Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Ideological Confession... #1

One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life. I love the way that they tell stories. Occasionally, they invite the reporters from NPR's Planet Money blog/podcast to attempt to explain economics issues in plain English.

And in a recent episode, they did just that. The episode was called The New Boss. And they told three stories about being or having a new boss. The third story is the one that inspired me to write this post. In it, the planet money guys come in and explain the current $15 trillion wager that is taking place in our economy. Basically they describe two major schools of macro-economic thought: the Keynesians (who subscribe to the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes) and the non-Keynesians.

Remember: I'm not an economist. My thoughts on economics are probably (at best) no better than randomly correct. Or could be, at worst, systematically biased towards wrong. I think I have a slightly better understanding than average. But then again, I used to think that someday I'd be a superhero. My point: I don't know enough of what I'm talking about.

But that doesn't keep me from pretending to be an economist on this blog, and as such, I'm decidedly non-Keynesian. And the economic stimulus package is decidedly Keynesian. So we're in a period of time right now in which a fantastic experiment is taking place. As Russ Roberts puts it, after all is said and done, we're going to have learned something. And it leaves me in a funny position: I don't know what to root for.

The economic stimulus package is either going to work or fail to stimulate the economy out of this recession. And because it's a Keynesian solution, it's either going to validate or invalidate Keynes' theory. So which side to root for?

If I root for the stimulus package to succeed, that means we come out of this recession sooner. Fewer people suffer the impacts of a bad economy. And, as I've argued previously, economic impacts are frequently as deadly, if not more, than anything else that we do. Poverty kills. And for those who survive, it still causes massive suffering. Poverty is the enemy. Getting us out of a recession saves lives and alleviates human suffering. It's important.

But if I root for the stimulus package, I'm also rooting for Keynesianism. And this is also no trivial thing. Yes, it means that I have to change my ideological mindset. Fine. But it also means that there are times in which it makes sense sacrifice individual freedom to the government. It means that there's a case to be made in which the government *should* forcibly require it's citizenry to work, and have the product of that work be given to someone else. In other words, rooting for the stimulus package means championing a theory which holds that slavery is ok.

My confession: I'm hoping, just a little bit, that the stimulus package fails. But just a little bit. I'm open to being convinced otherwise. Mainly because I don't like the idea that the failure of the stimulus package will also mean an extended recession.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Re 4: What I believe

Niffer responded again.
I do not think that Christians are entirely crazy, including Jesus being the only way.

I think the ironic thing, though, is that there really isn't a way for anyone to know for sure. You have to wait until you're dead before you know which religion or belief is right. Until then, you have to depend on your faith and whatever makes sense to you personally. And both of these things differ from person to person. Someone is right.
Yes. And that means someone is also wrong. Of course, I don't want to be on the wrong side. And I don't know for sure that I'm on the right side. I *could* be wrong. But I don't think I am, because as I've mentioned, I don't understand how in all the other religions we have to look for God. We're the ones in control of finding him. Christianity is the only one that turns that around. And because of that I think it's the one that makes the most sense.
I do have another thing to mention in light of the "Jesus is the only way"... Whenever I read that, I interpret it differently than I know my religious family members do. My family members believe that the way to Heaven is to accept Jesus as your personal savior. I interpret it as "being more like Jesus is the only way to Heaven." Now, you could argue that accepting Jesus as your savior instills the desire to be more like him, but I would argue that is not the case for some of my family members. I would also argue that it is possible to be more like Jesus without believing he is one's personal savior. I'm not sure if I'm making sense. I guess I'm just trying to say that I interpret "Jesus is the only way" as "trying to be more like Jesus is the only way" and not "accept him as a savior is the only way."
Unfortunately, I don't think that "being more like Jesus" is the way. I think you got it right when you say that it's the result. But it's not the way to be found by God. If being more like Jesus is the way to God, then that's just another way of saying, that we can bridge the gap between God and ourselves on our own. I don't think we can. I find it difficult to make sense of a religion that assumes that lowly humans are in the driver's seat of relationship with God. I think God's in the driver's seat and the way he made for us was through Jesus.

Re: your family members, I don't know what to tell you. One of the things that the Bible says is that at judgment, some of us who think we're saved will be surprised because of how we treated others. We will have convinced ourselves that we had turned back to God, but when we didn't actually change at all, it was like we had no relationship with him in the first place. That thought petrifies me. I sometimes fear that I'm in that group. And that's when it's time for me to ask God to forgive me, again, for all the times I did in fact lurk into that group. And to ask him to keep working on me, in spite of myself.

