I asked Meredith who she voted for. She replied, "Marack Obana," which I thought was a pretty good facsimile of the candidate's name for a six-year old. I then asked why she voted for him. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I know it wasn't, "Because his economic policies will ensure future economic security," or "I really like his stance on Afghanistan." But her answer still caught me off guard. In her sweet little voice, she declared very seriously, "He had the best smile." I thought about it for a minute and had to agree with her. If the choice of presidents was based upon the relative smiles of the candidates, Obama would be pretty hard to beat. The guy had a great smile.
And as I thought about it, I realized that her comment was actually pretty insightful. A lot of people would likely vote for Obama because he was more youthful, better-looking and simply projected better than his rival. In America, many people consistently vote based upon what is referred to as the "party line." If we view ourselves as Republicans, we tend to vote for Republicans. And we tend to forumulate our opinions about things based upon what the news folks tell us, good or bad and depending upon how our political views jive with theirs. In other words, we make decisions based upon someone else's opinion, rather than digging in and doing the research ourselves. We vote, a very important decision, based upon unmeaningful criteria.
If you voted in the 2008 election, think about it. Did you research either candidate's congressional records? Did you review any of their writings, speeches or other materials which could reveal their consistency on issues? Did you develop your opinion based upon any firsthand, direct information? I'll confess that I didn't. I'll further confess that my mind was pretty much made up long before the election, simply based upon my own preconceived notions.
And of course, we know what happens when we make decisions this way. We can make bad decisions. We shortchange ourselves. And often, we later regret those decisions.
Which brings me to the point. And it's an entirely different point, but it stems from making a decision without having all the facts. Or making a decision, based upon someone else's opinion. I'm talking about making a decision about God.
Certainly, you may not at this moment feel compelled to make any decision about God. Your life is pretty good. You don't see anything problematic on the horizon. So, why not just keep cruising along in life as you are? The issue is that, sooner or later, we are all faced with either a crisis in this life that cannot be resolved by natural means. Maybe it's that call from the doctor's office with the biopsy results. Maybe it's the loss of a job, or worse, a loved one. But eventually, something will happen to you that will force you to face the fact that you only have so many years on this planet. And once you do, you have to decide whether there is anything after. Do you simply die and that's it? Or does something else happen.
A decision not to decide is a decision in and of itself. And a lot of people make a default decision about God. They decide by default that God isn't really in control of things. They come to believe that God didn't really create the heavens, the earth or mankind. They aren't really athiests, but they don't really want to believe in the God of the Bible.
The problem is that they make this decision without really understanding the source document itself. The make a decision, based upon what they've heard from others. Sort of like Meredith, they voted based upon a criteria that at least to an adult, didn't mean very much. And like many adults, they decided without digging in and formulating their own opinion. They didn't actually read the Book itself.
The Bible puts forth God's story. For now, if it makes you feel better, let's refer to it a "theory" of who God is and what He wants from us. There are several central components to this theory. The first component is that God created everything. The second is that God created mankind as a loving act. The third is that He sought to have a relationship with mankind, but mankind rebelled against its Creator. And the final chapter describes how God remedied this rift once and for all. It's a pretty fantastic finale- God sends His Son, in human form, to teach mankind about Him and ultimately to pay a price so that mankind could have a relationship with Him forever.
If you've made a reasonable effort to read the Bible and compared it's characterization of God with your own life, and concluded that it is a book of fables, then so be it (I'm talking about beginning with Genesis and reading it all the way through to Revelations). I applaud your initiative and respect your conclusion. You came to this conclusion based upon the facts and derived your opinion about the Bible's validity based upon those facts. You are entitled to your opinion.
But if you have come to a conclusion about God without an earnest effort to read the Bible, I would respectfully suggest that you reconsider. If the Bible is accurate, it describes an eternal and everlasting consequence of your conclusion. For that reason alone, it's worth careful consideration. And if the Bible isn't accurate, then the most you've lost is your investment of time to read it.
I have to agree that "Marack" has a great smile. And if I were six, I'd likely vote for him on that basis alone. But I'm not six and I owe it to myself, my family and my country to vote for him, or someone else, for reasons beyond his apparently excellent dental hygiene. Instead, I need make an informed decision. Similarly, when it comes to deciding who God is, my decision should be based upon more than a superficial understanding, without having invested any time in the literature that purports to explain it.