The Wager

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Not much interesting happened today at school. It was a pretty normal day, except for an exploding juice box. Lana accidentally stepped on a juice box that was on the floor for some reason, and it exploded in a big long line all over the floor. It was pretty cool, actually.

Anyways, every once in a while it hits me just how small I really am. I mean, if you think about it, try to imagine the size of the earth. Think about one of those pictures from space where it looks like a big blue sphere. Now imagine trying to find yourself on that picture – think about just how far you’d have to zoom in to see yourself. It’s crazy if you really think about it – it’s almost beyond our human comprehension. Zoom out even further, and you see our earth as just a marble in a massive solar system…then our tiny solar system in a sea of stars from our Milky Way galaxy. Zooming out even further gives you a massive picture – an incomprehensible universe filled with galaxies stretched out further than the human eye or the most powerful telescope can see – and you are just the tiniest speck, like an atom is in comparison to the earth. I’m not even sure whether that’s a fair comparison, because I cannot comprehend the sheer magnitude of the universe in all its vastness. I can’t even comprehend how massive the earth is, and it’s worthlessly unimportant in the scale of the universe.

Thoughts like this would be likely to envelop me in utter hopelessness if it weren’t for the God that loves even the tiniest specks. Some people prefer to completely ignore these sorts of things. It scares them, and frankly, it scares me too sometimes. It’s much easier to just try to forget how unimportant they are and just try to live out the best life they can – in whatever way “best” means to them. That’d be all fine and dandy if there were no God; I mean, if there’s no overriding purpose to our lives, then who cares what we do? We’re just going to die, and that’s that, so we might as well do whatever we want while we still live. “Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.” (Luke 12:19) That’s what a man in a parable in the Bible said about life. He had everything made, with investments made to last him for as long as he wanted. Guess what God had to say about that? “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

The fact is that if there is a God up there, then it demands much more out of us than an “eat, drink, and be merry” attitude. If we take the assumption that there is a God up there, then that means that a) He created us, therefore b) we were created for a purpose, and therefore c) we need to find out that purpose and live up to it, because d) He will judge us based on how we lived up to the purposes He has for us. If there’s no God, none of this matters, but I’d want to seriously consider the possible consequences when faced with those risks. Because if it turns out there is a God up there and He decides to judge me for what I did, and I’ve gone and wasted my entire life, the results won’t be pretty. People who live for themselves had better be prepared for that possibility.

There are some people who just don’t want to face the reality that perhaps there is Someone greater than them. And because they don’t want to face that reality, they also don’t want to consider the risks of that. They’d much rather just take the easy way out and hope that there isn’t that certain Someone up there. It’s much like gambling, really. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and try to calculate the odds in favour or against the possibility of the existence of a God, but when the risks are that enormous, it’s serious.

There are two possible decisions people make that can lead to two possible outcomes each. The first one is that a person can decide to live for themselves and ignore the fact that there is a God. If it turns out that there is a God, then they’ve definitely lost big time – the penalty for it is eternal death and isolation. It’s not something to be taken lightly, because if there is a God, then what we do in this short life we live will have eternal consequences. And eternity is just as incomprehensible an amount of time as the size of the universe is. On the other hand, if this person lives for themselves and it turns out there is no God, well hey – they hit the jackpot! They got it right, got to live their life however they wanted, and everything’s great! Except for the fact that they’re dead. They’re stuck in a hole in the ground, and that’s that. Life goes on without them, and thousands of years later, their name is absolutely forgotten. Their life on earth was completely meaningless.

The second choice a person can make is to live for God. This life does require a certain standard of living, which, although it doesn’t stifle you from “living”, might require you to give up a few things. If there is a God, they’ve hit it big again – eternal life is theirs, and they get to enjoy for all eternity the fact that they chose right. On the other hand, if it turns out there is no God, then they’ve chosen wrong. But what does it matter? You’ve given up some things that you could have enjoyed, yes, but what’s the big deal? You’re dead. Your life, once again, is meaningless, so whether you gave some stuff up or not doesn’t really matter anyway. Now, the question is, which is the best bet?