So it's possible that your family members are in that group. Or it's possible that it's hard for you to see the changes that you'd expect to see. The Bible requires us to turn away from our old life. This act of turning away is called repentance. C.S. Lewis gives a good example of why it's often difficult for us to determine who has or has not repented. In his example, he describes the life of someone who grew up in a cruel family, subject to psychological and physical abuse throughout their entire childhood. That person has a set of baggage on his life that makes it more difficult for him to show the world what's in his heart. Lewis then suggests that it may be a bigger act of repentance for that person to show a single act of kindness and gentleness to another human being, than it might be for me to dedicate my entire life in service to the poor.

The point is that we don't know who has responded to Jesus and who hasn't. We judge with human eyes, and human standards. So maybe your family members aren't behaving the way you'd like them to. But maybe they're far better off then they would be without God. Or maybe they're deluding themselves. There's no way for you or me to know. We do not have a view into the hearts of another. But God does. And he's just. And he'll make the right call.

But even more difficult than that is this: sometimes I'm even confused about myself and whether or not I'm responding to Jesus. My response to that is to ask God to point out where I'm failing. That he make it obvious to me.

If I leave you with the impression that Christianity is easier than the other religions, I'm sorry about that. I don't think it is. It's just the one that makes the most sense to me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I've tried writing this post a number of times. It's hard. I can't figure out how to accurately compress the information that I want to express. So all I'm going to do is provide my notes. I could probably make a blog post out of each of these points. (Did I mention that I'm wordy?)

What's prompting this post is blog written by James Emery White. This was written a couple of months ago. But I'm reminded of it because of a different blog talking about Twitter, that a friend shared with me. Both of these blogs talk about how our culture is becoming more and more narcissistic, either as a result of, or aided by tools like Twitter, facebook, MySpace, iPod, YouTube, etc. I'm skeptical, and I think that it simply may be a misunderstanding of what these tools can do and what they represent.

Anyway here are my notes:
  1. The Wisdom of Crowds: a small amount of participation by many people can produce something bigger than the sum of the parts.

  2. Technologies are not good or bad, they just carry potential. It’s who uses them and how they’re used that make them good or bad.

  3. Social Networking, Open Source Software, markets, and iPods: what do they have in common? They morph the direction of communication. From top down, to bottom up. From edicts to conversations.
  1. iPods take advantage of the long tail. Making it easier for lesser known musicians, broadcasters, ranters to participate. Distribution of music, news or podcasts no longer requires huge amounts of capital. It’s cheap. Wide availability of iPods (and other portable audio devices) makes this possible.

  2. Social Networking: building on the wisdom of the crowds, I connect to Loreann because I know she’s my cousin. Elsa connects to Loreann because she knows her cousin. But I didn’t know about Elsa until we were both connected to Loreann. These relationships don’t get built from top down; they get built from bottom up. Imagine what it would be like if we could leverage social networks to find those who are desperate to find Christ but don’t know it until the right connections are in place.

  3. Open Source: millions of people contributing a small amount can compete with a behemoth. What if that’s the best way to compete against satan?
  1. You, My & I in all of those products are not invitations to narcissism. They’re invitations to participation. And that participation is highly prized. People are flocking to it because they can build community.

  2. The building is not the church. The building is simply a technology. The church is people. Currently the church likes to use buildings as one technology to build community with Christ and invite others to that community. But social networks are a technology, too. The church should use them to invite others into that community.
    1. What would open source Christianity look like? Could each of us, contributing a small amount, united in Christ, hold back Satan until Christ returns to defeat him?

    2. What would Christian Social Networking look like? Are there people out there who are desperate to find Christ but don’t know it until the right connections are in place?

    3. What would iGod look like? How can we take advantage of the long tail of Christians who have thoughts, ideas and stories. Any one of which might be exactly what one person needs to be convinced for Christ?

    4. I don’t know the answer. But I’m certain that we now have the tools available to begin to ask the question. And if we can get enough initial participation, how big of an impact could this make? Isn’t it worth a try to find out?
My conclusion: if all you see in those tools is narcissism, I think you’re missing a fantastic opportunity to expand how the church can reach others for Christ.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Love Language

My friend posted this. I took the quiz, too. Not surprising to me.

I feel loved when...

