KARL MARX AND JESUS

One hardly expects to find Karl Marx and Jesus in the same headline. After all, what in the world would the intellectual forerunner of political atheism (still known today as communism) possibly have in common with One regarded by billions as Lord and Savior? Wasn’t it Marx who in 1843 penned that line in German, still remembered today, “Religion is the opium of the masses”? What then could he and Jesus possibly have had in common? As it turns out, much more than anyone today would think. I’m reading my way through F. F. Bruce’s stirring commentary on the Gospel of John. Just this week I came across a footnote, tucked away at the end of his comments on John 15. It turns out that seventeen year old Karl Marx wrote a graduation essay with this intriguing title, “The union of believers with Christ according to John 15:1-14, showing its basis and essence, its absolute necessity, and its effects.” His essay was later approved as “a thoughtful, copious and powerful presentation of the theme” (quoted in F. F. Bruce’s The Gospel of John, 316). What a stunning contrast between the youthful convictions of a teenager and the later avowed atheism of this man who would eventually be heralded as one of history’s most influential figures! During this week of prayer with our guest preacher Karl Haffner, we have again and again returned to the compelling theme of a personal friendship with God—what the young Karl Marx described as “the union of believers with Christ.” No matter where his intellectual journey eventually took him, the young Marx wisely and correctly described this personal union with the Savior as an “absolute necessity.” And what was his basis for such a conclusion? Jesus’ own words: “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you [“the union of believers with Christ”], you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5 NIV). That has been the second Karl’s appeal all this week, the appeal of Jesus, “Abide in Me and I in you.” It’s the heart and soul of a living friendship—it’s the gift of a daily reconnecting—it’s the promise of a daily recommitting to the “absolute necessity” of carrying your early morning Christ-consciousness with you throughout the hectic day ahead. Both Karls are right—it begins and ends with a personal union with Him. The week is now ended. But let the friendship begun this week go on. And on. Beyond the galaxy and galaxies. With Jesus. In the words of this week’s theme song: “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed to Him until that Day.”

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