Looking at the news lately is distressing. Not just the abductions and murders committed by a few depraved criminals, but rampant violence, injustice and immorality: terrorists willing to blow people up if they don’t believe in the “correct” religion; government toadies getting rich off the backs of the over-taxed middle class; chosen politically correct groups given preferential treatment at the expense of non-enforcement of existing laws and the re-defining of ordained, established institutions.
The world seems upside down. The Bible, which clearly teaches the love of God, is called “hate literature” by individuals who themselves are “workers of iniquity”. The Bible calls the Messiah the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). So, why then is Islam — the religion that gives us beheadings, misogyny and present-day slavery — called the religion of peace? “Hate” crimes are only called hate crimes when the victims belong to an approved pc minority. How can the face of humanity be hiding behind such an ugly mask?
There is nothing more precious than human life. I consider that truth to be “self-evident”. Why else would the sight of a baby bring smiles to the faces of complete strangers? And why else is that human response universal, regardless of race or culture? Why else would God desire to have fellowship with us (1 Corinthians 1:9) and seek to redeem our lives (Psalm 72:14; Galatians 4:5) to save us from the consequences of sin?
When we, as adults, see a child, we are aware of the growing and learning that must still be accomplished before that child will become independent and productive. Similarly, when God looks at us, regardless of our level of maturity, he sees us as his children, still in need of guidance and support. We may try to be perfect in this life (Matthew 5:48) but we know that true perfection won’t happen until we go to be with him (1 Corinthians 13:12;1 John 3:2). God loves us anyway, just the way we are (John 3:16), and that alone makes human life precious.
When we look upon a tiny baby, we sense intuitively that God is good and that he loves us. We value and marvel at the creation of a new life, a new person. But too quickly, that feeling fades as children grow and begin to exhibit selfish or destructive traits, common to Man. Parents discover they need to be wise in what they teach their children, because the children will learn to copy whatever behavior or speech they are exposed to, good or bad.
Is it just a sentimental feeling, to see a baby and think of God’s goodness and love? Is it a trick of nature that precious little babies grow into adults who assault one another in harsh anger, disrespecting, destroying, dehumanizing one another, returning evil for evil? When so much of human activity is no better than animal savagery, how can one be justified in saying human life is precious, or that God is good, or that he loves us and wants the best for us?
It is the very outrage at Man’s inhumanity to Man that witnesses to the goodness and love of God. God holds us to a higher standard than what is seen in the world today. And the world is failing miserably to live up to his standard.
No, it is not just a sentimental feeling that God loves us. It is my conviction. The Bible says that we are able to love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19), and that the first and greatest commandment is to love God (Matthew 22:37-38 and elsewhere). It is my conviction that God is holy and righteous, and that he creates us in the desire that we become holy and righteous, just like him. But that is far from automatic. Because of sin we cannot cross the great gulf that separates us from God. Even if we consciously choose to enter into God’s presence, God will only receive us if we receive Christ.
The real struggle between good and evil happens inside us (Romans 7:19). Pride gets tangled up in sin, and mistakenly, we try to defend ourselves against the King of the universe, not unlike a child denying his own misbehavior. But when we acknowledge God’s authority over us, and believe he loves us with the greatest love in all eternity, we are then able to humble ourselves and accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. That the Son of God would lay down his life so that I, a sinner, may live is indeed humbling. But that is not the end of it because accepting the Lordship of Christ means staying humble.
What began as a celebration of the sanctity of life morphed into a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil — a struggle to teach any developing child to know the difference between right and wrong and to make the right choices in life. Right living must be learned. It takes hard work. It’s an uphill battle because our very nature is sinful. Yet, all this is still only preparation, because one day each of us must make that ultimate choice to cross over to — or remain separated from — God.
Our Creator doesn’t expect too much of us. Yes, it can be a struggle to learn God’s way of living, but that is because he wants us to overcome sin. We should not deny our own responsibility for how we live, based on feelings or what seems “natural” or the assumption that “God made me this way”. Sin isn’t something that God created. As evil is the absence of virtue, and darkness the absence of light, sin is hiding from God, turning away from God and rebelling against God.
There is a proverb repeated in the Bible that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Without specifically having to identify what that way is, it is sufficient to know that God’s way leads to life, not our way. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” At some point, we all need to accept that our finite brains are incapable of understanding or judging the only infinite God. When a person can accept that, he is ready to accept God’s authority over how he lives his life.
Today, it is commonly held that self-fulfillment is a high and noble state. In a twisting of God’s truth, people are taught to love themselves first, so that they can love others. This focus on self-love is really more about self-indulgence than self-awareness, self-acceptance or self-respect. This is not how God sees love. In the Bible, love is described in many ways, such as discipline (Proverbs 13:24; Revelation 3:19), service (Galatians 5:13), and obedience (John 14:15) — not to mention the fuller descriptions of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 and Colossians 3:12-14. Nowhere in the Bible is love described as self-gratification. Love is always directed toward others. “It [love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking …” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
This is a far cry from popular attitudes today. Somehow, people think that being one’s own authority and loving one’s self are the means to success and happiness. It’s all a delusion. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Because our life is so precious we need to guard our ways. And the best way to do that is to seek the LORD, know him and obey him. Developing a callused heart and ignoring the LORD invites destruction. Yet, sadly, that’s exactly what many are doing today. They are being distracted from the ultimate reality, communion with God.
Another proverb that is repeated in the Bible is, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” The word ‘fear’ has been a point of confusion to many, but for me, it is best explained by applying the concept of balance. The threat of judgement and punishment for sin is balanced by the promise of forgiveness and eternal fellowship in the family of God. The punishment for sin has already been earned by everyone, and is a foregone conclusion — unless and until we confess, repent and receive the atonement and lordship of Jesus Christ.
Because sin separates us from God, God offers to bring us close to himself, as a father would his children. What we accept is Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. Accepting God’s offer restores us to the holy relationship he originally intended with his creation, and is forever. But there is also a bonus. For every person whose struggle with sin brought them to repentance and into God’s presence, God has been glorified. The angels of heaven celebrate the salvation of every precious life (Luke 15:10) because it is another victory for God.
There are now more than SEVEN BILLION precious human lives on Earth. You are one. God wants the very best for you. Don’t settle for second best. For contact information, go to the Door (John 10:7 & 9) and knock and keep on knocking (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9). When you hear Jesus knocking at your door, open it and let him in (Revelation 3:20). It’s a wonderful mystery. You have to be in Christ for the Spirit of God to be in you.
There’s more on this mystery in John 17: 21-23. Jesus prayed, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”