The Illusion Of Choices
One of the first Bible verses I learned as a young Christian remains near the forefront of my mind because it captures an essential truth. It is John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Our pluralistic age demands that there be a plethora of options. Thomas de Zengotita published a book some years ago titled, The Blob, in which he described our culture of options. We have 500 television channels. Springsteen’s (1992) “57 Channels (and Nothin On)” seems quaint now. The internet gives us the illusion of being able to tailor our reality and endless selection of exciting new choices.
The Lie: I Am Basically Good
People regularly speak of “my truth” as in “tell your truth” with the implication that there is no objective truth, no objective standard to which we shall have to give an account. Our conscience, however, tells a different story does it not? Late at night, after all the drugs, sex, and rock and roll, when it all wears off, there it is: our conscience. It keeps whispering the truth and we keep trying to suppress it with weed, women, and web but like a beach ball in the water, the truth keeps popping back up: I am a sinful creature. There is a righteous Creator to whom I shall have to give account. When I was an unbeliever I knew that truth. To comfort myself I told myself that, on balance, the good I had done and the good intentions I had would balance out the bad. It was a lie.
It is easy to see that lie for what it is. Let us say that you have been arrested for a crime. You drank too much, became belligerent, and punched the bouncer as he was tossing you out of the bar. You are taken to the drunk tank, arraigned, and sent back to county to await your trial. In court, your court-appointed lawyer argues, “Your honor, my client is basically a good person. We freely admit that he had too much to drink but we are asking the court to take into consideration all the other good things my client has done. He did not mean to hurt the bouncer. We are sorry that he has a fractured orbital bone and wish him a speedy recovery.” All the Saturdays spent at the Neighborhood Boys and Girls girls club do not alter the fact that you voluntarily got drunk (the whiskey did not pour itself down your throat). You lost control. You committed a violent assault on the bouncer, who was just doing his job, keeping the other patrons safe from you. When the bright light is shined on your life, it is not as clean as the story you tell yourself and others. This is the first time you have been arrested but it is not the first time that you have been drunk, disorderly, and dangerous, is it?
All your alleged good deeds do not change the law. It stands like an immoveable rock. It demands satisfaction. It demands punishment. In court, your “options” and “your truth” do not matter, do they? The law is the law. The truth is the truth. Justice is justice. There is not “your justice” and “my justice” just as there is not “your physics” and “my physics.” There is an objective reality. There is a fixed truth.
If that is true of life in this world, and it is, how much more true is it for eternal life? If you think the county judge is strict, you will be very surprised when you find yourself face to face with the living God. There is not “your God” and “my God.” Your conscience is a reflection, a testimony that God is. He is just and you are liable to judgment.
There is a Savior and Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior. He obeyed in the place of sinners. The Apostle Paul says so in Romans 5:12–21. He died as the substitute for sinners. He was raised on the third day. Forty days later he ascended. He lives. He reigns. He is coming again. He is true God and true man. He hears the prayers of needy sinners. Your lawyer argued your weak case before the judge but human lawyers and judges are still sinners themselves. Jesus never sinned. He was raised because he was righteous (1 Tim 3:16). That is why was able to say: “I am the way, the life, and truth. No one comes to Father except through me.” He said it because he is the righteous one. He kept every single law, every single day, for his whole life. He did not have mitigate his crimes. He did not have to plead intention. He was and remains actually, perfectly righteous.
When you trust him he becomes your righteousness, your lawyer. God looks upon you as if you were, in yourself, as righteous as Jesus. It is as if you yourself did all that he did. When he died, he took the penalty for sin for all those who recognize their sins and turn to him in faith, who trust him. Six months of county time is no fun but when you trust Jesus, you are delivered from eternal punishment. On the cross he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) as all of God’s justice and wrath was poured out, once for all, upon him for all those for whom he came to obey and die, for whom he was raised and for whom he is praying now.
Your conscience is telling you the truth. I am telling you the truth. Jesus told you the truth: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). You need a Savior. Jesus is that Savior. It is not too late. Turn to him now while there is still time. He is the only way but the good news is there is a way and he is the way and he is inviting you now.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you for this great word–
I needed to hear (read) this.