“Would you mind if we had a little fun at your expense?” Paul, a Christian, teased his atheist brother Ron.

“As long as you know I’ll get you back,” Ron replied, relishing one of their frequent friendly arguments. “What is it this time?”

“Okay, you asked for it. Would you believe I can show that your origin as a human being is rooted in the life of Jesus Christ? And I’ll use your own words to prove it—your answer to one simple question.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Ron scoffed.

“We’ll see,” Paul smiled. “Now, if I do use your own testimony to establish your origins and identity in Jesus, would you promise to read through the New Testament?”

“You’ll never prove anything like that, so sure, you have a deal. Now, what’s your stupid question?”

“All right: What year were you born?”

“Nineteen hundred and seventy. Of course. So what?

“Here’s what: You say you were born in 1970 . . . That would be AD 1970. And AD is the Latin abbreviation for ‘year of our Lord,’ as you know. So there we have it! You just defined your own origins in relation to the year of our Lord—Jesus Christ!”

“That’s cute—and clever too, I’ll admit,” Ron said. “But it means nothing because enlightened scholars don’t go by AD or BC anymore. That’s just medieval religious chronology. I was born in 1970 CE, which means ‘common era.’”

Paul grinned, undeterred. “Fair enough, but tell me how your so-called ‘common era’ got started. Something pretty important must have happened to divide the history of the world into two parts, before and after. So what in the world was that time-splitting event?”

Ron hesitated, looking pained as Paul gleefully pressed his advantage. “Tell me! This time-defining event in which you derive your own existence—was it 1,970 years since the birth of Charles Darwin? Sigmund Freud? Dow Jones? How about Mozart or Buddha or Plato?”

Ron winced awhile before finally speaking. “I know you’re trying to get me to say ‘Jesus Christ.’ But historians say he was actually born somewhere around 4 BCE.”

Paul said: “Well thank you for acknowledging that Jesus actually existed, as attested by serious historical sources. And whatever exact year he was born makes no difference. The fact is, you and your atheist buddies anchor your own stories in the context of his story. Even the United Nations chronicles world affairs in relation to the birth of Jesus. And since his birth has such universal significance, we can assume that his death is important as well. So when Jesus died on the cross, he must have been more than a very good man having a very bad day.”

“Well, that remains to be seen,” Ron shot back.

“And I hope you do see Jesus in a new way as you read this New Testament.” Paul pulled the small paperback out of his pocket and earnestly offered it to his brother.

Paul prays that reading the Bible will do more for his brother than his own inconsistent example has accomplished and will also make up for the dysfunctions and hypocrisies of the church he wishes his brother would attend.