The fad of the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets has receded a lot, but the real question is often What Would YOU Do?
The linked is an excellent devotion based on a possibly apocryphal, but never the less very gripping story of a concentration camp Jewish Survivor hearing the confession of a German Soldier, and being asked to forgive him. The story and the devotion are both very worthy of being added to your life memory.
A number of things hit me hard (again) relative to the tale:
- When Christ forgives those that crucified him, he forgives ME. Humans see sin as having a "scope". Burning down a house full of Jews is much greater in our minds than lusting after a woman in the mall, having too much to drink, or enjoying the misfortune of someone we consider an "enemy", or just "too big for their britches". It isn't -- sin is sin.
- This column soft-pedals what I find to be one of the most chilling parts of the Bible: 14"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15"But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
I don't find those verses comforting at all. In fact, in those fortunately rare late night times when thoughts of the personal final exit intrude unpleasantly, this is way up there are on my "are you ready?" list. I have no doubts I deserve Hell, I have very little doubt in Christ's ability to save me, I still retain significant doubt in the adequacy of my ability to forgive!
- The "device" I use to calm and drift back off to slumber, besides a prayer to grant me the ability to forgive as I have been told to do, is to "let God judge". I don't have any theological background for this to really be acceptable, so take it with a grain of salt.
The idea is that God is sovereign, and do **I** really want "person x" to burn in hell for eternity? No, that seems excessive to me, so, I pray to leave judgement up to God, and to trust in him to do what is right, up to and including eternal punishment. I find it also cures my "how COULD God send someone to eternal punishment"? It lets me reflect on my weak human willingness to somehow even conceive that **I** could somehow "judge" the action of an infinite and sovereign God! He can judge and punish absolutely any way he wants, and my opinion as to such is beyond irrelevancy!
My role is to have faith in his goodness and grace, which OUGHT to be supremely easy given that God was willing to take human form and humble himself to ultimate suffering on the Cross for the chief of sinners, ME -- but in my most human condition of frailty and hubris combined, what ought, sometimes is not!
A somewhat short end of the year sermon. All of us die, and none of us KNOW what lies beyond, it is ALWAYS a "leap of faith". For the largely Godless West, it is primarily a faith of one of the following:
- There is no God, so there is NOTHING beyond
- There is some power, but it is benevolent, so I'm OK
- There is a God, but since there are so many religions, as long as I believe what I believe "sincerely", I'm OK
- I don't think about it much, but I'm definitely better than most people, so either I'll have a lot of company in Hell, or I'm going to do pretty well
I spent a lot of time and study in consideration. Raised a Baptist, a stint as an agnostic by education, Lutheran by compromise (would probably be a Catholic if it was only me choosing).
- The easiest and the hardest choice is the God or no God.
I gave the no God a good try ... for me the problems came down to the Goldilocks Universe and the absolute unprovability of our origin / existence. We have no idea what the base of "matter" is ... once we got to quantum, we started LITERALLY "grasping at strings", as in "String Theory". Right now we are chasing our tail, and our current science is based on what we see in what we believe to be the "current SpaceTime", but to be a true scientist / atheist means accepting that there are something akin to 10 to the 500th UNIVERSES, ALL that has happened, is happening, or could be happening has ALWAYS been happening, is currently happening and ALWAYS WILL be happening.
Next to that, I find the idea that either everything we think we see **IS** the infinite and all powerful God, or was created by him for some purpose, to be infinitely easier to have faith in. The Jewish and Christian teachings that we walk by FAITH are most certainly true. We have no choice whatsoever in the faith part, the only question is "IN WHAT"? Do you want to have a positive belief or a negative (NOT GOD!) belief?
You DO have faith, the question is just "In what?".
- Once #1 is out of the way, you are either "done" relative to God, or you need to decide HOW?
To me, that is a much easier path given the history of mankind. I look at existing cultures, and up to the 20th Century, Western Judeo Christianity was such a big winner that there isn't even any real competition.
Muslim? Not hard to decide if I want to follow a branch off the Bible tree whose favorite wife was a 9 year old girl and believes that people that refuse to join their religion on earth ought to be killed.
Buddhist, Hindu, etc? They don't look very successful in THIS WORLD, I'm having a hard time thinking that they will do well in the next. Worshiping cows, figuring that there really is no need to help anyone unless you want to work on your "karma", etc.
Don't be confused here ... that is COMPLETELY different from current Muslims flying planes into buildings with "Allah" on their lips. They believe in Allah by FAITH ... which we ALL live by, and which we are ALL going to die by a very short period and accept the eternal results.
However the terrorists didn't found a new religion on what we would have known to be a lie as the Disciples did, accept horrible deaths, usually on crosses, because they would not admit to what they knew to be a lie, and had complete confidence that none of the other Disciples that would have had to be involved in the hoax would either!
The deaths of the disciples are profound evidence for the resurrection of Christ!
Next to the Resurrection of Christ being a hoax, 9-11 being an "Inside Job" is very very easy to believe. I find the "Truther" perspective to be almost as much a sign of cluelessness as the multi symbolic "Coexist" bumper stickers! (if they JUST had a crescent with a star, they would make a LITTLE sense)!
I have rambled beyond my usual blogging limits. Perhaps it is the fact of my Mom's first Christmas in Heaven just past. Perhaps it is the recent Duck Dynasty flap and Phil Robertson sharing his faith (much more concisely). Most likely it is just wanting to avoid moving around this AM!
In any case, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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