Many people imagine that God runs a scheme along the lines of the bush tucker trial on “I’m a celebrity get me out of here“.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the start of this (don’t watch the fourth and fifth trials, they are puerile):
The rules of the bush tucker trial are simple:
1. Eat gross things (live cockroaches, live locusts, live witchetty grubs etc)
2. Get a reward at the end of the day
The parallels with religion are clear:
1. Do hard things (go to church every week, be baptised, do good, wear a head covering of some description, pray, get circumcised, give to charity, do a pilgrimage on your knees preferably over stony ground and that sort of thing)
2. Get a reward when you die
Religion makes God out to be either a slightly perverse circus ringmaster, demanding cheap tricks from us for eternal rewards, or a sniggering trickster like Ant and Dec, laughing behind our backs as we do silly things for his pleasure.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ is an inverse of the bush tucker trial:
1. Look to Jesus, who is good. Trust him, love him, thank him for living the perfect life that I cannot live and for dying the death I should have died and FEED on him by faith with a thankful heart.
2. Jesus is the reward, he is the five course meal, received in the present without doing anything for God. Through faith in him sinners receive his righteousness, victory over death and eternal life.
This is not new. It is the way God has always done things. The original bush tucker trial was held in the Garden of Eden. The trial was the gospel and it was a no-brainer, as God said:
1. Eat from this tree and I will give you eternal life, I promise
2. Eat from this other tree and I’ll give the the knowledge of good and evil, I promise.
3. You are free to eat from any tree but one. If you eat from the second tree, I’ll execute you, I promise.
The God of the bible is kind, generous, gracious, holy, protective and loving. He gives people who trust him the good stuff and he protects them from harm, including the harm of offending him, by prohibiting the bad.
Being given the five course meal for free without eating live insects would not make very good TV, but then, thankfully, God isn’t like Ant and Dec.