So, I finally watched The Shack last night. I had read the book years ago and thought it was rather creative. There have been a lot of criticism of this book because it doesn’t come right out and say that Jesus is the only way to God, but kind of skirts around the issue. For the unbelieving soul, this may cause some confusion. I get it. Totally understand. But doesn’t there have to be a starting point somewhere?
People find reasons to be offended at just about anything anymore. For centuries, the Christian faith has been the excuse for a lot of offenses but few people have taken the time to really delve into it to find what the truth really is. You have your hardcore Christians on one side who cite the Bible at every turn but have little compassion for those who really need it. You have your opposition on the other side who denounce whatever the Christians say and make a show of compassion through their loud voices in protest and certain efforts (that can be seen publicly) helping others.
But what do we do behind closed doors? What do we say? What do we think? I think The Shack is one example of the internal war we are all fighting, whether we have experienced a tragedy of the magnitude of the book (movie), or if we have gradually allowed our minds to be warped by deception and lies. We are consumed with our own problems and fail to grasp the magnitude of the world’s or even our neighbor’s. We fail to see the love that God has for us because all we can see is the evil all around us.
God gave us the freedom to choose Him. It’s that simple. Perhaps that’s the only thing that could have been included a little more bluntly in the book and movie. God never told us that we wouldn’t experience tragedy, hurt or pain. Actually, Jesus literally told us that if we choose to follow Him, we can count on experiencing hatred from the world. John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
You see, He chose us all from the beginning of time, but He allows us to choose Him. If we choose Him, then we are truly redeemed. If we deny Him, through our actions, our thoughts, our words, our lives, then we are lost. Not because He doesn’t love us, but because we never loved Him.
John 12:44-48 “Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. and if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him, for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” So, the Word that is available all across the world right now, is our guide and also our judge at the end. If we live by the Word, believe in it and receive the Life that it gives, we have been judged and redeemed. If we reject the Word and the Life, then we lose. It’s our choice. Not God’s.
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
There is a thief but he wants us to believe that he doesn’t really exist. Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of people have been fooled already into this trap. If we don’t think there is evil, how can we believe in the good that only comes from Jesus Christ? If we deny the existence of the devil, how can we proclaim the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? We must understand that in order to overcome, we must recognize what it is we need to overcome first and then turn to the only Solution.
But, after all of this, none of it ever changes the love that God feels for each and every one of us. For the saintly grandmother down the street who bakes cookies for the neighborhood. For the ax murderer sitting on death row, proudly defying all authority. For the drug dealers, the homeless, the impoverished, the wealthy, the greedy, the poor, the schoolteachers, the tax collectors, the priests, the farmers, even everyone on Wall Street. There is no one on this earth that God doesn’t love, but He has given us all the choice. And for those who have chosen Him, He has given us all work to do in order to provide everyone on the planet the information they need in order to make that choice.
But, on the other hand, it still would be kind of cool to have a weekend in a shack with God cooking me dinner and having joyful conversation with Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Wait, I can already do that, except I get to cook.
Hope this blesses you in some way.