Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A God Worth Obeying

This week, I was talking with a friend who comes from an eastern background. She is not a Christian and often asks questions, trying to make sense of us and our God. Yesterday, she said, “Your God is not fair!”

I asked what she meant and she explained, “Your God forgives people for everything.”

“That’s true,” I said. “God is all about forgiveness. Why does that bother you?”

She said, “When you do something wrong, you should be punished. When you do something right, you should be rewarded. This teaches you to be a better person.”

I said, “That is Karma.”

She gestured excitedly, “Yes! You know Karma? Then you know it is the best way. We must learn from our actions and the results of our actions! How can a God who forgives everybody teach people to be good?”

I laughed and said, “Good question. Imagine you are driving in an 80km zone but are traveling at 120km. You hear a siren, look in your mirror and see a police car. What will happen?”

“You will be punished!” she said, triumphantly.

“Yes,” I continued. “You will have to pay a huge fine and loose your license for a year. How will you feel when you pay the fine?”

“Bad,” she said.

“Yes, and after a year of feeling bad, many people feel they have paid their penalty. Some may even hate the police. Will they ever speed again?”

She looked sheepish. “Yes, probably.”

“Now imagine the scene again,” I said. “Imagine you are driving in an 80km zone but are traveling at 120km. You hear a siren, look in your mirror and feel a horrible thump on the front of your car. You stop and look. You have hit and killed a child.”

My friend looked devastated, her hand even went up to her mouth. “Oh, no!”

“What will happen to you this time?” I asked.

“I will go to jail,” she said.

“Yes, along with the fine and loss of license,” I said. “Now, imagine that while you are in jail, the mother of the child you killed comes to see you. What do you think she will say?”

“She will yell at me,” my friend said. “She will cry!”

“What if she doesn’t yell?” I said, “What if she says, ‘I forgive you. I believe in a God who forgives us for the things we do wrong when we are sorry. I know you are sorry because I saw you crying while you gave your testimony in court. I forgive you.”

My friend looked both relieved and yet, still stressed. “I would be sad because I can’t bring her child back to life.”

“True,” I said. “Would you ever speed again?”

She shook her head, “I would be so careful, forever.”

“So it is with God,” I said. “Because we have a God who forgives us, we DO become better people. Not because we have learned our lesson through punishment and reward, but because we have learned the meaning of love. We obey God because He has forgiven us. We love him and don’t want to ever hurt him again.”

“So,” she realised, “forgive is better than fair.”

“This is the difference between Karma and Jesus,” I explained. “You are right, God is not fair. And I am so glad He isn’t. Jesus forgives us because, as he once said, ‘God is love’.”