A video has been making the rounds on the Internet these days that begs a response. Before I make my comments, take time to watch this for yourself.
Here is my point-by-point counter-narrative.
* Welcome to this world. You have so much value that your creator would sacrifice himself for your sake.
* Though we Christians are fond of employing the hyperbole, it is unbiblical and inconsistent with God’s character to say any person (created in God’s likeness) is worthless. Indeed, your very creator gave his own human life for you before you were ever born, just so you could choose to relate to him or not. Because that’s what gives life meaning—choice. Without choice, your existence would be meaningless.
* When some want to insist you were born a “sinner,” that simply means you were born independent of God, the source of all life. That is why there are any such “wages” as death. And that condition was your parents’ own doing, as it will be yours if you do not choose to be in relationship with God. It’s like light and darkness—if you choose to be independent of light, then you can only have darkness with all of its consequences. The problem, though, is the absence of light, not the consequences of darkness.
* Any forgiveness you seek must be for your own actions, which are merely consequences of your state of being independent from God (as if you were thrashing about in darkness, damaging others in the process). That state of being independent from God is the reason you will be cruel and hurtful and mean—animalistic, even—toward other people who are likewise God’s children. You, like everyone else, will inflict suffering upon others to greater or lesser degrees. History bears this out—there is only one exception . . . when God himself became a human (and he, of course, was not independent from God and therefore not in darkness, as he is himself the light.)
* But do not believe the lie that you murdered Jesus. He gave himself of his own volition—your creator loved you enough that he would be hurt for you before you ever were born, just so that you could choose to love him back . . . or not. But you are not guilty of killing your creator. Your guilt is for the things you do because of your separation from God. It’s the separation he wants to heal, and then you needn’t hurt others.
* For example, God wants you to be a generous person, giving of what you have for the wellbeing of others, rather than only your own interests. He knows that the more you give of yourself to other people, the more you will love other people and him. God also does not want you to give anything if you don’t want to . . . that would be meaningless. After all, who wants to receive a gift from anyone who resents giving the gift?
* Billions of people throughout history have known God personally and have known him to be real in their lives, though they’ve not seen him. They cannot see the wind either, but they can see its effects and experience its impact upon themselves personally. They have known there is far more to reality than what you can see with your mere eyeballs. They know they have minds, not merely brains. They know the whole of what they themselves are is greater than the sum of their own parts.
* And then there is that Bible. God has revealed himself in various ways throughout human history, and he reasonably ensured the events and communications were variously and honestly recorded over centuries by dozens and dozens of different authors, from the context of their own culture and worldviews (always remember—choice is meaning). The anthology of those writings remarkably has survived like no other ancient writings to this day. Just as we can learn so much about human nature by studying ancient history and literature, we can learn so much about God’s nature by studying these writings from and about his engagement in human history. May you never be so myopic as to believe only contemporary thought can convey truth to you—if anything, it tends to be the opposite. God speaks in many ways to people, but always listen especially carefully to the ancient voices that for good reason have survived the test of time.
* Christians believe like the one whom they follow (God incarnate, Jesus Christ) that the message of their creator becoming human so as to set them free from the tyranny of self-centered independence from God, is good news. They benevolently want to share the good news that is obviously as universal as any truth could be. If your creator actually did become human like you so as to redeem a relationship with you and free you from your natural inclinations to hurt and be hurt, then that is something you and everyone else should want to know. Though some twist this into a tool for domination, as if they could force people to believe as they do (meaningless anti-choice), they are themselves acting independently of God . . . because God himself would never do such. God will never force you to believe in or as him.
* But know this—heaven is no mere reward. That is like saying sex is the reward of getting married. Heaven is simply being with those whom you love—including (and especially) God, who is certainly the greatest person to be with. But that existence is not merely going to be about singing praises for all of eternity. It is going to rather be all that this life is, but without the separation from God . . . without the cruelty, war, disease, suffering. All of the adventure and exploration and growth and depth without the pain and futility of this world. And it won’t be merely seen by the dead. Rather, it will be seen only by living people—some who have always dwelt there, others who will have new bodily forms that are incorruptible. It’s the ultimate evolution. Heaven will be what every person deep inside senses should be in this reality—it will finally be as good as it gets.
* The writings called the Bible do occasionally describe an alternative to the greatest adventure known as heaven. Some will tragically choose to remain separated in relationship to God, and that must be the truly miserable existence. It will likely be more miserable than the hell people go through on this earth, but it certainly is consistent with what so many are likewise suffering right now, and all because of general human independence from the creator (i.e., all that humanity has suffered is hell on earth, of our collective own doing). So many people suffer profoundly because we all are in control, rather than God. There are terrible pictures of what is popularly called “hell” in the Bible; but they hardly even represent the misery that is here in this world, let alone in any place called “eternity.” God’s love extends to redeem people from all hell; but he will not force any to accept the only solution to darkness—light. Those who will resist love can only know misery on their own.
* Resist the simplistic and foolish inclination to believe there is nothing more to reality than what you can see or touch. Science itself does not bear this out. It is the myopia of the empiricist (a distinct minority among the vast majority of humanity). Nature and logic reasonably lead you to know there must be a designer of the designed, and that matter and order do not come out of nothing and chaos. More so, your ability to think and discern meaning comes from a source that has meaning . . . for you know deep in your soul (and you do have one) that there is such a thing as meaning—there is love. Love is real, and there must be a source that loves.
* For millennia billions of people have been communicating to their children, generation upon generation, that there is such a thing as love—that truth is real and personal. And that they are authentically loved, because their creator first loved them before they ever came into existence. Some have taught the alternative to their respective children—that love and truth are meaningless, and that you are little more than a sophisticated animal, and self-preservation is supreme . . . that you are worthless unless you can survive, and at others’ expense. That your own interests, or those of your pack, should transcend all else. But never listen to those voices. Creature though you are, you are more—you are a person who can love and choose, because you were created by the person who defines love and choice.
* From those of us who know God, welcome to this world. Your creator wants so much to welcome you to his.