The Five Love Languages

My Primary Love Language is Physical Touch

My Detailed Results:
Physical Touch: 11
Quality Time: 8
Acts of Service: 5
Words of Affirmation: 4
Receiving Gifts: 2

About this quiz

Unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. It can be helpful to know what language you speak and what language those around you speak.

Tag 3 people so they can find out what their love language is.

Take the Quiz!
Check out the Book

Friday, February 13, 2009


I just listened to another Intelligence Squared debate. This one was on the proposition Let's stop welcoming undocumented immigrants. I have previously mentioned my particular bent on this topic. In general, I find myself fairly conservative, but on this topic I find myself at great odds with most conservatives. I simply don’t understand the full logic by which it makes sense to impose immigration restrictions. Honestly, if asked to play the role of a conservative and make their argument for them, I couldn’t do it. There are only a few points that are made that I understand. But these points are, in my opinion, grossly insufficient to justify the stance.

Here are the points that I understand:
  1. Illegal immigrants consume services that are funded by taxes, without paying taxes into that system.
  2. Illegal immigrants provide competition with Americans for low paying jobs.
  3. Illegal immigrants represent a security threat to the US.
  4. Illegal immigrants are breaking the law.
UPDATE: I disagree with all of these positions While I agree that all of these positions are true, I disagree that they are sufficient to decide the issue, as I will describe below. First I wish to state my own logic for supporting a dramatic loosening of immigration laws. I have only two points:
  1. Immigration is constitutionally guaranteed
  2. Immigration is economically literate beneficial
First, the US declaration of independence describes rights as “endowed by our creator”. In other words, rights are those things that are inherent to people. They are not a thing granted by the government. Among the constitutionally enumerates rights is the right to free peaceable assembly. According to the founding documents of our country, restricting movement for the purpose of peaceable assembly is not something that the government can do. Moreover, it is specifically instructed to protect that right within the borders of the US. When a Mexican (or German or Ugandan) comes to this country to work, why is it suddenly ok to restrict that person’s inherent right to peaceably assemble with those who wish to employ him? I do not see any moral authority that enables us to impose restrictions on anyone who wishes to peaceably come here.

Second from an economic perspective, restriction of trade usually makes all parties to the restriction poorer. This is true if the trade is goods being traded and a high tax applied to them, or if the trade is services. Coming to this country to work is trade. Imposing restrictions on immigration is the exact same thing as imposing restrictions on trade. If you understand the benefits of free trade, then I see no way to imply that those same benefits don’t also apply to trade with Mexicans. Artificially restricting that trade serves no purpose other than to do us harm by making us poorer.

Now let me respond to the points that I understand from the conservative argument.

First, that illegal immigrants consume taxpayer services without themselves paying taxes is true. But this is an indictment of fiscal policy more than of immigration policy. Those services were specifically set up to serve those who couldn’t afford to pay for them. We have public education I this country for the purpose of ensuring that everyone, including those who can’t afford it, can get an education. We have Medicaid to ensure the indigent get medical attention when they need it. A huge number of American born citizens simply are exempt from taxes due to their income level. This, correctly, does not qualify them for deportation. What it indicates is that a system designed to provide services, for free, to people will attract more people to it, including immigrants. I think a safety net is a rational thing. But when people (regardless of their national origin) start trying to live there, the safety net may be a bit too comfortable. The purpose of a safety net is to prevent catastrophe, not provide a safe place to live forever. Our “safety nets” come fully furnished and plumbed. And as a result, they attract people to them. Should this at all be a surprise? That immigrants are living for free off of taxpayers is an indictment of the policies that support that, not enforcement of immigration law.

Second, it is also true that illegal immigrants compete with Americans for jobs. But all jobs face competition. All business faces competition. And that’s good. Because competition is the tool that has raised our standard of living well past that of every other nation on the planet. Restricting competition, at any level, is foolish. In the debate that I listened to, one of the panelists mentioned that if immigrants were competing with high dollar jobs, there would already be laws in place to restrict it. And he’s (unfortunately) right. Physicians and lawyers, and many other professions have licensure laws that restrict the supply of workers and thus raise wages. I find that to be equally harmful. Trade should be free. Immigrants provide competition for jobs. Yep. Welcome to the world. It’s takes a lot of effort trying to prevent something that occurs naturally. We might as well pass a law forbidding the sun from dieing on a couple of billion years.

