(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
It would sure be a lot easier in many respects if Christianity were to state that in the end, everybody wins. Wouldn't that make for a happier world? Just think of it. No winners and losers. Just winners. No heaven and hell. Just heaven. No cross and empty tomb. Just generic religion. You know, such as Universalism for example. Everyone wins in that system. Why can't Christianity be more like that?
Why does there have to be such an insistence on people being "born again" and saved? Can't we all just come to an agreement that God already lives within each of us? You know, like New Age teaching does in their system. Why can't Christianity be more like the New Age Movement? Why do there have to be winners and losers?
Why can't everyone just have their own religion and we leave it at that, without any talk of wanting to see people converted? Can't they just be left alone to follow their god as they have come to understand him, or her, or it? Then everyone would win, wouldn't they? Everyone would be able to congratulate everyone else on their religious progress, no matter what religion they choose to follow.
For that matter, now that even atheists have started their own brand of Sunday services in some places, can't they win too? OK, so they don't believe in a god. So what? They still deserve to be respected as human beings, right? Why does any belief system have to teach that atheists "lose" in the end? That's not very nice is it?
So what's the deal? And why do Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to victory?
I am glad you asked. It is an excellent question. And one that people are dying to figure out.
To begin with, I don't know of one Christian today who would have come up with the definition of Christianity which God has given us. It is unlike anything man would invent. That's because it is foreign to our way of thinking, especially as it relates to winners and losers.
Shouldn't the religion that claims to be true and loving also be the one where everyone wins in the end? How loving is it to have people lose and get left out of the party? How loving was it for Jesus to proclaim that He is the Truth and the only Way to the Father? (see John 14:6)
Again, I don't know of a single Christian who would have developed such a system if God had said to him or her, "Hey, why don't you go ahead and develop a religion that will bring glory to me and spread my love to others." Seriously, who would have come up with what guys like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and Peter wrote about in the 27 books of the New Testament? Can you think of anyone who would have created the story to be fashioned in this way?
It's a story where many people end up on the short end of the stick, to say the least. If you happen to be on the winning team, then no worries. But what about all the other folks? Is it simply a matter of, "Just let them go to you know where if they don't like this system." Is that God's attitude? And is that the attitude of someone who truly knows God?
The answer is an emphatic, "No." That is not God's attitude. And it is not the attitude of those who know Christ. Instead, the attitude is one of concern, compassion, love, longing, and prayer for those who do not yet understand that "winners and losers" is the only deck of religious cards that we have been dealt. There is no other system that reflects the truth about God and eternity. This is it. We can take it or leave it, but none of us will be able to escape it.
In order to grasp this hard teaching, one must come under the wellspring of God's love, and grace, and forgiveness. Under that fountain, you still will find it difficult to accept the fact that so many people are going to lose in the end. But you come to accept it, not because you would have created this system, but because you trust the One who has way more wisdom Himself than all the rest of us put together.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Cor. 1:25)
Remember. He is God. And just because we don't fully understand His ways is not proof of our insight and wisdom. Instead, it's just more evidence that He is the Creator and we are the ones who were created to follow His lead. He didn't sin. We did.
And if I may say one more thing. No one truly wants to follow His lead out of love for Him until you first come under the fountain of His grace and mercy. God's living water gives you a new heart, with new attitudes, and a bunch of new desires. You still don't fully understand that whole "winners and losers" thing, but it no longer keeps you from loving the One who gave His life on the cross for your eternal salvation.
So why does Christianity have winners and losers? I don't know, other than to say, there is not one of us who is worthy to win anything from the Lord. We have all broken God's commands. Only Jesus can take someone off the losing path and place him or her on the path to paradise. And I hope that today is your day to see the light, and trust in the One who does things differently than you would have done them.
How many of us would have sent our only son to save others from their sins? How many of us have love that even comes close to the sacrificial love which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have for all of us?
"God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth," (1 Timothy 2:4) and real Christians want the same thing. If you meet a professing Christian who doesn't want others to be saved, then know this: That is a professing Christian, but not a real one. Real Christians want lots of winners, even though we know based on Scripture that many will go to their grave without faith in Christ. And it is a burden that you too will learn to carry should you come under God's wellspring of grace and be saved.
But a burden like that, albeit real and heavy, is nothing compared to what Jesus taught about the eternal burden carried by those who end up in hell. Jesus was not a universalist. If He had been, Christians would be the first ones to celebrate that system. We want everyone to win, but we also know that we must deal with things as they are, and not merely how we would have done it if we were God.
Can you see the arrogance of that hypothetical situation? To assume that "we would have done it differently" reveals how little we have come to understand the true God of the universe. To know Him is to be humble in His presence. To compare ourselves to Him, or to question His system, is to come dangerously close to rebellion.
Who will rescue us from ourselves? When you discover the answer to that question, you will be at a point where you are able to rejoice in the fact that you are a winner with God today, tomorrow, and forever. And you will have a longing to help many others come to know the truth themselves.
At the end of the day, the only ones who lose are those who insist on doing it their own way rather than with Christ as Savior and Lord of their life. And no matter how narrow that message may seem to us, it doesn't make it false. It just makes it narrow. And that's one part of Christianity all of us struggle with to one degree or another.