1/16/14 Aaron about 25
If a person were to believe that 1 + 1 = 3, would it not be reasonable for them to believe that 1 + 2 = 4 ? In fact, they could go on to build a whole belief system based on a false premise: 1 + 3 = 5; 1 + 4 = 6 and so on. It would all seem so right and logical to them, and it would all be false. It works the same way with our understanding of the Bible. The basic premise we start out with, the foundation, is all important, and in so many ways, those foundations are found in Genesis, the Book of Beginnings. A young man named Aaron, whom I reached out to after doing my grocery shopping, reminded me of this. Aaron grew up in a large Baptist church in Texas, but has fallen away from church attendance since he has moved to Chicago, complaining about outward things like worship and clothing styles. So I cut past all that and went to the heart of the issue – “Where will you go when you die? How can you know?” He answered - “Well, I don’t think God will send good people to hell, so I think most people will go to heaven. I think only one person in a million is bad enough to go to hell. Love wins!” he said confidently. Aaron had built a whole belief system based on a false premise, and it seemed so right, so logical to him. He had started with a false premise that goes against what we find in Genesis – that people are inherently good and deserving of whatever good thing God gives us, including salvation. This idea that man is good actually makes the biblical God bad, for only a tyrant would condemn good people to hell. So one is left with rejecting that tyranical God and inventing a different one, modifying biblical ideas about God to better fit into our belief system. What could I say to correct Aaron’s misunderstanding of the Bible in a short grocery store conversation? I took him all the way back to Genesis. After we started out “very good” in God’s eyes, we were condemned after Adam and Eve’s rebellion. But we can’t blame them - “We all have a conscience, the knowledge of good and evil, yet we often break it. We know better, but we do it anyway. It’s like biting that forbidden fruit all over again.” The Bible simply doesn’t make sense if we start with the false premise that we are good or innocent and deserving of rewards, but it makes perfect sense if we understand that we deserve condemnation, and any kindness or mercy God shows us is undeserved. Outside of Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, enemies in rebellion against God. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us..” (Romans 5:18) Only God is good; we are not. Let’s get back to that solid foundation found in Genesis.