Little Johnny is very excited, he can’t wait for Christmas. Santa Claus will bring him a lot of toys, because he had been a good boy. He is a little worried because there were a few times when he hadn’t been so good, like the time when he drew on the wall of his room. Mom and Dad had been really angry. Santa Claus must know, he knows everything. He watches every child around the world all year round and knows who is good and who is bad.
Very early on Christmas morning, Johnny sneaks down to see Santa Claus bringing his presents. But he sees his parents arranging the parcels under the tree. He understands that Santa doesn’t exist, it had been his parents all along. They hear him loudly crying on the stairs.
When Johnny is a little older, he wondered about what had happened. An omniscient, omnipresent magical white-bearded guy watching if you are good or bad to reward the first and punish the second. All these fairy tales sounded the same to him…
What better way to scare a child into obedience than to invent an invisible powerful being watching his every move and who will reward or punish him? Of course, the criteria for good or bad are never very clear, so whatever you do, you are worried that it is not good enough.
Bob is looking forward to the big game. He has prayed every night for them to win the championship. He goes to the stadium with his friends and they take a beer down to their seats. The game is great, with the suspense high to the last minute.
Joe is an avid fan for his team. He prays for their victory all the way to the stadium. He meets his friends and they are held at the edge of their seats until the last minutes of play. With a score during overtime, Joe’s team wins. They are ecstatic!
Walking out of the stadium, Bob and his friends are disappointed.They yell obscenities to the fans of the winning team. A fight is barely avoided.
Did God intervene?
You pray for your team to win. What does god do? Does he change his plan and have your team win? Does god ever change his plans? What if another fan prayed for his team, does god choose? On what basis does he choose? Wouldn’t he have chosen the same without your prayer?
What can prayer mean?
Jesus, as god, elaborates a complicated plan to forgive us. Somehow god, as Jesus, is nailed to a cross and dies in agony. Of course, god, as Jesus, does not really feel pain or die. But it does get the message across. To convince the world, he needs the drama. The betrayal by Judas is especially powerful, he plays an important part in the show. This was the best way for Jesus, as god, to forgive us our sins.
I always feel sorry for Judas, he, not god, made the ultimate sacrifice for the plan to succeed. Without him, we might never have recognised Jesus as our saviour. Too bad he never gets the recognition he deserves.
So, what’s the point? Why go through all this theatre to forgive mankind? If god wanted to forgive mankind, why didn’t he just do it?
More than this ineffable forgiveness, the point seems more to have been to trick people into believing in him. Is that really how god works? If it was all a show, all manipulation, nothing was sincere, what is the message? The end justifies the means? Is that his teaching?