God's rescue plan

The Sledgehammer of Truth: Stage 1 of God's Rescue Plan

Therefore, to rescue us from godlessness and restore us to paradise, the illusions must first be shattered.  The first step for the Church is to pick up the sledgehammer of truth and to wield it against the illusions to shatter them as the blow of the hammer shatters glass. Does all truth shatter the illusions? No, just the subset of truth relevant to the illusion being shattered. Thus, the two illusions are shattered in two different ways.  Demonstrating the sweetness of paradise shatters the illusion that camouflages it. Demonstrating the sourness of godlessness shatters the illusion that sugarcoats it. The shattering of the illusions transforms settlers whose roots bind them to the hostile desert of godlessness into pilgrims who pass through it. When the illusions are shattered and the truth becomes visible, rational people seek the the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness). It would be contrary to our welfare to do otherwise. The appeal is to our rationality. Our rationality, when exposed to the truth, steers us in the right direction. 

How is the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise shattered? The knowledge of God shatters the illusion. To shatter the illusion, the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).  It was, therefore, decided that the knowledge of God would be transported from heaven to earth and into the hands of the children of Adam and Eve. Arising from the decision was the subsidiary question, ‘what package would be appropriate to hold the knowledge of God during its journey?’. Ordinarily, to hold knowledge, knowledge is put into a book or into some other functionally equivalent repository. However, the knowledge of God is heaven's most precious treasure.  No mere book is suitable to transport it. A package equal in dignity to its cargo was desired. Therefore, into an extraordinary treasure chest, the knowledge of God was poured.  The treasure chest was Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God himself, would carry the knowledge of God from heaven to earth and into our hands. The truth that Jesus carried to us is that God loves us despite our sins. Thus, the treasure chest was also a love note - a love note from God to us.   

Moreover, God was not satisfied with just putting the love note into our hands. God wanted to prove to us its genuineness as well.  He did not want any doubts to afflict us. He wanted us to be 100% certain or as close to perfect certainty as we can attain. Many false, inaccurate and conflicting pictures of the nature of God circulate through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of pictures creates confusion. “This is God” some say as they point to their favorite picture of God. Others point to a different picture and say, “No, this is God.” The controversy goes on ad infinitum. Because of the confusion, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. They decided to give us the gift of the definitive picture of the nature of God. They decided to give us a self-portrait whose fidelity to themselves would be unmatched by any representation made by human hands. So God arranged a demonstration to put the proof into our hands. He wanted us to draw our own conclusions from the demonstration. He wanted us to see the truth, as it unfolded, for ourselves.  Why? Because the truth sets us free (John 8:32). 

The demonstration would be a collision between good and evil. The collision would be bigger than the Big Bang and larger than the Large Hadron Collider. It would take place at Calvary. The collision would be a joint venture between God and us. We would supply the evil for the collision. We would torture and kill him. He would suffer and die. Jesus would supply the good.  Jesus was the good. The collision generated byproducts.  Two byproducts, not just one, were generated:  1) Jesus did not stay dead and 2) Jesus did not stop loving us.  The byproducts of the collision unambiguously revealed to us the identity of Jesus. That Jesus did not stay dead is the irrefutable proof that Jesus is God. That Jesus did not stop loving us is the irrefutable proof that divinity is love. 

The demonstration showed us the existence of a firewall between the evil we do and his love for us. The evil we do and his love for us are disconnected.  Between them is an abyss. The circuit is open. Our God is wired differently than us (Isaiah 55:8-9). The dial that controls his love for us is not in our hands. It is in his. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

At Calvary, the genuineness of the love note was tested. Was the love note real or counterfeit?  If the love note were counterfeit, God's love for us would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. Both he and his love for us survived the evil we did to him. The love note passed the test of genuineness. It was not counterfeit but real. Indeed, we are loved and our lover is God. The proof is in our hands.

Nobody emerges from the black hole of death. It is a one way street. Whoever goes in does not come out - not even Houdini. But he did. He emerged from the black hole of death alive and still in love with us - with his most sacred heart still filled to the brim with love for us.

The love note and the demonstration of its genuineness change everything. They are the elephant in the room. They must be dealt with. They cannot be ignored.  They were put into our hands to stir us to think about them. They are meant to change the course of our lives. Our lives depend on our response to the love note and the demonstration of its genuineness.

