Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Gift of Life

I was roaming around Google +, just seeing what was out there. A video of a cat salvaging a stuffed animal from under a desk, a post of Spock mind-melding with Dr. McCoy, and a beautiful picture of the Butchard Gardens in Victoria. I was reading the responses to a quote from Carl Sagan when something caused me to blink twice.

"I didn't ask anyone to die for me."

Obviously, the comment was directed to something a Christian had posted about Jesus. Whenever there's a post involving religion, belief or the "inerrancy" of science (ha! ha!), many times someone throws in a verse or reference from the bible. In this case, someone made a comment related to Jesus dying on the cross for the benefit of another person.  What struck me was how the writer identified the value of life. Yes, I mentioned 'value'.   As I stated in A Pitch for the Angels, death really was never meant to be.  I believe that we were meant for life, but because we hurt others and God (our sins), death was brought into the mix.  But we all have the choice on how to live out our lives before facing the big "D".  So when it comes to sacrificing one's life for the benefit of another, the choice is up to the giver.  Most husbands would sacrifice their lives for their wives whether they asked them to do or not. The factor that determines that sacrifice could either be the value of the object, or the lack of value of the husband, or love itself.

One certainly can point to the the armed forces and state, "What the government is asking for, in essence, is for individuals who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their government." During boot camp, it's the opinion of a number of people that the government instills in the minds of soldiers that their country is worth the price of one's life.  In that regard, I, as an individual, might point to a soldier killed in action and make the claim, "He/she died for their country, but not for me personally."

Consider the President of the United States.  The President walks into a room with bodyguards surrounding him.  When President Reagan was shot, his bodyguards quickly transferred him into a car for protection.  Signing up for that job is met with the understanding that the President is worth sacrificing one's life for.  It would be an honor to die for the leader of the free world.

Or take the example of a mother and her child. Most mothers (if not all) would exclaim, "I would give my life for my baby!" There's even a proverb that goes, "Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly." That's how valuable a child is to the mother.  One could arguably say, "But a baby could never 'ask' the mother to give her life for her; it's too young." Kind of ridiculous, but it could be reasonably pointed out.

When stating that the sacrifice of life was not demanded or asked for, it begs the question: When is the sacrifice of a life demanded?

What is it about the issue - Jesus dying for an individual - that drives people to cry out, "I didn't ask for it?" Part of it has to do with pride. "I make the decisions over what affects my life and what doesn't. If I want someone who wants to give his/her life for me, I'll marry that person." But it's my say whether that happens or not.  But most of all, it has to do with relevancy.  What does Jesus have to do with me?  It goes back to the purpose of life.  If I were to accept a naturalist's perspective (that all that is touched, seen, heard, felt and sniffed is all that only exists), I the one who pretty much determines any purpose associated with my life, what defines good and evil, and my relationship with the world and everyone around me.  But when we consider our emotions, the draw to believe in something greater than ourselves and the reality of love...we realize that there's more to life than what can be measured in a test tube in a scientific research lab.  That knowledge points to the fact that we are not alone and that there is a greater Good that is reaching out to us to draw us near.  I call that God.  And He's reaching out to us for a purpose.  He wants to give us life.  And this is where Jesus comes in.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

God demonstrated His love to you by giving Jesus for you.  Because of all the wrongs we've done to each other and the way we've thumbed out noses at God, our sins have prevented us from knowing God and experiencing the love, peace, hope - the life - that we were made to have.  And that's the reason for Jesus dying for you.  That's the reason God wants to extend His grace to you.

But as +Jason Velotta states in his blog post, "Royally Pardoned by King Jesus", the gift of God's grace is something that needs to be accepted.  Just as in the example of George Wilson and the pardon for his crimes to stave off execution, each one of us needs to reach out to God and accept the pardon He gives for all our sins.  The pardon for all our sins, which leads to life, has to be accepted from God in order for that life to be received.  Jesus gave his life so that you may have life, and that life is more abundant than anything you have right now.

"God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."

Jesus did give his life for you, and that's good because you need it. Just like I need it, my neighbor needs it, my garbage man and my boss needs it. The world needs it. And the most important decision you could make in life is to take the hand of God which is reaching out to you, and accept that life. He gave his life for you so that you may know true life. That's something worth grasping onto.

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