March 22, 2014.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
Two children are playing with a kickball outside, kicking it back and forth, laughing and having a marvelous time. The boy and girl have been friends for a few years now, ever since he moved into the neighborhood. She had been so kind to him from the beginning, you know how kids are, always seeing the best in everyone. Neither had any reason to doubt each other, or mankind in that case. As the ball goes back and forth between two children who surly will be lifelong friends, an older gentleman enters the yard and sees the ball they are playing with. He thinks to himself, “Hmmm, you know, my son would really love to have that! He’s been wanting a kickball for a few months now.” The gentlemen walks over to the two children and asks them to kick the ball to him. Thinking he wanted to play too, the little boy joyfully kicks the ball in the gentleman’s direction, who subsequently picks up the ball and walks away. “Hey! Come back! That’s not fair!” the two kids shout in vain. The gentleman is past the point where their parents told them they were allowed to be. Soon he is out of sight and all hope for their beloved toy to be returned is gone. Not knowing what else to do, the two children sulk inside, all but brokenhearted.
Now, if you are a rational human being, you probably are upset with the gentleman that took the ball away from the kids. Well, if we’re being honest, its probably more likely that you are wondering why I told such as disheartening story. Either way, I believe I can still make the point. How did you feel when the man took the ball? Were you upset with him? Did your heart go out to the two children who just wanted to play? Did you cringe as a little bit of innocence was taken from the children? I think all of these answers would be valid reactions. If you had seen this exchange take place, what would you have done? Chased after the man? Told him he couldn’t do that? Told him to give the ball back to the kids? Probably.
But on what grounds?
What authority do we have to say that the gentleman in the story was acting incorrectly? Innate in every human being is this concept of right and wrong. The concept of what is fair and not fair, at least in the case of the individual. Many would refer to this force of conscious as “moral law.” The law that states that no matter what culture or set of social norms you live it, it is not right to kidnap and rape a helpless woman. The fact that it is not acceptable to murder one of my family members or friends. The fact that oppressing the poor is not honorable in the least. But where does that come from?
Evolutionarily speaking, moral law does not hold a place in history. We can get into what types of evolution happen or don’t happen, or if it harmonizes with Christianity or not later, but the point I am making is from a strict, atheistic evolutionist point of view, the man had every right to take that ball, and perhaps would even be encouraged to do so if it were to help his offspring be a little happier and more likely to thrive. However, the majority of human beings on this planet would not be ok with that man doing that. So where does our sense of morality come from.
I opened with the verse from Isaiah because I like how God talks to his children here. “Come now, let us reason together…” God is a God of reason. He hasn’t started the world and said “well, good luck figuring out why you are here.” He is actively involved in human affairs, wanting all to come to him. Then why not just program us all to go to him, you might ask? Love that is forced is no love at all. Free will is the only reason that love exists. They cannot exist autonomously, at least not in the world that we understand today. But with free will comes risk, and that is a risk that God was willing to take for the sake of love.
Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there meaning to life? If you do not believe in God, it is very hard to answer those questions. Either you find a work around some other way, or you have to answer it in the only way possible: there is no purpose. And this is a dark, lonely thought. Yes, we can strive to be kind and compassionate, or create a legacy that will live on after we are gone, but in the end… well, there is nothing. No gain, no celebration, no good feeling. Simply nothing.
Isn’t it great that this is not the case? One might even say, its good news. But there is bad news first. Because we know that we have the moral law, we also know that no mere human has ever completely upheld this moral law. We are a wicked, selfish people. We try to make up for it, but no amount of good we do can erase the bad. This is why a sacrifice was needed. A perfect person, one who was able to uphold moral law completely, and then vouch for us. Hallelujah, what a savior. That’s the good news. Jesus Christ, the perfect lamb, crucified by our sins, yet raised on the third day to defeat death and sin. Good news, salvation is for all who will come to him. Will you have faith? Will you leave your life of self and sin? Will you call him Lord? Will you be buried with him in baptism for the remission of your sins to raise like him, a new creation? All this can be yours. Consider taking the first step out of our fallen world.
Suggested Daily Reading: Acts 2, 8, Hebrews 9-10.
All who are weary, come.