Henry: Charity, I discussed our conversation with a few of my friends and family.
Charity: Oh… it was a pretty intense conversation. I thought about it a lot too. What did your friends and family say?
Henry: Well, at first, they didn’t think you were sincere and some thought you were arguing against God. And some thought you just didn’t understand. But, I assured them you were honest with me and knew that God loved you. But, really, they were the ones who didn’t understand. They just didn’t get your concerns.
Charity: Thank you for standing up for me. I appreciate it. Did any of them have anything good to say?
Henry: Yes. Oddly enough, it was my father who said something interesting. He used to run a farm out in North Carolina and most of his advice comes in the way of farming illustrations – so you’ll have to excuse the metaphor. He said, you can be the best pig in the farm but the famer’s still gonna slaughter you in the end. The farmer’s plans don’t change because of the behavior of the pig. In fact, the better the pig, the happier the farmer will be to slaughter it. However, if the farmer plans on bringing the pig into his house for a pet, it matters very much how the pig behaves. A good pig will surely fulfill the farmer’s plans, but a bad pig may end up in the slaughter house.
Charity: Your dad seems to imply that good works do have something to do with it after all. Do you think that’s what he was saying?
Henry: Well, it started me thinking about what God wants, what his plans for us are. God isn’t willing that any should be slaughtered, so to speak, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.
Charity: I like that, but, again, it sounds like work.
Henry: It does sound like that, but then I get to thinking about the verses I mentioned earlier. They emphatically say, not by works of righteousness, but according to God’s mercy are we saved, Titus 3:5. And salvation is not by works because mankind could brag about the work he had done to earn salvation, Ephesian 2:9. My pastor is always saying you can’t earn salvation. It’s a gift. Yet, I cannot say that belief is effortless or that a faith without works is one that God honors. So, I don’t have any real answers on this. Sorry.
Charity: You know, it’s nice seeing you be real about these things. I feel like I know a little bit more about you. It’s better than being on the receiving end of a proselytizer’s conversional urge. Your dad had said something good, though. If God does really love all of us, it must be more than some desire to have a pet in the house. Love esteems the other as equal or better than itself. But, how can we be more than just a glorified pet to God? Can we God’s equal? The gulf separating the created from the creator is infinite. Can that distance ever be met?
Henry: Hmmm… When I look at the life and death of Christ, I don’t see the desire to have mere heaven-dwellers filling celestial streets. I see a loving desire so strong that it was willing to taste death just to have the one it desired. Yes, we are the created and He the Uncreated, but the love displayed on the cross must be one that lifts us higher, that bridges that distance. You could look at his death for humanity and interpret it as a master loving his pet, but you would have to dismiss his life. He didn’t go around as a kindly master caring for his pets. He loved us as his equals. He washed his disciple’s feet, John 13. He took on the duties of a servant, esteeming us better than himself, Philippians 2:7. If Jesus truly was God, then God truly loves us. And I can only say that we are more than creatures to him.
Charity: I think you got something there. I’ll have to think about it.