Third, illegal immigrants most certainly can provide a security threat to the US. And for those who wish to come here with non-peaceable goals in mind, I am fully in support of restricting their entry. The constitution provides for peaceable assembly. It does not proscribe any requirement to protect the assembly of those who wish to do us harm. If immigration policy were exclusively focused on that standard, then I would have no qualms with enforcing it. But immigration policy is, instead, trying to enforce things that are unenforceable. And even if they were enforceable, they hurt us when they’re enforced.

Fourth, it’s true that illegal immigrants are breaking the law. But when a law violates our core principles and, in practice, does us harm, then that law is a bad law and has no moral authority. Such laws should be abolished. And while I can’t condone the violation of the law, the violation of laws without moral authority carries significantly less moral gravity as the violation of other laws.

In summary, I simply am unconvinced by what I understand as the conservative argument in favor of imposing restrictions on immigration. Perhaps there is some part of the argument that I’m missing?

Update 4/20/09: I presented this argument to one of my conservative friends. He commented that he doesn't think that the process for coming to this country should be the same as getting citizenship. He is, of course, scared that if citizenship becomes too easy, then immigrants will be seen by politicians as a voting block.

I think it's reasonable to be stricter on the requirements of being a citizen. But I think it's wrong to restrict people from coming. living, and working here, even if they're not citizens.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A River of Supply

By way of Flowing Data, I discovered the following series of videos put out by the BBC. I'm including my favorite here.

When I watch this, what I see is an unbelievable dance. One that has no master choreographer, no planner, no commander. What I see is people who want food, expressing that want through willingness to pay, and working with people who are willing to provide. And the people who are willing to provide are in competition with each other, so they each try to figure out how to outdo their rivals in delivering more food cheaper. And this is what emerges.

It is amazing to me how much we take for granted the unbelievable complexity of the world that we live in that is governed by no more than people trying to exchange what they have for what they want.

There are other visualizations at this web site. But the above was my favorite.

Re 3: What I Believe

Continuing the discussion, Niffer says:
The fact that you listed "I like to debate" as one of your 25 things about yourself should have warned me about this. LOL.
First things first: I am *not* trying to debate you. You are welcome to believe whatever you want. My only purpose for this discussion is to tell you why I believe what I believe. And perhaps to provide a better perspective of Christianity than the one you had when we started this discussion. I'm not trying to convince you to take that perspective as your own. That's entirely up to you.

That being said, I am trying to persuade you of one thing: that it's not entirely crazy for Christians to believe what we do. Even the part that says Jesus is the only way. I'm *not* asking you to believe this. Just that it's possible to be true.
In a pathetic attempt to continue with your analogy, I will comment on providing you with a rocket to go to the moon...
Yeah, there comes a point in any analogy where it breaks down. All I was trying to say is that for some questions there is only one answer. For example, 2+2 = ? There's only one answer for that. You might prefer the answer to be 5 or 3.1459 or Ice Cream or whatever... but 4 is the only one that's correct. The analogy of the rocket breaks down after a while. For example, it becomes false if we ever invent Star Trek like transporter technology.

I'm of the opinion that our relationship with God is much more like the math problem than the transportation problem, in that there is one answer only. And that's the answer for now and for always. God is different from us and apart from us in a way that makes it impossible, no matter how creative we get, for us to find him on our own. He *must* be involved. In fact, he's got to do most of the work. We simply don't know enough about where we are in relation to him that we can ever navigate our way out of it.

Using another analogy, it's kinda like asking a slug to operate a computer. The slug is just not equipped for doing that, no matter how hard it tries. Not only does it not have fingers. But it doesn't really have good enough eyes to see with. Nor does it have a brain large enough to comprehend what a computer is other than a surface. Asking a slug to operate a computer is outside of the slug's capabilities. Similarly, I think that asking a human to find God, without God, is outside of our capabilities. Christianity is the only major world religion that says this. Every other one thinks that we find God by what we do. I think that God's just too different from us for that to be true.

(*) Remember that this is just an analogy. Over time, slugs could evolve to use computers. That is not my point. My point is that God is beyond the ability of evolution to replicate. So no amount of evolution or time or whatever would ever help us to find God. He's just too different from us. We need him to come and get us.
Of course, I say all this with the word "you" being in general, and not aimed at YOU MJH.
Of course.
I bet there are some good books out there. I should look into that.
The book that I would recommend to you is called "Letters From a Skeptic", by Greg Boyd. If you were someone I knew in person and we were talking over the cube wall or the backyard fence, I'd buy the book and give it to you. It presents the case for Christianity. So it may not be as ecumenical as you'd prefer. But it's a good book. Another one that I would recommend is "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. I re-read that book every couple of years. Lewis has a writing style that uses a lot of different idioms. Some find him difficult to read. But, save for one part, I love the book.
Heck, it took me all day just to type out my response, and it still came out sounding silly to me. Oh well.
That is the only silly thing that I read.

