The Pretext For This Post
At an excellent post by altruistico, What is the gospel?, I had a little exchange withArkenaten. likes to amuse him by trying to torment Christian bloggers with questions to which we have no answers. What was his question?
In your own words, please explain why an omnipotent deity who can do anything needs to have a blood sacrifice to avert his ”wrath”? (from here)
Since I am not God, and God did not choose to give an answer to that question, I do not know the answer to ‘s question. It is a good question, but all I can say is that God required the sacrifice as the price of our disobedience. I can also say that the penalty for disobedience, death, has something to do with our failure to love God.
The Gift And The Burden Of Love
We usually think of love as a beautiful gift, and it is. Love is the greatest of gifts, but love is also a stern taskmaster.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
It is easy to receive love, but giving love requires enormous effort. Yet the gift of love is the ability to give love, not receive it. For the sake of those we love we must be virtuous. We must not sin. We must not choose fleshly pursuits and be indifferent to or hateful of our Creator.
Consider what God demands of us. He commands us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind (Matthew 22:34-40). And what is our reward? We get to know God, our Creator, but who is God? How can we love someone we do not know? In truth, I do not think we can. So even if we could be as virtuous as love requires we have a big problem.
Fortunately, we have clues as to the nature and character of God. We have His Creation. We each have His moral law within our heart. We have His Word, the Bible. We have each other, human beings made in the image of God.
So how can we strive to know God and learn to love Him as He rightfully demands?
We can diligently study His Creation. If we want to learn about the talents and the character of a craftsman, we can study what he has created. Consider then, all the names you know of human craftsmen, the furniture makers, the painters, the movie makers, the musicians, the dancers, the athletes,… We all make and remake things. Some of us make objects. Some of us pour ourselves into our children. Others produce art, and some rework their bodies into instruments of grace and power. Because God made an entire universe for us to observe, we can study what He has made and learn about Him endlessly.
The Moral Law
We can each examine our own lives. We can learn what makes us happy and what makes us sad. Eventually, because of that moral law within each of our hearts, we may learn something that will surprise us. As Aristotle observed in his work on ethics(THE ETHICS OF ARISTOTLE), it is the pursuit of virtue that brings happiness.
Many think riches bring happiness. So they buy a lottery ticket and dream, or they work aggressively and horde every dollar they earn. Others drink and party. Others have sex. Still others strive for important positions. Yet such efforts always fail to produce happiness.
When he wrote Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, fabulously rich and wise, explained what he had learned from his varied and diligent efforts to find happiness without God. Solomon failed. So Ecclesiastes is very much a dismal work. It is about all the ways a man can waste away his life. Without God, King Solomon, the Preacher could only exclaim:
Ecclesiastes 12:8 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“All is vanity.”
Therefore, here is how he summed up how one should live.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
In our day the Bible is much maligned, especially by some of those who call themselves Christian. In his post Number please, ColorStorm provides us with an an example of Christian who does not believe the Word of God is true. His post earned this biting comment.
Made In The Image Of God
We can guess the reason why God gave us each other to love. There is this clue in Genesis 2. Because we have so much trouble relating to our Maker, even in His presence Adam felt alone.
God wants us to love Him. We need to love Him, but even Adam failed to know God and love Him. Out of His pity, God gave Eve to Adam, and Eve gave birth to many children. So now we have brothers and sisters.
1 John 4:20-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
Obedience by Faith
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
We were each made in the image of God. What we see of God in each other, we must love, and with the gift of the Holy Spirit we can begin our journey and follow Christ.