Many people are not interested in Christianity because they don’t find it compelling.
From what they’ve heard, Jesus was a teacher and maybe a healer who said some things about being nice and loving other people. He may or may not have risen from the dead, and his followers can’t seem to agree on a lot of details about their religion.
If that’s really all there was to Christianity, I would have to agree. Not very interesting. But what if I told you that Jesus is a warrior on a covert operation to rescue someone who has been captured and held hostage and in slavery? What if I told you that the person he came to liberate is … you?
This may seem far-fetched, but it’s not my own idea. Father John Riccardo develops this way of looking at Christianity in his book “Rescued,” and summarizes the Christian story in four words: created, captured, rescued, restored.
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In the beginning, when God created the universe out of nothing, everything was good (see Genesis 1). When he created humanity, God considered us very good (see Genesis 1 again). Adam and Eve were God’s special creation, and they knew that they were lovable and deeply loved by their creator.
When Satan lured our first parents into mistrusting and disobeying God for the first time, all of humanity was affected. Satan had us where he wanted us, and convinced us that we are too messed up for God to love us or want us anymore. All the sin, dysfunction and death we all deal with every day came bursting into the world, and now we’re stuck, captured, held hostage, and we can’t escape or rescue ourselves.
When Adam and Eve fell into Satan’s trap, God promised that one day he would do something about it (see Genesis 3:15), and when Jesus was born to a young woman in a dusty outpost of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, God was beginning his rescue mission. He became a man so that he could go undetected behind enemy lines to fight for us and set us free.
God’s plan in sending Jesus into the world was comparable to a rescue mission that took place in Colombia in 2008. The Colombian government trained some soldiers to pose as guerilla fighters and infiltrate the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, a guerilla resistance group holding hostages in the Colombian rainforest.
The undercover soldiers were so convincing that the FARC allowed them to transport the prisoners to a different location by helicopter. Once the helicopter was in the air with all 15 hostages onboard, they were untied and told, “We are the national army. You are free.”
When Jesus was dying on the cross, letting lies, betrayal, shame and death wash over him, he was not a failed revolutionary or powerless victim. He was a warrior going undercover and infiltrating the enemy’s territory all the way into death itself, so that he could rescue you and me from our enemies: Satan and death.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he defeated death and restored our relationship with God. Jesus showed us that to God, each one of us is lovable enough to die for, and we have been died for.
The true story of Christianity is a great adventure that reads like a thriller, less like a fairy tale and more like a cross between “The Lord of the Rings” and “Saving Private Ryan.”
If this way of looking at Christianity sounds more interesting than what you’ve heard before, check out the Alpha Course on the St. Mary's website. There is still time to sign up!
Jessica Barton is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, former middle school math and science teacher, lactation consultant and married mother of three. She and her family have called Corvallis home for seven years. She is a parishioner at St. Mary Catholic Church in Corvallis and teaches a class called Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults for people interested in becoming Catholic.