Archive for July, 2011

What if it Isn’t True?

July 20, 2011 1 comment

by Karen Gross

So what if I die and there is nothing? What if I spend my whole life in obedience to God and His word, and then it turns out that it was all a fairy tale made up by men? Will it have been worth it?

Absolutely! Let’s say that none of the things I believe about God are true. (This is not what I am saying, I do believe that everything I read in the Bible is true.) But just for the sake of argument, I will explore this notion. Let’s say that when my time comes to take the big dirt nap, that’s all it will be. No soul to pass on. No new body in heaven. No consciousness whatsoever. Then what?

Then nothing. I won’t know anything. I will just be out of my misery. But I will have no regrets. Living my earthly life as a Christian will have been worth it. I will not have given up anything that would have enriched my life. The list of things that Christians are not “allowed” to do – smoking, drinking, promiscuity, drugs, etc.  – those things would not have made me happy. The “play now, pay later” attitude would be catching up to me by now.

I need to make this clear – living a life of denying oneself the “pleasures of the world” is not a ticket to heaven. The Bible clearly teaches as in Romans 3:20, “no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” We are saved by God’s grace (see my article Faith Without Works is Dead for a more complete answer on this topic).

If there is no Holy Spirit indwelling Christians, and the “fruit of the Spirit” (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are just character traits that Christians are trying to develop by normal human effort as opposed to being the result of the influence of the Holy Spirit – I don’t see how this could be a bad thing.

And if the peace and comfort that come from prayer are really just the result of brain chemicals, well – it still brought me peace and comfort. And as for the supposed answers to prayer, these can usually be explained away. The power of positive thinking, group hypnosis, scams, and outright lies could account for most of the allegedly miraculous answers to prayer. But if anyone was fooled by a false miracle and joined the Christians, and then it turns out that we were wrong, they will just end up pushing up daisies with the rest of us for eternity.

The other big deal for Christians, the fellowship of the church, has been a bad experience for some. Humans can be quite cruel and insensitive, so any church that allows humans to join will include these human traits and more: rudeness, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and bigotry. Wars have been started for the sake of religion. Any time the church gained political power, there was corruption. Does this mean that without Christianity these things would not have happened? Nonsense. Atheistic communism, Islamic regimes, self-centered monarchs, and evil dictatorships with no religious affiliation have fared no better.

It may be a surprise to some that many Christians have very good relationships with the people in their church. My church has been like a family to me. These are the people I have called on when I needed a ride to the hospital and a babysitter in the wee hours of the morning, and the people who have provided food, rides, childcare, money and support in so many ways when we have needed it. I wrote about them in The Best Church in the World.

I know that my church isn’t the only one filled with people who genuinely love and care for one another. As a family, not every experience is positive, and I know that I have been selfish, insensitive, and rude sometimes; and there are some people that I would rather not spend too much time with, but honestly – in every town I have lived in I have found a church that feels like family.

So when I die, if it turns out that I have been wrong about God, and heaven and hell, and it turns out that there is nothing after this life, I would say that – no – I have no regrets. But what of those who believe that there is no God and no afterlife; those who have lived by the belief that they have no one to give account to for what they did with the knowledge they received about Christ – what if it turns out that they were wrong and the Christians were right?

God does not send people to hell for any specific sin that they have committed. We have all been born with a sinful nature, separated from God because Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan rather than God. Like it or not, Satan gets us by default if we reject God’s gift of reconciliation. It really is a matter of choosing sides.

What is a Christian?

The Devil Went Down, Part 1: Eden

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Love Like He Does

I’ve been reading in 1 John this month learning about God’s love and how it applies to how I live my life. I struggle with this thing called love in more ways than one. It sure is easy to love the people I get along with well but it’s tough to love others the way Christ wants me to. I feel like this topic is very much in my face right now and God is wanting to show me some things. I was on my treadmill this week listening to Chris Rice and his song, “Love Like Crazy.” He sings, “If the world’s ever gonna change, you gotta love like crazy,” and “You gotta love like He does.”

As I mulled that over, I thought, If Christ didn’t love unconditionally, there’s no way I’d be part of the family of God. I fall short in so many ways. I am thankful that He loves me just the way I am, mistakes and all.  What would I do if I had to earn His love? This makes me realize how important it is to love like He does. I changed because of His unconditional love. If I want to be an example of Christ, I need to love without condition, too. This seems really difficult at times and I admit there are times when I don’t want to but if my strength comes from Christ I have the ability to do so. It is not impossible.

In 1 John this morning I read, “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid , it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that His love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of His loving us first. If someone says, “I love God but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God , whom we have not seen?”

My first thoughts were, I tend to have difficulty loving people I fear judgment from. It’s easy to love others who love me but when it comes to those whom I think are judging me for my parenting, the way I do my job or the way I dress, I want to run the other way or judge back. The last thing I want to do is love. In 1 John it says that if we fear judgment His love hasn’t been perfected in us yet. So does that mean I am not secure in Christ’s love for me, completely, (because if I was, I wouldn’t fear man and his/her opinions of me?) Interesting and probably true. Honestly, if Christ has my back, what can man do to me?

At any rate, these are just some things I struggle with. I know I need to love like He does, but it’s hard sometimes.

–Alison Lehman

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