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Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Wake Up Call, Part Two: A Fool's Wager

Hopefully the cheek is still stinging from the recent sharp smack. Strangely enough, most who posted comments about the topic were thankful to receive such a smack. Hmmm...well, this next topic may or may not be so well received. Actually, it was my ten-year-old, Tommy who thought this up on his own. I was so amazed that the two of us talked about it for the last half hour of our drive home from Christmas shopping.

How do you feel about the topic of gambling? I know it's one of those things Christians should steer clear of, but I can't help but bring it up as an illustration. So, here goes. You've got to wager your house (or something else very dear to you). But you have a choice of the type of wager you're going to play. The first wager works like this: You must bet this valuable thing on one of two possible outcomes. If you pick the wrong outcome, you lose everything. If you are correct about the outcome, you win…nothing.

The second type of wager works like this: Once again, you have two possible outcomes to choose from. If you select the correct outcome, you not only win your house but unimaginable riches on top. If you select the wrong outcome, you lose…nothing.

So which type of wager would you like to place? If you're like me, you're screaming: "PICK B, PICK B!!" Why? Why so easy to decide which wager you'll attempt? Both of them are bets. There's a certain amount of uncertainty involved in either one, right? You could still lose, right? But the difference is in the potential consequences of either wager.

In the first wager, there's really nothing to be gained at all…and everything to lose. In the second wager, there's everything to be gained…and nothing at all to lose. Only a fool would attempt the first type of wager. Only a fool.

The tires made a steady thrump-ump on the highway. Intermittent streetlights flash through the windshield. It's quiet in the car. Then, Tommy says to me, "Dad, I don't get it. Why would anyone not go with Jesus? I mean, it's not like Jesus will hurt them or anything?" My son the next C.S. Lewis? I think so. {No bias here.} lol

I was blown away. What a brilliant question. What Tommy was asking was simply another form of the wager scenario I posed above. Person A needs to decide whether or not to believe in Jesus. Certainly there are compelling reasons to believe. There's more historical, archeological, and empiracle evidence for Christianity than any other faith. Jesus himself has more corroboration in history than most ancient leaders. The Bible manuscripts meet accuracy tests that would put ALL other ancient documents to shame. But this isn't really about apologetics. This is a wager. There are unknowns and there very definitely are consequences.

If Person A places a bet against Jesus, ie: there is no God -or- Jesus isn't who he said he is, so I'm just not going to believe in him. I choose to believe that we're all cosmic accidents and that there's nothing after death but nothing. If Person A is correct, then he wins absolutely nothing. He lives his life as he sees fit and dies and disappears. He'll never even know that he was right. But if Person A is wrong, then he loses EVERYTHING to a level beyond comprehension. First of all, he's lost everything he ever "owned" on earth. You cannot take it with you. The Pharoah's tried it, but guess what? It didn't work. But far worse than that, Person A must now face Almighty God and answer two questions: What did you do with your life? And what did you say to my Son whom I offered for you? Person A will have no answer that will satisfy. And Person A will experience eternal death, pain, separation…hell.

But if Person B places his bet to follow Jesus: I don't know everything about you, Jesus, but I'm willing to believe that you died for my sins and I place my faith in you. If Person B is wrong, he loses absolutely nothing*! Person B dies and disappears, never even knowing that he was wrong. But if Person B correct, and Jesus is who He said He is, then Person B wins everything. You win your life now which, though filled with the same struggles that are common to man, will give you an unwavering hope. But more than that Person B will gain eternity in heaven with God.

While Christmas shopping, have you looked at any of the scenic photo calendars? You should. Absolutely breathtaking images: mountain scapes, volcanic eruptions, sunrises over the ocean. Just stunning sights to be seen right here on planet earth. If God made the earth in seven days and has been working on Heaven ever since, there's a fair chance Heaven might be pretty cool. "I go there to prepare a place for you." Isn't that what Jesus said? Can you imagine what Heaven will be like? Nope, me either. Not that I don't try, but the Bible tells us it will be better than we can imagine. So try all you want. Heaven will still be better.

Did you note the asterisk (*) above? It's where I say that the follower of Jesus loses nothing if He's wrong. Well, yes and no. Paul says if the ressurrection is false then we Christians are above all men to be pitied. Jesus told us we would need to lose our life to follow Him. There is sacrifice involved. The thing is, if we're wrong, we'll never know it. If Christianity is false and after death there is nothing, then we die and poof. That's it.

But really, if you become a Christian and seriously follow Him, what do you really lose? Fun? If you think that being a Christian doesn't include fun, you've been sold a line. Any Christians out there in BLOGLAND who have fun? Post a comment and tell us about it.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

The only kind of so-called fun that Christianity prohibits is the kind of fun that most people regret. It's the kind of thing that ends up hurting you in the end.

Why would any person in this lifetime absolutely refuse Jesus? I don't know. It's a fool's wager.


Neil said...

Mr. Batson, if I died without Christ, I would learn of my mistake when I stood before God on the last day.

James Somers said...

