To be clear, the point of everything now and forevermore is Jesus Christ. In Peterson’s modern translation of the Bible, The Message, he interprets God’s prophetic description of His Son thusly: “Take a good look at my servant. I’m backing him to the hilt. He’s the one I chose, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’ve bathed him with my spirit, my life. He’ll set everything right among the nations. He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped until he’s finished his work – to set things right on earth. …Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled. I’m announcing the new salvation work. Before it bursts on the scene, I’m telling you all about it” (from Isaiah 42). Anyone can read the New Testament for themselves to find out what God meant by “the new salvation work” ushered in by Jesus. The main thing to notice is that the redemption Christ provided wasn’t limited to the members of God’s chosen race. Because of Jesus no particular group of people has an exclusive corner on God’s blessings. While the nation of Israel played a pivotal and unique role in God’s plan for thousands of years, once the Messiah arrived on the scene humanity as a whole became God’s focus in this planet’s history. Remember, God gave His only begotten Son to the world because of His unfathomably deep love for the world. And His gracious, merciful love is the immovable foundation of our hope.
However, when one honestly assesses the sorry shape mankind has gotten itself in these days it’s difficult to imagine how God can possibly turn our sour lemons into sweet lemonade. The Bible tells us we have a glorious future to look forward to but things do appear pretty bleak right now so how’s God going to pull the proverbial rabbit out of this filthy hat? For believers the answer’s quite simple. Nothing is impossible for our God to accomplish. We must never underestimate His ability. We’re taught via the Scriptures that the Triune Godhead oversees and controls all of the grand Creation it brought into being. Not only that, but each and every one of us is treasured beyond measure by our Heavenly Father. He’s not a kind of God and He’s not some sort of indescribable force. He’s a person whom we can know and enjoy developing an intimate relationship with. If someone wants to learn what God’s really like they need look no further than Jesus. He is Emmanuel, a name that literally means “God with us”. As our Lord told His disciple Philip, “The person who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9). The death and resurrection of our Savior changed everything. Dallas Willard wrote, “Human history is then no longer a human affair. It’s Someone Else’s project. Similarly for the individual human life: we’re not puppets, either on the group or the individual level. But what’s really going on is not, after all, what we are doing. …Instead of being the main show, we are of significance only as a – very important – part of an immense struggle between immense forces of good and evil.” In other words, a new era dawned in the universe almost 2,000 years ago and it’s still unfolding regardless of how aware we are of it.
How easy it is to regard terra firma and what goes on here as being all that’s relevant to our lives! We get seduced by our own scientific discoveries and breakthroughs into thinking we’ve got it all figured out. Take quantum physics, for example. Once we detected the existence of quarks we assumed we’d found the building block of all matter. Maybe so. Yet nothing about a quark indicates it’s dependent only upon itself. It’s not sentient. It doesn’t make decisions. It doesn’t govern, it’s governed and that governor will forever be God. There’s no alternative. God is the sole instigator. Einstein spent most of his life pursuing what he called a “unified field theory” in vain because there likely isn’t one to be discovered. Somewhat akin to what I said about quarks, the laws of science can’t thoroughly explain anything in and of itself because those laws don’t have a rock solid “starting point” from which they can move forward. Physical laws don’t explain the raw basics of what motivates matter. Much less what existence actually is. Therefore existence is essentially the fat rhino in the kitchen, so to speak. It won’t budge so secular scientists have to do their best to work around it. It makes for close quarters.
Here’s a related quotation from Geisler and Turek’s thought-provoking book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist: “…While the age of the universe is certainly an interesting theological question, the more important point isn’t when the universe was created but that it was created. …The universe exploded into being out of nothing, and it’s been precisely tweaked to support life on earth. Since this universe had a beginning – including the entire time-space continuum – it required a Beginner no matter how long ago that beginning was. Likewise, since this universe is designed, it required a Designer no matter how long ago it was designed. We can debate how long the days in Genesis were but when we do, we must be sure not to obscure the larger point that this creation requires a Creator.” While most intelligent people concede that behind every effect there has to be a cause, some refuse to apply that indisputable fact to the origin of the universe.
Belief in a Trinitarian-run universe answers a lot of questions because it contains the requisite logic needed. The conclusion that everything was conceived and created by a coordinated, cooperative trio of divine persons isn’t only sensible but entirely sane. And to accept that God is also personal isn’t too much of a stretch because we’re made in His image and we’re obviously personal beings. We see in the Bible that God repeatedly revealed Himself to humankind by personally approaching various men and women and getting involved in their lives. It’s right there in black and white for all to read but some folks just flat out refuse to do that. They’ll bow down to and worship almost anything except the God of Abraham and go so far as to revere their fake idols (money, prestige, etc.) as the ultimate reference points for their lives and actions. Little wonder hope’s in such short supply within their ranks. In fact, they feel emboldened to label Christians as the ones who are most hopeless of all because they opine we trust in nothing more than an elaborate fairy tale. But Paul addressed our situation exactly as it is. He wrote, “For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility – not willingly but because of God who subjected it – in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now” (Romans 8:18-22). Christ-followers aren’t a bunch of starry-eyed, “let’s pretend everything’s hunky dory” dreamers. What we are is a spiritual collective that believes God’s plan will prevail simply because He is, in every aspect, the one true God. There is no other.
