I didn't understand this idea of a God who says, 'You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I'm the best, and then I'll give you eternal happiness. If you won't, then you don't get it!' It seemed to be about ego. I can't see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me. Brad Pitt
There are countless people like Brad Pitt who feel that God is harsh because He only gives eternal life to those who acknowledge Him and hell to those who reject Him.
These people are ignorant of the fact that God has given them (and every other human on earth) a choice to choose what they prefer: Hell and Heaven are not meant to be places of punishment/reward for our conduct. They are both the direct result of our choices: The result of choosing God is eternal life.
The result of living for self is death and hell. So being in Hell or Heaven isn't about God punishing His enemies and rewarding his friends. They are the result of the choices that we make. Hell is when we choose to live for self. Eternal life is when we choose to deny ourselves to know God.
The Adam and Eve analogy:
-Gen 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
In the Garden of Eden, God made man to bear His image and likeness(eternal life). Man never asked God to bestow his image on Him. It was a free gift from a loving God who cared for man.
After creating man, He gave the man 2 choices but advised (not forced) the man to reject the tree of knowledge of good and evil because it symbolized death. However, the serpent deceived the woman into believing that the fruit that God forbade her to eat from was ideal for her and her seed and fooled her into thinking it was what she needed to elevate her to godhood(Gen 3:5-6).
As a result of this, she rejected the tree of life that God claimed was good for food and chose the forbidden tree that God forbade and as soon she and her husband (Adam) ate from it, they got the consequences of their actions:
They died to God and inherited a new sinful, temporal and rebellious image from the forbidden tree. When God sent them out of the garden, He wasn't punishing them. He was giving them what they chose. He offered them life but they prefered death (as symbolized by the tree). So he gave them what they chose: A life separated from God (their life)
There are 2 choices available to Mankind:
-Deut 30:19:I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
-Heb 11: 15-16:And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city
God intended for all of us to bear His divine image. That was why he bestowed it on the 1st man Adam in the 1st place. But as a result of the choice of our progenitors, we naturally bear their sinful image not by choice but because we emanated from them. The choice they were making was ultimately for all the seed that would emanate from both of them.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.John 12:24-25
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.Rom 8:13
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.Gal 6:8
Like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, God is offering us 2 choices today. The choice to deny ourselves of the choice of our progenitors (The Cross, a life lived for God) or a life lived seeking to please the self and its desires (self glorification and gratification) which leads to hell.
If we prefer the temporal life of sin and self gratification that was passed unto us to the self denial that would lead us to the eternal life that God wants us to inherit, we will perish. If we prefer eternal life and the sacrifice that we have to go through to attain it to the gratifications of our temporal life then we would live.
-By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.-Heb 11:24-26
As you can see from the verse above, Moses had the same choices that we have today. He had the choice to be a prince in Egypt(the world) but He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God instead of indulging in the pleasures of living for self. Why do you think he did that? Because He loved God and realized that what he stood to gain by following God was by far greater than what he stood to lose in Egypt.
So to Brad Pitt and others like Him I say: God doesn't have an ego issue neither is he overly concerned about whether you worship Him or not. If He had an ego problem and was so obsessed with people worshipping Him, He would'nt have given them the abillity to disagree and rebel against Him. He would have made them automatons who did what he wanted them to do at all times and without question.
God will always be God whether you worship Him or choose not to worship Him. God only gives you the consequence of your actions: You can't sow corn and reap rice. If you choose hell(eternal separation from God) He delivers it to you because that is what You like. If you choose eternal life (His Holy Spirit) then you will get it.
That is why the Bible says in Prov 8:36:"...all that hate Me (Jesus, the wisdom of God) love death". When we hate the Cross of Christ (submission to Jesus, self denial) it shows we love death and hell, because that is what living for self symbolizes
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own device.Prov 1:29-31
Here is an analogy that explains what i mean: It was Brad Pitt's choice to be with Angelina Jolie instead of His wife Jennifer Aniston. There are definitely consequences that go with His choice.
He shouldn't expect Jennifer to want to live with Him anymore or have a lovers relationship with Him anymore Why? Because it was his choice to be with Angelina so things would never be the way they used to be with Jenn unless he decides to leave Angelina and reconcile with Jenn and even at that the reconciliation would depend on Jenn's willingness to reconcile with Him.
That is the same way it is with God. If you decide you want to live without Him, you will enjoy your existence here on earth without Him but live an eternal life of regrets because the God who you rejected is your life in eternity.
However, if you reject your present life and choose Him, you will be sure of him ruling in your heart forever and giving you eternal life. We cannot eat our cake and have it. The status quo always changes with every new choice that we make.
So world make the choice today. Do not blame God. The decision is yours to make. Now is the time.
Only one life, 'Twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.
-C.T. Studd (1860-1931)