We have all sinned. We all fail. We hurt others, we hurt ourselves. We hurt God.
“If we spit in a baby’s face, that’s bad. If we spit in a police officer’s face, that’s awful. You see how the principle works? The greater the authority, the worse the penalty for the offense. So how much more severe is the penalty when we offend the creator of justice itself?” — Paraphrase of my new friend Tom. (Names changed because it’s just a nice thing to do. And thanks again for dinner, Tom.)
But God has given us an unthinkably generous gift. He is the ultimate judge, and rather than enforce the appropriate penalty, he came down from his judge’s seat and stood where we stand. He paid the price for us, and all we have to do is accept this gift, and we receive pardon. Not just a little pardon, either. Ultimate, complete, and eternal pardon.
Not only that, but once we are pardoned, we will literally turn into a new person, one whose desires change and whose sense of love, duty, and respect for God will cause us to become more loving, more desirous of living a sin-free life.
I get it. Tom was surprised to know that I get it. And that was a revelation to me. Or at the very least, it was a powerful reminder. It’s been many years since I was a true believer. Somewhere around my late teens, I encountered other religions and non-religion for the first time, and I began to doubt. Within a few years, it was impossible for me to believe anymore. These days, I find that it’s very difficult for me to even remember what it felt like to believe.
The True Believer™ is dumbfounded by the notion that someone can “get it” and still not believe it. They are taught that the plan itself is so beautiful, so perfect, so generous that if only someone understands it properly, it will do its work on them, like magic almost, and they will believe. It never even occurs to them that it just sounds like another myth to a lot of people.
Here’s another bit of True Believer Trivia: Many True Believers are convinced that what separates True Christianity™ from every other religion is that there is no other religion which includes the notion of “ultimate sacrifice” leading to “ultimate redemption.” They see the attempts by other religions to pursue “perfection” as misguided attempts to rely on man to improve man, and they believe that this is why other religions give themselves away as false. (I wonder why it’s so hard for some people to accept less than perfect?)
It doesn’t even occur to them that to an outsider, every religious paradigm is unique in its own way. Uniqueness doesn’t lend any truth value. It’s akin to saying that Scott Bear’s sci-fi tome “Eon” is true because it’s the only sci-fi novel in which an ancient Chinese civilization is found on a mysterious rock in outer space. No… it’s just unique.
Stay tuned over the next few days. I’ve got a lot of great topics to cover, as well as a book review that — well, if I believed in God, I could almost be convinced that God was trying to convince me that he doesn’t exist. But you’ll just have to wait for that little tidbit.