Just a Sabbath Day’s Journey

by Abdu Murray

In Acts 1:12 the disciples leave the Mount of Olives after Jesus’ ascension and go to Jerusalem, where the promise of the Holy Spirit is waiting. That distance—from where they stood gazing to the heavens to the place of the promise’s fulfillment—was only three-quarters of a mile. The Bible calls it a “Sabbath day’s journey.”

That’s a profound little phrase. Today, we’re looking far and wide for fulfillment—answers to our quest for purpose and meaning—because we’re under the impression that deep answers are found in mountain-ensconced ashrams or along European backpacking trails or in college where we “find ourselves.” As an itinerant evangelist and apologist who speaks in diverse settings, I’ve talked with skeptics and doubters who aren’t just visiting churches but are actively involved in and perhaps lead church programs. They come to church to fulfill a desire for community and belonging. Yet, for whatever reason, they feel that their deepest questions are not answered where they go every Sunday.

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But the answers are there if we can artfully (and prayerfully) offer them. In his Pensées Blaise Pascal wrote that the way to address deep doubt is “first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.” Vibrant churches strive to make the gospel attractive so that the doubters who come will wish it were true. But to captivate hearts and minds for Christ, we need to show them how the gospel comports with reason. We need to show them that it is true and that it answers their toughest questions.

I was a proud Muslim before committing my life to Christ at twenty-seven. As a Muslim I clung to Islam’s fundamental doctrine, expressed in the familiar phrase Allahu Akbar, literally “God is greater.” I wanted a faith that would exalt God as the Greatest Possible Being. And as I began to see that the gospel might actually be that faith, I embarked on a nine-year journey of spiritual and intellectual discovery…

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