Update: I forgot to comment on this:
But there exists people who just aren't that kind-hearted. They don't respect the human race, as a whole, and thus they aren't interested in taking a shuttle, staircase, space elevator, or even dreaming about the moon.

If you don't have respect for life and those around you, then I see no reason for you to continue to be in their presence, whether that be here on Earth or in Heaven, or even in this life or the next.
I absolutely agree that there are people who simply do not care at all that God is looking for them. That doesn't keep God from loving them any less and hoping for their return. Once God has found us, He begins to work on us. And once he's begun, he'll be faithful to complete what he's started. That work changes us into the kind of creature that he intended when he made us.

So, yes there are people who are mean, and self-centered. And many of them are Christians. The only difference is those who are allowing God to fix what's broken in them, and thus are getting better bit by bit, and those who are not allowing God to fix them, and thus are getting worse bit by bit. In both cases, bit by bit can be really fast or really slow. So don't be surprised if you see good behavior from non-Christians or bad behavior from Christians. We're on the same sea. But we have different starting points and we're pointed in different directions.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Re: What I Believe

Niffer responded to my previous post in comments on my blog and hers. I'm going to respond here with a new blog post. She says:
In the end, most religions ... share the same basic principles. Live and let live. Don't judge. Do unto others as you would want done to you. Help those less fortunate than yourself. Do not get greedy.
At a very basic level, I agree with you. Most major religions do have a fairly large amount in common. And the examples that you gave are perfect. However, the commonality can only go so far. At some point it becomes impossible for compatibility between different faiths. Here's a simple example: Christianity, Judaism and Islam say that there is only one God. Hinduism says that there are many. There are two possibilities here: either one side is true and the other is not, or both sides are false. It's really difficult to say that both sides are true, since they are saying conflicting things.

Which brings me to one of the biggest differences in Christianity from every other major religion out there. It's the reason that I think that Christianity is true, despite the bad behavior of some of its participants. That single difference is the concept of grace. Let me see if I can explain grace to you by telling a story.

Imagine that you lived on the moon. And you send me an email: Hey, MJH, come visit me on the moon. I've sent a rocket to the park near your house so that you can come visit. All you gotta do is get on the rocket, and I'll take care of the rest.

My reaction might be: that rocket seems like a silly way to travel. There's got to be a better way. And so I write an email back to you that says: Hey Niffer! I'd love to come see you, but I think the rocket doesn't make any sense. I'm going to try a car. I mean it has a lot in common with a rocket. It has seats. And windows. And it's used for transportation. I'm going to give it a try because, you know, it's a *LOT* more fuel efficient. Besides I own a car. And by taking the car, I get to drive. I'm going to head towards New York and see if that gets me any closer to you. Thanks for the rocket, but I'm going to try my way. And then I drive off to New York.

You send me back an email: No, MJH, that won't work. You can't get to the moon in a car. And you can't get any closer to me by going to New York. The only way is to get here is on board the rocket that I sent you. I'll move it to Central Park in NYC. When you get there, get on the rocket and it'll take you right to me.

Now, I could try driving all over the place. I might even try boats, and airplanes. All of which are great modes of travel. But they are simply not suited for the job of getting me to the moon. At some point, you might say to me: MJH, I realize that you don't know how to get to me. But I know where I am. And I know how to get there. Considering where I live (the moon) don't you think I'd make arrangements for you to get to me? Why do you think I'd leave the transport entirely up to you?

I think that this is the relationship that God has with us. He has made the way for us to get to him. And that way is grace: Jesus coming and dieing so that we can be turned back to God. There are tons of other religions, that have lots in common with Christianity. But in every other one, you get to God by the stuff that *you* do. And in every other religion, you are bombarded by the feeling of not having done enough. In Christianity, you don't have to figure out how to get to God. It's not about what you do. It's about what's been done for you. You could, for example, become a Christian and be assured of finding God in 2 minutes. There is no other religion that can say that.

