This episode is part of my podcast series DEAR ATHEIST… If you prefer, LISTEN NOW.
Many of us take for granted the simple message of the gospel that we have received and accepted as the TRUTH. We’ve heard it so many times in Church, read it in so many pamphlets, and maybe even written about it as Facebook messages to our family and friends and on blogposts that we don’t really think about how it sounds to the untrained ear. However, if we are to win over the hardest of our opponents to our side…we have to recognise that to them it really sounds like utter foolishness!
Think about it, even as Christians we are weary of shady people who offer great deals or freebies! We think they must be up to something. There has to be a catch. Or the very popular expression: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
Evangelists often like to use the example of a friend stepping in place of us to take our punishment for a crime, so that we can go scot-free. But really, when has that EVER happened??? And who will be satisfied with killing the murderer’s friend, while the murderer walks away free feeling quite chuffed with himself? And really, in which world is it justice to kill an innocent person FOR ANY REASON? It just doesn’t make sense.
It sounds like a desperate salesman tactic to get you to sign something, without looking at the fine print. I remember when I and my husband were in Dubai for our honeymoon. When we arrived at the Airport, a couple of salesmen approached us and complimented us. They were hungry sharks! They knew we were from Nigeria, and they were used to rich Nigerians coming to Dubai, without a clue how to spend their money. They wrongly thought we were one of them. They told us about these wonderful free excursions they would give us, if we would just visit their office for a short presentation. It turned out they were trying to sell us timeshares at the Palms Atlantis. At the end of a long day, we only got one of the things they promised to give us, as we refused to drop any money for an apartment they refused to show us without a deposit!
The point is, we are trained as children to be weary of such people. To work hard for everything we get. To not depend on hand-outs. We are also taught that actions have consequences, and if we do wrong, we will be punished. Mommy and Daddy never for once whispered in our ear: “Don’t worry dear, if you ever have to go to jail, I’ll take your place”. I’m sure some parents would readily do that for their children, but they know they cannot! That it would not be right – nor lawful.
Yet, that is the message of the gospel. It is what sets it apart from every other faith that people feel they have to do good to get good in the next life. It is so illogical that many who receive the good news of the gospel, still feel the need to earn their way with good works and religious rituals – you know, just in case!
But you know what, there are just some things that are crazy but true!!! Like love for instance! Nobody buys love. You don’t even earn love in most situations! And people will do just about anything for the object of their love. When a mother has a child, the child doesn’t have to do a single thing for the mother to want to lay down her life for him. In a climate where the sensible, lawful thing to do to an adulterous husband or wife is to the divorce them, it is remarkable and sometimes unbelievable, when people choose forgiveness because of love!
The way I see it, God just wanted to reconcile us to Himself! He had already forgiven us, He just wanted us back. We have done every possible evil we can think of to do, and without His influence, we would all surely have perished ages ago. God, knowing the power of love, decided to show us just how great a love He has for us. What we deserved, what we were destined for without His intervention, was first separation (as He cannot abide with evil), then corruption (as we escalate in depravity), then inevitably suffering and ultimately death – forever. You may think the world is bad now, but without God’s influence, no one need die to experience hell!
God intervened in this process, by bringing us hope – through Jesus Christ. By showing us the greatest love possible (that one should lay down his life for his friend (John 15:13)), and teaching us by His example, a better justice. An eye for an eye may be logical, but like Gandhi said, it only makes the whole world blind – because we are all guilty! However, forgiveness not only restores a relationship and delivers the sinner from guilt, it also liberates the one who is offended, as offense is quite a burden to carry.
So, God made a way to reconcile us to Himself and turn the tide from death to life, undoing the work of corruption in us by giving us His indwelling Spirit of Love. However, a love that is not given by choice is not love. Hence, the part we play in the equation is to believe in Jesus and choose to receive this generous gift that He has given us, through the shedding of His blood. If we deny His precious gift, we deny God’s power to turn the tide that is leading to our eternal separation, corruption, suffering and death. We will get hell as our destiny, rather than heaven, not because God sent us there, but because we rejected His help and decided to see where our own works would take us!
It is the craziest thing you will ever hear on Earth. The greatest love story ever told! The amazing tale of how “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that any whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To those who are perishing, it is absolute foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18)!
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Categories: Critical Thinking, Dear Atheist, Issues of Life, The Latest, True Religion