Well, Kids, it’s not quite as simple a matter as believing, or not believing, in Santa Claus - or in Peter Pan, or the Easter Bunny. If Santa Claus should actually exist, but we chose not to believe in him, there wouldn’t be any dire consequences for our error.” My kids looked at me as if I just didn’t know! “Not really,” I prodded them, rolling my eyes with a little dramatic sarcasm. They understood of course: after all, “presents or no presents” wasn’t a matter that would end the world! I returned to a serious tone: “But, with God it’s altogether a different matter - whether we believe in Him or not.” I had their attention.
“Let me ask you two this: If you were a sculptor or a painter, and worked long months painstakingly producing what became a very beautiful work of art, would you like it if another person claimed that it was actually his work? Hmmmm… Or, let’s say that you designed a very complex machine, or an innovative new type of airplane, how would you feel if someone stole your blueprints before you had a chance to get them patented – so that it wouldn’t be you who got the credit, nor the money, for your invention?” Their quietness, and their frowns, told me that they were doing some considering.
I added an illustration a little closer to home. “Or what if you had really put some heavy-duty time and effort into studying for a test in school, and it paid off: Your grade on the final exam was a splendid 100%! Yeah! What would you think of an irresponsible, unprepared classmate’s being able to convince the teacher that the test paper was actually his, not yours?” The kids were appalled, their mouths gaped and their noses wrinkled in disgust.
“No, I didn’t think you’d like it!”
“Now personally, I wholeheartedly doubt that any of us could be honestly convinced, at our cores, that we created ourselves!” I could tell they didn’t swallow that obvious fallacy either. “So, IF God created us, if we are indeed His workmanship (in fact, what He considers the masterpiece of all He has created), how do you think He feels when we defiantly say that He did not create us? If we spout off like an impudent child, ‘It’s not yours – it’s mine!’ do we presume that God ought to wink at our ‘cute little antics’ like some doting grandfathers (who act like their little darlings can do no wrong)?” I paused as they pictured in their minds the preposterous image. The kids were silent, but their eyes and ears were wide open.
“So, back to believing in Santa Claus, or in Peter Pan. If a person does believe in them or he doesn’t believe, no big deal, right?” We all smiled, knowing that, one way or the other, that wasn’t going to be life-threatening or anything like that. “But, let’s look more closely at the difference when it comes to the matter of believing in God or not.”
“First of all, if indeed He did create us, then just as the painting belongs to the painter, we, the created, belong to our Creator. That belonging, and that possession, implies rights on the part of the Maker over what He made. The artist can do what he wants to with his own painting, can’t he?” They both nodded their heads at the statement of the obvious.
“Now here’s where we get down to the nitty-gritty, kids, regarding this matter of what we believe about God. (And, by the way, it’s where all the big trouble began – that is, the entire human race losing its direction. But, that’s for another discussion, another day.) You see, my children, we human beings don’t like someone else having rights over us, telling us what we can or can’t do, and all that sort of thing. Have you ever noticed that?” They grinned rather mischievously.
I continued, “The whole concept of having to answer to a ‘boss’, or master or owner, is extremely distasteful to all of mankind at the very roots of our nature. Deep down inside we don’t want to be accountable to God. That is our core dilemma. We want to own ourselves, so that we can be our own boss – and don’t have to answer to anyone else. We desperately attempt to reason out some way to get around the idea of accountability to God.”
I could tell that they were pondering all this, but also growing a little tired. Before the depth of the very real significance of this matter might overwhelm their young minds, I decided to try to insert just one more illustration for them to mull over during the next week.
I took their attention back once more to the matter of believing in God or not, to reiterate again that grasping the seriousness of this choice was very far removed from the innocuous situation of whether or not we choose to believe in the Easter Bunny, or fairy tales, or such.
“Keeping in mind the inescapable reality of at least the possibility of this issue of accountability, let’s look at four scenarios, my dear ones. I drew four stick figures on a piece of paper. Four different cases, okay?
Man Number 1: He believed in God. So, he tried to live in such a way that corresponded to a sense of accountability to Him. But, at the end of his life, he found out that there was no God, after all. No harm done, really, by believing as he had. Since there are no consequences in the nature of loss or punishment for the fellow, he’s ‘okay’.
Man Number 2: He also believed in God, and because he did, he daily tried to live in a way that pleased his Creator. When he died, this man discovered that, sure enough, God does exist! He chose to live accountably, and it turned out that he made the right choice! So he, too, is ‘okay’- better than ‘okay’, I’d venture to say!
Man Number 3: This guy did not believe in God, so being convinced that he had no one to answer to but himself, he lived any way he wanted to. After breathing his last breath, lo and behold, that was it. Nothing more. God did not exist, after all, so nothing was required of him. So in a sense, the way he lived his life could be said to have been ‘okay’.
Man Number 4: This last man also did not believe in God, and therefore he lived his life without any sense of accountability to anyone, feeling that he was basically a law unto himself. As we all do sooner or later, he died. And this confident man had the rudest of all possible rude awakenings! God did indeed exist, and he was indeed accountable to Him! The proud, self-confident man was not prepared for that. ‘Whoops!”- big time! His position in the face of that revelation was far from ‘okay’!
In truth, my children, only these four possibilities exist regarding a most critical subject. And every single human being who has ever existed chooses one or the other of these two points-of-view: to either believe - or not to believe - that he or she is accountable to God. Do you see, then, that there is an immeasurably huge risk to choosing not to believe in God?! Maybe, just maybe, taking that stand is not worth it…