Center of the Universe

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

James 3:16

“Picture God in the beginning of creation with a man and woman made in his image,” Carson said. “They wake up in the morning and think about God. They love him truly. They delight to do what he wants; it’s their whole pleasure. They’re rightly related to him and they’re rightly related to each other.

Then, with the entrance of sin and rebellion into the world, these image bearers begin to think that they are at the center of the universe. Not literally, but that’s the way they think. And that’s the way we think. All the things we call ‘social pathologies’-war, rape, bitterness, nurtured envies, secret jealousies, pride, inferiority complexes;-are bound up in the first instance with the fact that we’re not rightly related with God. The consequence is that people get hurt. From God’s perspective, that is shockingly disgusting. So what should God do about it? If he says, ‘Well, I don’t give a rip,’ he’s saying that evil doesn’t matter to him. It’s a bit like saying, “Oh yeah, the Holocaust-I don’t care.” Wouldn’t we be shocked if we thought God didn’t have moral judgments on such matters?

But in principle, if he’s the sort of God who has moral judgments on those matters, he’s got to have moral judgments on this huge matter of all these divine image bearers shaking their puny fists at his face and singing with Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way.’ That’s the real nature of sin.

Having said that, hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes but just didn’t believe the right stuff. They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their Maker and want to be at the center of the universe. Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isn’t gentle enough or good enough to let them out. It’s filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be at the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying rebellion.

What is God to do? If he says it doesn’t matter to him, God is no longer a God to be admired. He’s either amoral or positively creepy. For him to act in any other way in the face of such blatant defiance would be to reduce God himself.” I interjected, “Yes, but what seems to bother people the most is the idea that God will torment people for eternity. That seems vicious, doesn’t it?” Replied Carson, “In the first place, the Bible says that there are different degrees of punishment, so I’m not sure that it’s the same level of intensity for all people. In the second place, if God took his hands off this fallen world so that there were no restraint on human wickedness, we would make hell. Thus if you allow a whole lot of sinners to live somewhere in a confined place where they’re not doing damage to anyone but themselves, what do you get but hell? There’s a sense in which they’re doing it to themselves, and it’s what they want because they still don’t repent.”

I thought Carson was finished with his answer, because he hesitated for a moment. However, he had one more crucial point. “One of the things that the Bible does insist is that in the end not only will justice be done, but justice will be seen to be done, so that every mouth will be stopped.” I grabbed a hold of that last statement. “In other words,” I said, at the time of judgment there is nobody in the world who will walk away from that experience saying that they have been treated unfairly by God. Everyone will recognize the fundamental justice in the way God judges them and the world.” “That’s right,” Carson said firmly. “Justice is not always done in this world; we see that every day. But on the Last Day it will be done for all to see. And no one will be able to complain by saying,’This isn’t fair.”‘

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel, 1998.

Matthew 13:3 A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

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