What unbelievable thing has happened to you?
My best answer, still 5 years later, is that my kids and I saw a whale swim past us going upstream on the American River on a Sunday afternoon in downtown Sacramento. I don’t tell very many people this because whales don’t end up there. I really don’t expect (or need) anyone to believe me. It leads to awkward conversations as people suggest what I might have actually seen. The experience thrilled but instantaneously agitated me. I initially emailed marine biologists in the region. Then I spent 6 months obsessed with learning about whales (and the other two types of cetaceans: dolphins and porpoises).
Christianity sprung to life from the fertile soil of the unbelievable. Thrilling, yet agitating. A response is required.
The factual historical experience included hundreds of people seeing someone alive after being confirmed dead and in a tomb. Hundreds also had seen Jesus do things like — to name only a few — heal blindness, leprosy, paralysis, and bring dead people back to life.
As people responded, they found that Jesus (now ascended to heaven) had intended to birth a community movement of love and renewal. That his instructions included baptism. That transformation and renewal would come through selflessness rather than control, sacrifice rather than dominance. And that this impossible shift in lives would be enabled by the “Holy Spirit” that would work within this multi-ethnic, global movement.
These baptized people would learn to say: “He is risen,” and reply, “He is risen indeed.” Because that summed up the thrilling-yet-agitating reality that still transforms lives today.
Maybe this is why Rosaria Champagne Butterfield put it this way:
“How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck? Truth be told, it felt like a little of both.” -The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert