6/20/16 Edwin about 22
Choice. As Americans we have graduated from a cup of greasy,
grounds-filled coffee on a wagon trail to hundreds of choices and
variations on a Starbucks menu. We are used to walking down long aisles
at the grocery store with dozens of choices of, say, breakfast cereals
on either side. We have come to believe that choice is our God-given
right, that our happiness must never be denied. And many take that
choice entitlement to religion, choosing what they want to be true for
them, whether it has to do with childbirth, gender, or what to believe
about our relationship with God in the first place.
motivated Edwin, a young man from Hong Kong, to tell me he believes in
the "New Age". I had heard that term years ago, and knew it was no
longer "new", so I asked what he believes it means. Edwin has taken
what he believes to be the best of a variety of religions and fashioned
his own set of beliefs that he feels he can live with. He had formed
his own image of God in his imagination, much like the idol worshipers
did with their statues in Moses' day.
It wasn't too hard to
show Edwin that the beliefs he has chosen are contradictory. For
example, he believes in the Judeo-Christian idea of one God, but rejects
the idea that God could be judgmental. He believes we are reincarnated
into various life forms according to our actions during life, but
denies that any judgment is being made about our behavior. He rejects
the idea that heaven or hell could reward or punish behavior, but
believes that those born into impoverished or even tragic circumstances
are simply receiving payback for bad behavior in a previous life, but
then again he also believes in social justice.
the Bible as being too exclusive, saying this is evidence that it can't
be true. It should have a universal storyline, in which everyone is
treated the same. But why can't truth be specific? I told Edwin that
in math, for example, there is usually only one right answer and many,
many wrong answers to a math problem. The infinite number of wrong
answers doesn't make the correct answer any less true. Christianity
isn't any less true just because there are hundreds of alternative
beliefs. The Gospel is either true or it is not. This isn't Starbucks.
But is there not a universal message in Christianity? We do
have a universal problem. All people, regardless of religious
background, have a general knowledge of good and evil. We all have a
conscience, and we all break it. We all need to be reconciled to our
Creator. And the Bible teaches that there is a universal solution.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Many
have been trained to believe that the lack of choices is a negative
thing, demeaning even. That it isn't fair. They look at the awesome,
overwhelming truth of John 3:16 with a critical eye, saying "Why is
there ONLY one choice?" But we must realize and accept that without
that one choice, we are lost and without hope for our eternal future,
condemned to reap the just consequences for our sin.
question is why have we been given any choice at all? Do we really want
what we deserve? God gave His ONLY Son. That is what isn't fair.
We've been given the gift, God's own Son, and the opportunity to be in a
right relationship with God forever. It may not be fair, but we have
hope, we have a future, and we have a Savior who shows us just how petty
all the choices of Starbucks really are.