I am reading a book about embarrassed believers (Christians) – its premise is that Christians have let themselves be marginalized by a intellectual elite that dismisses Christianity, without ever butting up against it head on. Thus the Christian culture (in western societies at least), keeps quiet, and tries to keep the Christian part of life limited to Sundays and retreats, but never let out in the open in society at large.
In one of the chapters, the author deals with some of the common questions that are thrown at Christians as to why our religion does not make sense. (I will not comment on how this does not quite fit in with the theme above ). One of the questions is, “Why is there suffering?”, sometimes asked as “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The pat answer is that there is suffering because there is free will, and with free will comes the ability to choose wrongly, i.e. sin, and thus cause suffering, not only in ones own life, but the lives of other around you as well. The question posed in the book is that, well, God made the rules, couldn’t he have changed the equation so that we could choose between good, better, or best, but not bad, badder, or worst?
I think that God could have made the rules of our existence this way, but it would have been a cheap version of free will – while we could choose between good and best, we would not be able to choose to reject God altogether, and this would not have accomplished the end goal. Much as it hurts to say, and hurts to hear, it really is not about us, it is about God, I mean it really is his world after all.
So moving along to continuum, we give a little more real free will, maybe we change the equation so that we can reject God and sin, but it is easier for us not to sin than to sin, rather than what we do have, which is that our sin nature makes it easier to sin than not to. This would certainly give free will, and it would give humanity to follow or reject God at an individual level. However, even though it might have made the world a nicer, i.e. less sin, less evil, less poverty, less violence and crime, it would not have eliminated suffering altogether, thus does not fit the bill. And to be honest, with nothing to compare this world to it is hard to say, but it sure seems like we certainly could be much worse off – even with a sin nature, many non Christians do lead lives that leave the world a better place than if they were not in it – not good enough, not perfect, but not visiting pain and suffering on those around them at every turn.
At the core of it, when I look at it from a purely selfish perspective, I think I am glad that God made me so that I CANNOT be perfect. If God had made the equation such that one COULD be perfect, while still having the option of rejecting God and sinning, then we would all have no excuses, and there would be very few, I mean very few people going to heaven, and I know that I probably would not be one of them. You could live your whole life absolutely perfect, and then on your death bed, with some horrible painful disease, you curse at some poor nurse because she missed your medication and you are in pain, and bam, you are on your way to hell.
If we could be perfect, why would God have sent Jesus to die for our sins? I mean buck up, you could have done it on your own, why would God take that on to give you an out, an excuse, a convenient backdoor, when if you just had really wanted to, you could have done it on your own. Again going back to the fact that this is really God’s show, and good and bad are defined by God himself, and by his nature and who/what/how he is, for Jesus to die and take on all the sins of everyone in the whole world, and to be heard accountable for them – that is powerful, that is God becoming all that he is not, becoming the very opposite of who he is, in order to make the payment for us, so that we could live.
So having a sin nature, we cannot be good enough, we just cannot. There is no way. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But, and I don’t know if I am standing on shaky theological ground here, since we cannot do it on our own, that makes it worth it, in God’s eyes, for which we must be everlastingly grateful, for Him to die for us so that we can be saved. So that we can live eternally in His presence, worshiping him, having had our sins washed away by Jesus’ death and suffering. It lets God give us an out, a salvation for those that aren’t perfect. If we could be perfect, and God still provided us with the free gift of salvation, wouldn’t it seem just a wee bit unfair to those that worked at it really hard and gutted it out and made it without sinning, not even once? They have to share heaven with those that did give it their all, that slipped up here and there, and then got into heaven because they took the easy way out by letting Jesus’ pay for their indiscretions? But no, as it is now, we are all on the same level, everyone of us has sinned, we all deserve hell, not one person who has lived on this earth, with the exception of course of Jesus, can say that they deserve to go to heaven. Not one – we all get in on equal terms.
So again, I have to say, not that my weak little opinion really matters in the long run, but I really am glad that God set up the rules the way that he did.
Thats my story and I am sticking to it 😉