The Gospel of Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Good News, and correctly so. But, unfortunately, the good news that ‘You can be saved’ sort of comes out of left field for most non-Christians, unless it’s preceded by the bad news that ‘You need saving.’
Until I started attending church, I was aware of the concept of needing salvation, but I didn’t buy it.
‘I’m a pretty decent guy who does more good than harm in the world, and my life is more or less enjoyable, so what could I possibly need saving from? If I’m going to Hell, so are most of the people on the planet – including a good many Christians!’
Then, once I started to come to terms with the Truth of the Gospel, the whole thing sounded like ‘good news’ in the same way we use the word ‘special’ to describe the handicapped.
‘Let me get this straight. Even though I didn’t ask to be created, the God who made me this way, “warts and all,” will sentence me to eternal, unfathomably horrible torture, unless I rise above my “warts,” toe His line and devote my life to Him and His plan for me? Woo-hoo. Lucky me! What kinda “good news” is that?’
That’s definitely a glass-half-empty perspective, but it’s not an entirely un-credible view of the way of things as we Christians see them. (Sure, you can argue that the ‘warts’ aren’t God’s fault, they’re ours. But since He has the power to prevent them and doesn’t, he’s arguably not the author – but the editor – of a lot of nasty stuff in the world.)
I’ve come a long way since that perspective dominated my view of Christ and Christianity, but even today, that ‘Choose Me or you’ll burn’ ultimatum still feels rather heavy-handed for a deity often associated with the phrase ‘God is Love.’
But when I put aside the ‘or you’ll burn’ part of that command for a moment, and focus on the ‘Choose Me’ part, I feel better. After all, since God made me and everything else in the temporal universe, His plan for me just might be better than anything I could come up with on my own.
If I want to reach my full potential as a man, a husband, a father and/or a writer (and I do), whose plan will help me get there faster than that of the one who created everything – including me and my potential?
The downside of saying No is undeniably pretty ugly, but really, what’s the upside of saying No? And more to the point, what’s the down side of saying Yes?
OK, you won’t get to choose your own path anymore, but someone infinitely smarter and wiser than you – who loves you completely (warts and all) wants to give you exactly what’s best for you, all the time – will choose it for you.
Why would we say No to that? Because we love our freedom, I guess. Freedom to continue wallowing in mediocrity, to keep on trying to find fulfillment in material things and mundane activities and earthly relationships – all of which are constantly subject to change. To strive for something, but we don’t know what and we don’t know why. To play the role of the proverbial squirrel – gathering nuts and acorns, nuts and acorns, so we can live, so we can die.
Does Jesus say ‘Choose Me or you’ll burn,’ or does He say ‘Choose Me or you’ll continue to burn?’
Maybe we’re burning already, and Jesus is the only fire extinguisher strong enough to put us out.
Peace be with you.