What is your response?

 

 

Prior: The Origin of Our Predicament - Introduction to God's Rescue Plan (Click Here)

The Origin of Our Predicament - Introduction to God's Rescue Plan

God did something radical. In the annals of creation, the deed that God did was without equal. It was the polar opposite of expectation. He adopted a policy of loving sinners as much as saints (Luke 15:11-32). This pleased the sinners. However, it aggrieved the saints (Luke 15:11-32). Even an omnipotent God cannot please everybody.

God loved sinners so much that he became one of us - an equal for us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering. They say he pitched his tent among us. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us.

That he did not stay dead is the proof that Jesus is God.

That he did not stop loving us, however, is the proof of so much more. It is the proof that divinity is love. 

Nobody signs up to dive headfirst or, for that matter, even dip his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the exorbitant cost of suffering. All creatures who suffer understand this. Suffering is our native tongue. We understand that suffering is an exorbitant cost we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the exorbitant cost because we are extremely dear to Him.

If God did not love sinners, he would not have given us a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, a fifth chance, etc to start fresh through repentance (Matthew 18:21-22). If God did not love sinners, it would be one, two, three strikes you're out - perhaps even fewer - perhaps even none. The power to start fresh through repentance is in our hands only because God loves sinners. Fortunately for us, our God is not a God of no mercy. He is not a God of limited mercy. Our God is the God of infinite mercy - mercy whose scope includes sinners as well as saints. [Note: Gratitude and godlike mercy to our neighbors is the only appropriate response to the mercy of God (Matthew 18:21-35). Love begets love. Generosity begets generosity]  

However, when Lucifer discovered God's policy of loving sinners as much as saints, he rebelled. In his view, his perfection entitled him to more of God's love than the imperfection of sinners. Fundamental fairness requires that God allocate his love on a sliding scale basis in proportion to a creature's degree of perfection (Matthew 20:1-16). Lucifer was sanctimoniously formulaic. Only an imperfect God, Lucifer reasoned, could love creatures imperfect as much as creatures perfect.

God, however, did not share Lucifer's opinion. For God, love is not a payment for perfection but a gift - a gift he is free to bestow on saints and sinners alike (Matthew 20:1-16). In fact, God views the superiority complex of the saints as a greater threat to his kingdom of love than the imperfections of sinners (Luke 18:9-14).

In protest, Lucifer, the steadfast son (Luke 15:11-32), opted out of paradise for a smaller, purer life in godlessness. So did a gaggle of angels who followed him. In exile, the steadfast son became the serpent. The serpent was obsessed with showing God that his policy of loving sinners as much as saints (Luke 15:11-32) Is crazy - totally insane. The serpent would change God's mind. He would put limits on God's love. He would imprison it.

Surely, the serpent reasoned, if he could induce Adam and Eve to opt out of paradise for godlessness, their ingratitude would empty God's heart of his love for us. [Note: History is the story of the repeated failures of the serpent to extinguish God's love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree.] To accomplish his foul plot, the serpent conjured up two illusions: 1) an illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise and 2) an illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. The two illusions continue to distort our perception of reality today. They trick us into thinking that a life lived without God in godlessness (Genesis 3:5) is superior to a life lived with God in paradise. Nothing is further from the truth. Godlessness sucks. In godlessness, we are fish out of water. 

Next -> The Sledgehammer of Truth: Stage 1 of God's Rescue Plan (Click Here)

Ameliorating the Sourness of Godlessness

The most controversial and least understood part of God's plan to rescue us from godlessness and return us to paradise is the delay. Instead of delivering to us the gift of life and the gift of paradise simulataneously as he did with Adam and Eve, God tweaked the timetable for the delivery of his gifts. God inserted a delay. First God delivers the gift of life, then a delay, then comes the gift of paradise. During the delay, we get to stew temporarily in the sourness of godlessness. This harsh medicine generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. Letting humanity stew in the sourness of godlessness from generation to generation is the surest way to maximize the negative feedback against God. The sourness of godlessness has caused many to shake their fists at God as they cursed him in the foulest of language. It is the basis that drives many to the incorrect conclusion that God is a malicious misanthrope instead of the benevolent philanthropist that he truly is. Yet, in the eyes of God, the effectiveness of the medicine justifies its harshness so God prescribes it. Letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness achieves multiple purposes:

1) God doesn't want us to get fooled twice. One "original sin" is enough. The debacle of Adam and Eve need not be repeated. The experience in godlessness makes it impossible for the serpent to deceive us a second time. When we have learned the truth for ourselves, no lie can deceive us . The sourness of godlessness is the medicine that innoculates us against the lies of the serpent. Having tasted the pig sty for himself, the prodigal son will never return there. Neither will we. When God delivers the gift of paradise to us, we will keep it. We will keep it without turning paradise into a prison, God into our warden and us into prisoners. We will not abdicate the gift of paradise for godlessness as Eve did, as Adam did, as Lucifer did and as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did.

2) The experience in godlessness shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. It shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. After the sugarcoating is shattered, the sourness of godlessness becomes visible to us. Rational people flee the sourness of godlessness. They head for the exit. They pick up the roots they have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness and make their escape. It is contrary to their welfare to do otherwise. The truth sets them free. It transforms them from settlers into pilgrims. The sourness of godlessness is the engine that pushes us on the escape route from godlessness to paradise. It is the "stick" of God's rescue plan.

3) Moreover, the experience in godlessness proves that the serpent was a liar and that God told us the truth . It shifts the credibility from the serpent to God. Now, when there is a conflict between the word of God and the word of the serpent, we prefer the one with the proven track record of telling us the truth .

Indeed, letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness is harsh but effective medicine. In his mercy, however, God has taken measures to mitigate the sourness of godlessness. Here is one of them. There are others.

We were having difficulty passing through the boiling cauldrons of suffering that pockmark the landscape of the valley of tears. We were not very good at it. God took notice of our plight and had pity on us. In the fullness of time, God revealed to us the secret of passing through suffering. The transcendent God descended from heaven to earth to teach us this skill. The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to teach the children of the mud how to tie their shoelaces. He did not just send a memo in which he revealed the secret to us. He did not just hand over a sheet of instructions. He did not just share a link to a Youtube video so we could see how it is done for ourselves. He did not dispatch his subordinates to teach us. The transcendent God himself showed us how to do it. We did not know how to suffer so the Son of God himself paid us a visit to teach us. He demonstrated the secret as we baptized him in the boiling cauldron of suffering. Look, observe and learn. Watch his demonstration .

What is the secret of passing through suffering?

As we baptized him in the boiling cauldron of suffering, He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. He clung with the iron grip of the drowning man who clings to a life preserver in the stormy sea after his ship has sunk. Love is the life preserver. When we cling to love, the Cross does not bury us. We can pick it up. We can carry it. Therefore, cling as Jesus clung. Hold tight and refuse to let go. This is the secret hanging in plain sight from the Cross.

Suffering tends to extinguish love. The tendency is powerful. However, it is a tendency that is more destructive to you than the Cross you are carrying. Therefore, do not heed your natural inclination. Deny yourself. With the help of God, fight the powerful tendency. Refuse its urgings. Like the serpent, it is trying to steer you in the wrong direction. It is giving you instructions that contradict your self-interest. Your natural inclination is lying to you. It is trying to deceive you. You are worse off, not better off, when you yield to it. Your welfare depends on clinging to love and refusing to let go .

Matthew 16:24-26 is not a recommendation to suffer. It is a recommendation to love.

Recall that the evil we did to him ought to have, at the very least, pissed him off. It ought to have antagonized him. It ought to have earned us a place on his shit list. It ought to have provoked his natural instinct for justice. It ought to have triggered his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. It ought to have transformed him into our enemy - into a misanthropic monster - into the God who hates us. It ought to have shifted God from the pro-human team to the anti-human team with the serpent and his minions. When the fuse is lit, the bomb ordinarily explodes. But, remarkably, it did not. The fuse worked but the bomb was a dud . The evil we did to him did not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree . He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. God let us get away with murder - with deicide . Such is the nature of God ! Wow! Our God is a benevolent philanthropist not a misanthropic monster. This is the good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

P.S.

Another measure that God put in place to mitigate the sourness of godlessness is the brevity of life. God made life brief. A life is but an infinitesimally thin slice of time when we compare it to the thickness of eternity. The brevity of life proves the mercy of God.