Friday, September 30, 2011

Gambling on Life, Death and Faith

Recently I read an update on film critic Roger Ebert that prompted the following reflections.

Most of you know who Roger Ebert is. For years he has been one of the more popular film critics and was the long time co-host of “At The Movies” with Gene Siskel and later Richard Roeper.

In 2002 Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He has endured years of treatment and surgery, including the removal of his jaw in 2006.

In his memoir, “Life Itself”, Ebert speaks of his impending death—
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.

Many readers have informed me that it is a tragic and dreary business to go into death without faith. I don't feel that way. "Faith" is neutral. All depends on what is believed in. I have no desire to live forever.

What I expect to happen is that my body will fail, my mind will cease to function and that will be that.

Mr. Ebert has made a bet. He is betting that there is no Creator God who has given life to each person with an expectation on how that life will be lived and for which there will be accountability and possible judgment.

If Mr. Ebert is correct then it truly doesn’t matter that he hasn’t lived with a view of having a relationship with God or attempting to please God. If he is wrong then death will be a very undesirable experience.

This has led many to philosophically and theologically conclude: “If I bet that there is a God and live that way, then die and find out I was wrong, it is no big loss. However, if I bet there is not a God and live that way, then die and find out I was wrong, it is the all-time biggest loss.”

Of course most of that thinking is around the notion of spending forever either in heaven or hell. I’m sympathetic to the rationale and the concern for people to go to heaven when they die.

Of greater concern to me is this: If God is real (all powerful, all knowing, etc.), and if God has invited us to know Him (forgiveness of sin, justification, redemption and reconciliation), then not knowing God and experiencing His gracious gift of life would be the all-time greatest loss.

So here’s my challenge for Mr. Ebert and everyone else who shares his thinking: Don’t make a blind bet. Investigate, explore, and search regarding whether the claims about God and life with God are true. Don’t settle for a few superficial caricatures of faith based living that are weird, cheesy, flaky or a turn off (and there are many).

Investigate Jesus and Christianity as thoughtfully and carefully as you examine movies. If you do so, I bet that you reach a different conclusion.