Frankly, Chrsitianity is the only faith that makes sense to me. God is so different than me. He's apart from me. It makes sense to me that *he* will come to me. He will bring me to him. Not the other way around.

So yes, there are similarities between religions. But there are also important differences. And the one difference that separates Christianity from the rest, is the one that makes the most sense to me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What I Believe

In my previous post, I encouraged Niffer to write a similar list of 25 things. She did. Here's one of the things she wrote:
9. I wouldn't consider myself very religious but I do believe in God and Heaven, but I believe that there are many ways to get there. I find it hard to imagine that a loving God would condemn an entire group of good people for believing the wrong thing
Someone outside of the Christian faith would describe me as an Evangelical Born-Again Christian. I chafe at that description because of all the unpleasant connotations that accompany it. But I am one, and I'd like to explain what we mean when we talk about God, Heaven, Jesus & Hell.

I, too, find it hard to imagine a loving God condemning good people to an eternity in Hell for believing the wrong things. Frankly, I find it hard to imagine condemning the worst of the worst to an eternity of damnation. I think that Hitler, for example, deserves a couple of centuries of suffering. But eternity? Really? It’s something I can’t get my head around. When I think about things like that, it is so horrible that I have to think about something else… even for Hitler. Frankly, it’s more comfortable to me to think about the condemned just ceasing to exist, than to think about an eternity spent in torment - a torment that is worse than the worst thing I can imagine.

So, it comforts me that God doesn’t do this. That’s right, God does not condemn us to eternal damnation. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that God is doing everything in his power to prevent that. He knows, better than me or any of us, what it means. And he has pulled out every possible stop to prevent it from happening. Jesus described it like a shepherd who stops at nothing to find his lost sheep. But I think of him more like a distraught parent whose child has gone missing.

A couple of years ago, I got a call from my wife. She was at the local amusement / water park with our 4 children. She called me, and it was clear that she was trying hard to control her emotions, and close to failing. Child #3 was missing. She’d looked everywhere she’d been with him. She’d communicated with the park officials. But she couldn’t find him. And neither could they. And she was, second by second, going crazy with fear for our child. But this didn’t stop her from continuing to look for him. And eventually, she found him, at the top of a ride for which he was too small. He was crying - not because he was lost, but because they wouldn’t let him on the ride.

When she got to him, it was such an unbelievable relief! He wasn’t taken. He hadn’t fallen into the wave pool. He was safe. The level of joy that my wife experienced was overwhelming and powerful. It brought her (and me when she finally called me back) to tears.

This is, I think, what it’s like for God and us. God doesn’t condemn us to Hell. We do. We all, at some point in our lives, reject God’s love for us. We reject his wisdom for the best way to live our lives. We reject it. We reject Him. In doing so, we let go of God’s hand, and walk away from Him. Where we end up is in a place without God, a place where we replace God with ourselves. God calls that place Hell. And all of the suffering and torment that exists there, doesn’t exist because God puts it there. It exists because we think *we* can be God. We can’t. When we try, we suffer.

On the other hand, God knows this. And He is driving himself crazy trying to get us to turn back to him. He’s trying to prevent the suffering that we will create for ourselves. He loves us. The fear that my wife felt when she lost just one of our children, is *nothing* compared to what God feels with the prospect of losing countless numbers of us.

So, he did something. He became a man. Because we’ve heard that phrase so many times, it’s really easy to gloss over the impact of this. It would be like me suddenly deciding that in order to save a colony of slugs around my house, I had to become one. This, of course, would have some advantages. Not least of all, I could communicate to the slugs in their own language. Basically what God did was to stop the course of human history and get in. God himself came to earth, in the form of a man named Jesus.

He then embarked on a three part mission: First to give us an example of how to live, second to give us a way out of our self-created Hell, and third, to build his church so that the mission of Christ could be carried to every end of the earth. Jesus Christ came here on a last ditch rescue mission, as a throw out all of the stops, do anything possible to keep us, his beloved children, safe. To save us from ourselves and our foolish behavior.

Because the thought of losing any one of us is horrifying to God.

When we turn back to God and ask him to help us cross the bridge he built through Christ, the Bible describes it as rejoicing in Heaven. God himself is overcome with joy that we’ve been found and returned to him. This is a joy that is like what my wife felt when she found our child, but immeasurably more powerful.

God doesn’t condemn us. We condemn ourselves. But it is the last thing in the universe that He wants. And he is actively looking to save us from that.