Sounds like "PASCAL'S WAGER" wAYNE, and your right the idea seems simple, but here is the proverbial wrench in the works...SIN. Our very nature to sin goes beyond "reason" and pushes pulls humanity away from God. Why do lemmings jump off cliffs? Nature I suppose. For the same reason, sinners go away from God. That's why Jesus said, "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Except God chased down the sinner, confronted him, and gave him the choice...none would come to him.

As for Christian fun? I got to preach last night and see a young boy wager his soul with a winning hand on Jesus Christ. What could be more fun than serving the Creator of the Universe and seeing him bless others through the work?

James Somers said...

Neil--The "Last Day" is a bit late to realize you were wrong and "too late" to do anything about facing eternity in Hell.

Genuine faith in Jesus Christ is actually more than just a guess. Faith is substance / evidence. I received JEsus Christ as Savior, because I truly believed He is the Son of God and saved my soul. If I find I'm wrong in the end of the matter...assuming I could know I was wrong, I'd honestly be shocked! Because I've not guessed, I know!

Nathan Petrie said...

I totally agree Mr. Batson.
If I die and am wrong, as a Christian I have only bettered the world (hopefully) and made life happier for many a person.
If I'm right all of the above will be true and the fact that I will be rewarded in Heaven and given an eternal life with my Savior.

There is no logical or other reason to turn from Christ.

The only reason I can see that people do is the simple fact of not wanting acountability...but they remain accountable anyway.

I love your illistration

Neil said...

I wasn't saying that people could change their wager at the last day, just that they will be informed of their mistake. Sorry for the confusion!

Memzie Latham said...

Thanks for the smacks. I am starting to enjoy being smacked around spiritually. It brings me challenges.

Anonymous said...

awesome posts mr. batson and as for the fun part i have gotten to go to some waaaaay awesome concerts of my fave christian bands like the newsboys and kuttless =D

James Somers said...

Neil--Certainly true, and what a awful realization that will be for the majority of mankind. Unfortunately our Lord said, "few there be that find it(that way)."
Merry Christmas!

Robert Treskillard said...

Great post, Wayne! Very clearly stated. And I agree with your son. Why wouldn't someone come to Jesus?

Just read the gospels everyone! You can't help but fall in love with Christ!


A Fellow Writer said...

Yes, that is Pascal's Wager! As for anyone doubting that Christianity is fun: I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever trade the life I have (as a follower of Jesus) for any other! When I look at the lives of people who DON'T follow Jesus, theirs seems pretty dull and hopeless, in comparison to mine! Convinced now? Being a Christian is a true adventure, and this isn't even the beginning... our TRUE lives begin in Heaven! There it gets even better!

So yes. I have fun being a Christian. Understatement. :)

And great post, btw, Mr. Batson! :D

ElizabethOfMena said...

I loved your idea of Heaven Mr. Batson. :) I had never thought of it that way....

And about Christians having fun: I think the times that I have the most fun in my walk with Christ is the times that I feel really close to my Lord, and he gives me joy, the times that I feel like I'm basking in his presence. It seems so simple, but really, i think it is the most sensational feeling anyone could EVER have!!!!

Anonymous said...

However, the Christian life is not always "fun". Indeed, the Bible says Christians WILL face suffering. We're not talking inconveniences here, but serious hardships. Think about the early Christians - children covered in animal skins and thrown to lions, Christians lit on fire to serve as human torches. And now in our day and age, in other countries, Christians face years of imprisonment and torture for proclaiming the name of Christ. How would we American "Christians" hold up under such circumstances?

WayneThomasBatson said...

No, Anon, being a Christian is not always "fun." I think you're right to offer temperance to the fun talk. My point is simply that so many people think of God as a kind of cosmic Killjoy. When really He offers abundant life. And that abundant life can definitely include fun.

However, becoming a Christian will NOT make your life "worry free" or "pain free." I've been disillusioned at times because when those who first witnessed to me explained what would happen when I became a Christian it was kind of like, become a Christian and:

1. Life will be great
2. You'll always have joy
3. All your addictions and sin will clear right up

I don't think that's the picture that the Bible paints for it. And it's certainly not the life that most Christians I've talked to have experienced.

DragonLily said...

Wow! Please give your son a high five for me, Mr. Batson! And THANK YOU for the wake up smack! I kinda needed that, really.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Ryan P. Howard said...

Great Post Wayne Thomas Batson!
You’re not being at all bias when it comes to your son(lol) That was an impressive question from a ten year old. A question full of more wisdom and heart than many of us have. Why would anyone not go with Jesus? I mean, it's not like Jesus will hurt them or anything? I can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t go with Jesus. He has made my life beautiful. Sure it isn’t always jolly and wonderful, but without Him life would be sad and empty. Life would hurt.

I met a young lady once who used to be a Christian, but turned away. I asked her “What made you stop being a Christian?” her reply was “Because I don’t want to be tied down. I want to be free and open to other things.”
Tied down... Jesus sets your free, he breaks your chains and makes you whole. I find this to be a common answer to many non-believers. How sad! Are we to stubborn to see the truth?

If I am wrong than I will loose nothing, but in my heart of hearts I know I’m not. I have found a love like no other. A love that can’t be found nowhere else.

Anonymous said...

Christians can have tons of fun! like playing Football! :)

Anonymous said...

I love smacks. It is so true. I echo everything said here.

~ queenofnarnia