I got up with the song Tell Out My Soul in my head, and I could go with that and tell you how great and wonderful God is, how many blessings I’ve had from him, but…
If you don’t believe in God then none of these things would be enough to convince you, and it’s sort of the wrong way round anyway – you see, the most important point is not that God is good, that he is slow to anger and abounding in love, that he gave his only begotten son so that all who believe in him should not perish – those are important things you need to know about God, but there’s something else, a lot more basic, that many people I talk to seem to miss:
He is God.
By which I mean: he is the one who created this whole world out of nothing, he is the one who keeps this world going and without him we would not exist. He is the one who calls the shots. He has the right, he has the authority, he has the power to call the shots – whether or not we like the way he runs the show. The fact that he is good, loving, merciful, benevolent towards us – that’s great, but it’s not like we can pick and choose, looking at a selection of different deities in the market stall and saying: oh, I’ll have the one who seems nicer… There isn’t a selection of different deities to choose from. Not real ones.
There is only one who is the real God, the one who really made this universe and all that’s in it, the one who brought us into existence and has the power to snuff us out in a moment, the one who gets to decide what happens to us not just in this life but in the next, the one who will ultimately judge us – and he gets to set the standards by which he will judge us. We don’t have a say in this.
It’s a bit like you don’t get to choose your parents – though you might throw a teenage tantrum and yell that you wish you could, you still don’t get a choice about who actually brought you into this world. Your choice is limited to how you react to the situation you’ve been placed in, but you can’t rationally pretend that the situation is different, that you’re really the child of that other person who lives down the road. You might think your parents are unreasonable (doesn’t every teenager think that?) and in some cases your parents may actually be unreasonable, but they’re still your parents.
God – the real one – is the one who brought this whole world into being, and pretending that someone else did (someone nicer, someone who doesn’t demand so much from you, or some kind of impersonal force that you don’t need to engage with personally) is an option that is only available to you on a very temporary basis: it’s something you can believe for now, for this short phase we think of as our lifetime, but then you’ll die and you will come face to face with the real, living God.
And the real, living God is wonderful but…
Don’t leave it until it’s too late. God sent his Son to die so that you won’t have to face the terrible judgement you deserve – and it’s not just you, I deserve it too and am so grateful that I won’t have to suffer for all the evil I’ve thought and said and done! Thanks to Jesus, who lived a perfect, sinless life and took the punishment he didn’t deserve, who bled and died in agony for me and for you and for all mankind, thanks to his amazing sacrifice I get to go to heaven as though I was a purely good person! As though I’ve never behaved like a selfish, self-centred human being… but I know what I’m really like, so I can say with Paul:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.