16 February 2010

Answers that only lead to more questions

Yesterday, I posed a riddle.

Last night, at our house, a rather rapid fire discussion ensued as "they" tried to solve it. Can you guess which one of the older kids (Brendan, Rebekah, Nadia, Anna or Victoria) actually came up with the solution? =D

For those of you who are dying (not literally) to know: "The souls of the condemned are, by their very nature, selfish and self-centered and think only of how the world affects them. They took their long, pointed sticks and tried to feed themselves. In so doing they paid the price of all such selfishness... they were left empty and hungry and angry. On the other hand, the souls of the departed pardoned had learned the futility of serving the self and had experienced the joy of sharing and serving others. They used their sticks to feed eath other and each received the blessings of a life given to service and a life given to loving one's neighbor."

Well, actually, that wasn't a verbatim answer to the riddle... the child who successfully solved simply said that the folks in heaven fed each other, which was, of course, the correct solution.

And it really didn't take them too long to figure out that correct response... what got interesting was when I asked them why that was the answer.

Essentially, the "whys" boiled down to the fact that the people in heaven were good people acting like good people and the people in hell were bad people behaving as bad people generally did.

Does anyone else see a problem with that thinking? I do not believe that it is truthful or right... if we look at it biblically. Biblically, we are all self-serving sinners and any change in behavior has nothing to do with who we are, but who we are allowing to direct and change us... who our God is. This riddle reveals a deeply held belief that it is the good people who end up in heaven and the bad ones who are condemned to hell. It fits our human concepts of fairness and justice. Yet the Bible is quite clear that we are all bad people and that the inhabitants of heaven will be there on the merits of Christ's righteousness, not on the merit of what they might have learned and accomplished during their lifetimes.

We must be so careful that an insidious "other Gospel," one contaminated by any unbiblical messages such as

  • salvation won or earned in part or in whole by works,
  • salvation kept or lost based upon what men do, or
  • works that result in earning God's love

for these all draw away from the truth that once a person has been justified by faith in the atoning work of Christ, God sees the righteousness of His Son, not the works of the man, as He gazes upon us. Any works are to be the outpouring of God's love, grace in grateful hearts.

This side of eternity, it will be a continual battle to stop myself from saying, "God, look at me! Look at what I've done for You, in Your name!" instead of thanking God for covering me with the garment of rightousness, purchased by the blood of His Son and enabling me to be His instrument.

1 comment:

  1. Well, since I don't want to offend any of the kids, I'm not going to guess, or rather, I'm not going to tell you my guess which child solved the riddle first.

    My reasoning for why the stick people behaved the way they did is this (stay with me - I shift gears kinda fast): All men are created equal - we know that from one of those fancy government documents (plus that verse that says that all have sinned). So we all started out on a collision course with those poor saps in hell who never mastered the art of eating with a stick. The ones in heaven learned one of the most important lessons of all, and that is that we can't do anything on our own. They also learned from Christ's example of serving others. But one of the best things they learned was that they were on that collision course, and to change their course, they had to change who they were - BUT remember, they also learned they couldn't do anything on their own, and as everyone knows, we can't change anyone else, either, so they had to find someone who could do it for them. Jesus paid the penalty required, and when we only believe and ask, He not only forgives our sins, but He actually changes who we are. God no longer sees us as sinners, even though the flesh is still inclined to sin, He sees us as His own children, and as such, perfect.

    So in a way, the kids' analogy wasn't far off. The ones in hell were bad people who were never changed into children of God, and so they didn't know how to act any different. The ones in heaven used to be bad people, but were transformed into the perfect children of God, living only to serve, without ever asking 'What's in it for me?' I know there's a lot more to it than that, but I don't want to write a huge book here.

    It's so much simpler to just say, 'They fed each other.' But that answer to the riddle simplifies it too much, still leaving the question you asked - WHY did the ones in heaven feed each other. And it blurs the order in which things happen. The riddle could be interpreted that they got to heaven because they knew how to do good things, when in reality, they did good things because of the change God made in them, and that change is what got them into heaven, not anything they did. There will be a lot of people in hell who know how to serve each other, but doing good things is nothing without having God change who we are.

    Now, is your head spinning yet? Mine is, and I wrote this. Of course, I went back and changed a few words here and there, or else my head may have just snapped off and rolled under the bed, and I'd never be able to reach it down there.

    Oh, by the way, Tim, happy belated birthday. Congratulations, you are now officially over the hill! But that's OK, cuz I'm hot on your heels.


Stop in for a chat! I love to hear what you have to say ~


Related Posts with Thumbnails