Willard once made a remarkable statement. He said God is really knowable only through the redeemed community. And what better way is there for the unified body of Christ to present our Father God to the world than by our maintaining a steadfast, unwavering belief that He is unfailingly good all the time and that what He pronounces good He’ll bring to pass? Few things are as vital for the church to do as to honestly display God’s eternal goodness to the world. The sanctuary doors are open to all who seek refuge from this cruel world. Listen to what Paul explained to the Gentiles (the folks the snooty Jewish religious leaders considered “deplorables”): “So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Nobody is barred from entering God’s kingdom! God’s intent seems to be to bring out of the mass of humankind a sanctified community of souls that were formerly viewed by high society as being of no consequence; as just a bunch of “run-of-the-mill Joes and Janes.” An atheist will ask “Okay, but why? What’s the point?” At that juncture a Christian can only answer with “Because God loves us. We’re what He desires most.” It’s doubtful that response will satisfy them but nevertheless it’s the unavoidable truth of the matter. And God’s immeasurable love was made manifest when He “…gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
For much of my life I was constantly engaged in a futile search for meaning. (I’m positive I wasn’t alone in that quest. Lots of us “boomers” did the same.) Fact is, if we find meaning at all it’s after particular happenings have taken place, not necessarily while we’re in the midst of going through them. This is true not only in our own life but, on a much larger scale, with events that significantly affect the whole wide world. Needless to say I was somewhat frustrated most of the time. But then eight years ago I rededicated my life to Jesus and He provided me with the ultimate point – God and His glorious kingdom – both of which give meaning not only to our lives but the entire history of our planet which we are an irreplaceable part of. Willard wrote, “We’re greatly strengthened for life in the kingdom now by an understanding of what our future holds, and especially of how that future relates to our present experience. For only then do we really understand what our current life is and are we able to make choices that agree with reality.” Sadly and somewhat inexplicably I rarely, if ever, hear sermons about how individual Christians fit into the present and coming kingdom of God and what our function/role is and will be in it. But, thanks to God’s Holy Word, I’ve gained some insights.
First, it’s evident our souls survive their mortal phase. John Hick wrote, “If we trust what Jesus said out of His own direct consciousness of God, we’ll share His belief in the future life. This belief is supported by the reasoning that a God of infinite love wouldn’t create finite persons and then drop them out of existence when the potentialities of their nature, including their awareness of Himself, have only just begun to be realized.” We’re also informed we’re of undeniable, intrinsic worth to God. He’s invested eons of time and energy in seeing to it mankind doesn’t render itself extinct so He obviously thinks we’re “to die for.” As I stated earlier, we’ll continue to exist because it pleases God we do so. Our souls are much more than simply a random conglomeration of matter. We’ll outlast the universe. By the way, God isn’t dependent on matter. Matter depends on Him. He was the great I AM before there was a physical universe. He is spirit. Thus God doesn’t need a brain for He’s the absolute epitome of unimpeded, omniscient consciousness. So, since we’re formed in His image, we’ll continue to exist sans body and brain. We’ll be spiritual beings, freed from the restraints of the flesh.
Those who summarily dismiss even the idea of an afterlife are to be pitied. Some of them claim they think that way because they don’t want to be disappointed but that’s pure foolishness. If they fail to survive mortal death they surely won’t be disappointed. They’ll be gone with the wind. However, if they do survive they’ll find themselves totally unprepared. Thus the only way they could possibly feel disappointment is if they do awaken on “the other side.” In other words, if death’s comparable to a lightbulb burning out they won’t know anything anyway. I hesitate to say it but that’s the coward’s way of thinking. It takes courage to live with eternity in mind. The most depressing thing I can imagine is to think that all of this amounts to nothing whatsoever; that our planet and its inhabitants are no more than a cosmic anomaly. On the contrary, the Bible stresses that each one of us will never cease to exist and that our timelessness is beyond our ability to do anything about. I suspect many weary souls ache for what the poet Swinburne called “the sleep eternal in eternal night”. Sadly, they’re destined to find unconscious sleep won’t come no matter how many sheep they count. I shudder at the thought of a soul discovering they’re separated from the source of all that’s good, all that’s lovely, all that’s wondrous – God – forevermore. Me? I yearn to be in His presence. I look forward to heaven.
So the answer to the question of “What’s the point?” always directs us like a compass needle to Jesus. He is the answer. Hick wrote, “Jesus used symbols pointing to eternal life as limitlessly enhanced life, as a state of being more intensely alive in an existence which is both perfect fulfillment and yet also endless activity and newness. If death leads eventually to that, then although we’ll still think of it with trembling awe and apprehension, it will not evoke terror or despair; for beyond death we will not be less alive but more alive than we are now.” Christ never gave any indication otherwise. He implied those who believe in Him in this life won’t find their eternal existence in the heavenly kingdom of God to be anything short of absolutely amazing. To envision it’ll be anything less than spectacular, invigorating and enjoyable is to limit our Father’s unconditional love for us, the love Jesus gave His own life to make known to all. When it comes to what eternity’s going to be like, no other religion comes close to what Christianity says is ours for the taking. All we have to do is believe in Jesus. He’s the point.