When put in its proper perspective, the safest bet is to live in light of the reality of a God. This alone won’t save a person, but it’s a start. The problem is that most people refuse to face the decision in this manner. They’d much rather start from the assumption that there is no God and then go from there to decide how best to live their life for themselves. It’s definitely an understandable perspective, since we as humans are quite selfish. The problem is that it doesn’t get you anywhere. I can live for myself all I want. I could go out and drink, do drugs all I wanted, have rampant sex, and live the “high life.” Or I could even try to leave a legacy for others – I could help others out, start up charitable organizations, and make an impact on the world in that way. But honestly, what does that get me? If there’s no God, then there’s no afterlife, and that means that all that stuff that I did in this life, no matter how significant or fun or enjoyable or anything else, is useless and worthless. It’s like someone giving you money as a gift, and taking it and spending it all on candy, gorging yourself until you can’t eat anymore. It might taste good for a little while. But too much of anything in this world makes it unenjoyable. There are countless people out there who are addicted to drugs that say, “Yeah, I did it because I wanted to at first. It felt good. Now it tells me when it wants to be taken.” Nothing in this world is going to get you anywhere, because without something more to this life, it’s all meaningless.

I know I’m sounding pretty pessimistic right now, but it’s the truth. You can butter it up all you want and make anything in this world look good, but the fact of the matter is that it all gets boring after a while. Once you pursue something, it just fades out and loses its appeal. And many of those things lead to addictions. Money begins to rule you. Pursuing relationships leads to going for person after person after person, until you do it just to “feel good.” Things that seem harmless in themselves, and may very well be, can turn deadly once they are pursued. At first, you go after these things to feel good. You try it once, and it feels amazing. You try it a few more times, and while it feels good, it starts to lose its novelty. The feeling you get when you first tried it out starts to decrease. I mean, it still feels good, but it doesn’t feel as good. It’s the Principle of Diminishing Returns. The more times you try something, the less it feels good. It starts to become more mundane and “normal” rather than something “new and exciting.” Pretty soon, you’re forced to move onto something deeper in order to get that same first feeling you had, or else try to get more of whatever you’re into. It becomes a cycle, in which the feeling fades, but you try even harder to get more and more of it. Pretty soon it’s an addiction. It sounds like I’m talking about drugs, but the truth is that it happens with anything.

Perhaps I’m taking a very negative view of life here. After all, not everything’s evil, right? There are flowers and sunshine in this world, right? Of course. I’m not saying that life can’t be enjoyable. What I’m saying is that there are a lot of people out there right now that find life to be less enjoyable than it used to be, because they’ve started to let things in their life control them rather than them controlling life. Sometimes you feel as free as a feather, but other times it’s a chore just to survive. And the problem is that the more you live life, the more the things that used to be so fresh and exciting begin to fade to the abyss of normalness. The new person you just met and felt the flutter of attraction for begins to descend to a person that you’ve known. It’s always easy to be infatuated with someone you barely know. It’s harder once you start getting to know them and their annoyances. I mean, everyone has them. Everyone has something that gets on people’s nerves. Just look at your family members. You may love them, but there are definitely things about them that get on your nerves, right? You know them like the back of your hand, and they’re just not exciting anymore.

I could continue spouting out examples of this principle in effect, but I’m sure that if you honestly and seriously think about it, you can see it at work in your own life. The joy that comes with life begins to fade as things descend to normal status. The problem is that being “bored” isn’t the only consequence of this principle. As things become mundane, we start to reach out to something fresh and new, or something more powerful than what we have now. And that thing starts to enslave us, bringing with it adverse effects. Just think of money. Money is a good thing in and of itself. With it, we can buy things, like food to keep us alive, and houses to keep us sheltered from the elements. But what happens what we start to pursue money? We can never get enough of it. We start working just to get more of it, even though we no longer have time to enjoy the things we’ve used it to buy. Or we just accumulate it so we can feel good knowing how much money we have. Greed kicks in, and the thing that brought us life now starts to wear on our bodies. Work becomes a habit, and yet we feel that we can’t stop working or we won’t have enough money to survive, even though in reality we have much more than we need. It becomes an addiction, enslaving us.

Of course, there are always those who just don’t want to face this. There are people out there that are determined to ignore this and live their life however they want to. I can’t really stop them from doing that, nor do I really want to. If that’s what they want to do, then that’s their choice. I can’t choose it for them. The problem is that most people choose without really ever considering the options. They’d much rather focus on themselves, since to them, the world revolves around them. In essence, they become their own god. They worship themselves, because they live to please themselves. If there is no God, then it doesn’t matter. However, if there is one, then don’t you think He’s going to be a little bit angered by the fact that we humans have been putting ourselves in His rightful place? Most people don’t think of it that way, but it’s the truth. Of course, this all hinges on whether there is a God or not, but I’ll leave that for another day, and another blog entry instead. I’ve gone on far longer than I planned to, but it’s definitely something to think about. Everyone has a choice to make; are you going to properly examine the options before choosing or just hope for the best?

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