Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Then, What's the Point?

Why did Jesus die on the cross then?  If everyone gets saved in the end, then what's the point of even being a Christian?  These are the questions that are bound to come up, and there's no way I can give you a pat answer.  I can only try to communicate how I see things differently now.  You most likely know the old way of explaining the cross--Jesus died because we are sinners and God being holy needed to punish sin, so Jesus took our punishment for us. People that agree to follow Jesus are covered under this sacrifice, people who don't agree have to be punished. (without end...because of the word eternal)  I do believe Jesus came and died for us and to save us from sin and death, but of course he didn't die instead of us.  Of course he wasn't punished instead of us, because the apostle Paul clearly tells us to accept punishment from God as a sign of His love...just like a parent disciplining their child.  

We get worked up around the word punishment, because we see it as hateful.  And if a punishment lasts forever, of course it's hateful.  And this is why I believe Christians are so conflicted about loving sinners.  Now, every Christian will say of course they love sinners...God loves sinners!  Unless you bring up the name "Bin Lauden", or "Hitler".  Then it's of course they are rotting in hell for eternity.  God hates them as much as we do, even more! (because He's holy)  Then if you say, "I thought God loves everybody the same?", then it changes to, "Well, these men had a chance to turn to God.  They chose hell instead.  God loves them, and wanted to save them, but now He can't."  Well...which is it?  Did God's love turn to hate as soon as these men died, or will God be eternally mourning the loss of men which he created in His image, but lost to Satan?  And that will be the end of the conversation, if you dare to go there.  But if you truly believe that God is the "Savior of all men, especially of those believing" (1 Timothy 4:10), then it becomes a little easier to love your enemy.  It becomes a little easier to turn the other cheek.  Not easy, just a little easier, because it's hard to hate someone you know God loves. (no matter how bad they are; and then you really know your own badness doesn't stop His love either)  Then you can trust God with giving a just and loving punishment...even if it leads to destruction, because isn't God able to remake what's been destroyed?  Doesn't He desire to eventually make all things new? (Rev.21:5)  Until then, we keep bearing the sins of others against us, not demanding retribution, just as Jesus did.  Because I believe he came, not to be punished in our place, but to show us the road that leads to life.  I'll talk about that next time.