[Faithful readers, somebody recently asked me to spend at least three hundred words describing what I believe in. This is the very bad first draft of the answer. The final (much shorter and hopefully much better) draft will soon follow, God-willing.]
I believe in God. In the God revealed by the Bible. I believe in the Trinity, that is to say, in a complete, whole and holy Entity which exists in perfect communication. I believe that this God is the only entity which has always existed. Though, “exist” is a sticky word and doesn’t technically line up with my beliefs since “exist” implies a “coming from” something. God hasn’t “come from” anything. Everything has “come from” God.
Part of the “everything” that God has communicated into existence (an accurate use of the word this time) are angels, human beings and the planet Earth (who, for some reason, is the only one of these three who gets to be capitalized). I don’t know a whole lot about angels, but I know that they (like everything else) were created to glorify God. What I mean by this is that they were made to be a bit like prisms which God could shine his perfect completeness into causing the light of who he is to scatter throughout all creation. And I know that one of the angels, the one that was perhaps the biggest prism and refracted the most light decided that, instead of spreading God around, it was maybe time for creation to get a taste of him, without God. He convinced (I’m told) about a third of the other angels to join him in quest to glorify that which is not God.
We have been getting a taste of Lucifer (and those with him) without God for the past six thousand years or so (or however long it’s been since he convinced us to turn our backs on God in the Garden in which man was born). He now hates God and his light and has set himself against anyone who seeks to serve that light, that is anyone who seeks to do that which he was doing before his rebellion. God, being the gentleman he is, has prepared a place for this darkened prism, a place without God since that seems to be the angel’s preference. The place is called Hell, and it is the only place that is completely void of God’s presence. Everyone who enters eternity with a desire to be void of God will go there.
I suppose that some words about Hell’s opposite are in order. If Hell is the total absence of God then Heaven is it’s opposite in that it is the pure presence of God. One thing that keeps Hell and Heaven from being total opposites is that Hell depends on Heaven’s existence whereas Heaven is completely independent of Hell. Hell is dependent in the same sense that a man who takes pride in living outside a certain city is dependent on having a city to be living outside of. Without the city he just lives, which seems like a good thing to me, but for those who choose Hell it is not enough to merely live, they must live apart from something (this is why I fear America’s emphasis on being independent, I fear we are raising a legion of Milton’s-Satan types who would rather reign outside the city then serve anywhere).
So here we are presented with two Kingdoms. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of That-Which-Is-Not-God. Inside the city walls and outside the walls. True independence and false independence. Obedience, service to the King (for every kingdom must have a king), or rebellion. Mankind was originally created in God’s Kingdom, in communication with the Trinity. God created Adam and Eve to be representatives for mankind, which is another way of saying that whatever they did we would’ve done the same had we been in their shoes, and gave them a choice: To dwell in his Kingdom, obey him and receive life from him, or to try to make it on their own. Our parents, under the influence of a fallen Lucifer, fell in favor of the latter.
This is where you and I and rest of mankind come into the picture. Our parents decided to dwell outside the city, thus we, their children, were all born outside the city. God said to Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they disobeyed him. This makes sense if we think of disobedience as a kind of turning away. In a way Adam and Eve cut off communication with (turned their back on) their Creator, and since we were designed to live on communication with our Creator, just as a car is designed to run on gasoline, it makes sense that rebellion in this case is described as death. So Adam and Eve were led by Satan (but of their own will) into death, and this is were they birthed all of us.
So now a whole race of walking breathing contradictions exists: A people who feel that somehow this world, this planet is somehow very much their home and someplace from which they can derive comfort companionship and yet, at the same time, feel it very hostile and very broken. We’ve strayed the realm of poets.
So we see that (because of the choice of Adam and Eve) people arrive in this world opposed to the one who gives them life. In other words, we all arrive dead, stillborn.
Who will bring us life? It must be someone who himself is alive, so it can’t be another human, yet humans are the ones who erred, so a human must take on the promised penalty of death. Eternal death, a God-sized penalty.
And now we come of course the most well-known part of this whole story. The part where - and I cannot say this part without worshipping my beautifully creative God - the second person of the Trinity, in order to rescue us from the wilderness of our exile and rebellion, became a human and, after living among us, living in time and skin and loneliness and laughter and tears, dust and sweat, this God-who-was-man shouldered our debt of death, and brought life to those who would grab hold of him. He came out of God’s city, into our wilderness, and compels us to follow him.
I am one of those who has been brought to life, who has grabbed hold of this savior for dear life. Though, God knows, sometimes my embrace is more out of anger or fear than anything else. But I can’t let go, even if I want to. For one thing, he’s also holding me, and (I’m told) he always will, for another no matter how hard, or how foolish or how exhausting (like a candle going out) it is to be with this One, this Love of mine, no matter how much I hate it at times. I could never leave him. He contains all life; there is no life outside of him. I am a failure, a failure of epic proportions, but he is the ultimate success. And he has given me his name, and I (in his Father’s eyes, which, unlike mine, see the Truth fully) have become like him, and this is something worth thinking about.