offer that you can’t find in another worldview, a self-help shelf or a bottle. But if Jesus was who he claimed to be, then He matters in ways that nothing else does.[i] This is what I want to address today – the reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation on which everything else is built. The APOSTLES CREED (which probably dates from the second century) begins like this:
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son, our Lord, Conceived of the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, [he descended to the dead] on the third day he rose again, he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead...”