God doesn’t ask for much
He really doesn’t. Atheists and skeptics sometimes portray God, if he exists, as overly demanding and petty, poised like a lion ready to pounce on any poor soul who, through no fault of his own, happens to commit an infraction. Or as a legalistic tyrant requiring blood for every innocent, little misstep. But he’s not like that, and I strongly suspect that most folks who settle on this caricature of God instead of investigating further to see if it’s accurate, don’t really want to know him.
I recently stumbled upon this blog Weighing the Evidence, like mine a defense of the Christian faith, and eavesdropped on an exchange the blogger Seth had with a skeptical reader. First of all, I was very impressed with Seth’s congenial, deferential tone as he carefully avoided volleying back the same arrogance and scorn he was being lobbed. But also, I discerned that perhaps this commenter really did want to know why we need to be saved, despite his slightly condescending attitude. And it got me thinking about how best to boil down the salvation apologetic into its most basic, bite-size bits.
So let me see…
- God created us to be in a love relationship with himself…to love and be loved by.
- Because he is our maker, and so incredibly greater than us, he calls the shots. It can’t conceivably be otherwise.
- True love cannot be coerced, so God gave us the freedom to choose or reject him and his ways. Rejecting him is sin.
- God would be a complete wussy if he failed to exact consequences for sin.
- But because he is merciful, loving, and compassionate, he paid the consequences himself.
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ~ Romans 3:26
That’s it. That’s all he asks of us to be restored to a proper relationship with himself and be with him forever when this earthly life is over…believe that he exists and submit to his authority.
Objections regarding certain Christian doctrines, which are often misunderstood, can be addressed and overcome. But what can’t be overcome or denied is the fact that each of us fails to perfectly and consistently live up to the standard we intuitively apprehend. We sin. And God says,
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. ~ Isaiah 45:22
It seems to me we can divide up “all the ends of the earth” into four categories. Those who:
- are unable to believe in God, i.e. babies and the mentally deficient
- are unwilling to believe – those who dismiss the evidence because of an a priori commitment to naturalism or resistance to an ultimate authority
- believe but are unwilling to submit – either they fool themselves into thinking if they simply acknowledge him they’re in, or they just don’t care and insist on doing things their own way
- believe and submit – those who humbly acknowledge and revere God, however he has revealed himself to them, who “turn to him” and recognize and embrace their position as his servants
The first and the fourth receive the salvation God desires for all. The others forego it of their own choosing.
God, in his love, has gone beyond what we deserve to make a way for us to enjoy him forever, even though we have, and continue to sin. Please…don’t be among those who miss out on eternal joy for the sake of temporal independence and self-satisfaction.