Lord > The Reality
Okay, I'm not one of those holy-roller "bang you over the head with the Bible" kinds of people. Your life is your life, and you can make your own choices about it. But, please, if you haven't already, do just a couple minutes of thinking about it.
Here's some of the thinking I went through as I became a Christian. (Whoops! I guess I just gave away the ending. Surprise!) Of course, there are interesting philosophical arguments against all of these points... but there are also interesting philosophical arguments against the fact that you exist right now. So let's just blow through these with an open mind and see what we come up with:
Is there a God? A God of any kind will do for now. Are we here by random chance? Is the universe just a "thing" that happens to be here? Are our lives and consciousnesses just random arrangements of atoms that, fundamentally, are no different than rocks or dust? Or is there some sort of intelligence - some sort of power - some sort of "God" - that created us?
Does God have standards? It would seem that the creator of a universe as vast and amazing as ours (and of all the creatures in it, as well) has some sort of rules by which the universe operates.
Is God good? Some people say no, or say that we couldn't ever know... but where does our standard of "good" come from? If the universe were created by some sort of evil god, for his amusement... how can we call that god evil if there isn't something good to compare it to? It would seem that this "creator of the universe" we're talking about would be a good creator.
Does God care? If some power actually did put the universe together, and decided to make us come about in some way, do you think that such a God just dropped out of the picture entirely? Or does God have some sort of ongoing involvement in our existence?
Would God communicate? If God actually cares, would he figure out some way to "stay in touch"? If God is at least as caring as a mediocre pet owner, would he at least reach down and bring his standards to us? Pet us on the head, guide us, scold us with, "Bad, creation! Bad!"?
How do we measure up? Are we humans good? On average, yes - most of us are pretty nice. But how good are we compared to the definition of "good"? Are we perfectly good? Do we ever do "not good things"? Sure. Compared to God, we're pretty bad.
Can we fix ourselves? Are we getting better? Are children born today "more inherently good" than children born a thousand years ago? Or has human history shown that people have innate selfish tendencies - that they can be good people, but that our "default position" is to look out for ourselves?
So... If you're with me so far, we think there's a God who has standards and cares about the fact we can't measure up to those standards.
If you disagree with that, then look back over the past few paragraphs and see where our opinions diverged. Figure out where you disagree, and why. Give it some thought, and send me some e-mail if you want to discuss it.
At this point, I have to start making some leaps; entire books have been written about this stuff. But, in a nutshell:
- We don't measure up to God
- But God cares about us and wants us to be "His"
- But God has standards of right and wrong
- So something has to be done to make us "right" to God
- Some sacrifice has to be paid to make up for our wrongs
- But nothing we humans do can make us as good as God
- So we need to rely on an effort that's "on God's level"
- One thing that's certainly "on God's level" is God himself.
And now we're to Jesus. In Christianity, he's called "God's Son", but he's also called "God". That sounds goofy - it deals with the odd concept of "The Trinity" - but it just reflects the fact that you can't hack God into parts. A portion of everything isn't everything - it's just a portion, and all of a sudden "everything" is missing a little something. That doesn't make any sense when you apply it to God, whether he's a "power" or running around on earth. So "Son of God" and "God" end up meaning the same thing.
So the way God gets in touch with His people is by sending his "Son", who's just the same as He is, because God is just one whole big God.
If your head is spinning... Remember that our definition of God really is of "the Big Power"; if you're thinking that Jesus and the God we're talking about might just be little godlettes, then try to figure out who those godlettes are reporting to in the chain of command, and that's the God we're talking about.
So, it looks like Jesus fits what we're looking for. Someone to come and make us right with God so we can be in touch with Him.
What effort would put us right with God? We've already figured out that we can't do it - it's got to come from God Himself. And, to be blunt, a penalty has to be paid. We've "done God wrong", and something has to make up for that. (Remember, we decided God has standards; why should we expect Him to just up and forget about those?)
- A sacrifice must be made
- That sacrifice has to be on God's level
- The only thing truly at God's level is God
- God's Son.
We can't do anything to "earn God's favor". We have to accept the sacrifice that's already been made. And if you know anything at all about history, Jesus made that sacrifice. Not to spoil the story, but... our hero winds up dead in the end.
And, suddenly, all the Christianeese about "Christ's sacrifice on the cross" and "Christ paying the penalty for our sin" makes sense.
You might not believe it. But at least it makes sense. The concept hangs together.
If you want some reasons why it might make even more sense to believe that this whole thing is true... keep reading.
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