Almost all old timers — I do not mean Alzheimer’s or me — remember when they had a class where the teacher brought up a philosophical exercise about choices. Usually, it had to do with a sinking ship, one lifeboat and too many survivors in shark-filled waters.
“Hey, folks! I know there are at least 20 of you out there, but we only have room for three. We’ve got to choose who will live and who will die!”
The class was given a sheet of paper filled with data about the people in the water: age, sex, race, education, occupation, religion, family, etc. Seventeen fictional people would be sacrificed. Three would be saved. How would you choose?
Let’s update this a tad. Our world has just experienced a catastrophic pandemic that leaves a handful of survivors surrounded by mutant flesh-eating zombies. (Man, I like my scenario better than the lifeboat story!) Anyway, a dozen mean and reasonably well-armed unaffected and usually attractive people have found a shelter that is stocked with enough food, supplies and weapons for 15 people to last until an antidote has been developed. Right now, there are 50 scared and desperate souls begging to be sheltered. Three will have an open door and the rest will be zombie lunch. Make a choice. Will you pick the scientist, doctor, soldier, pregnant lady or a teenager, old man, perhaps an artist? Whoa! How about the Presbyterian, Methodist, Jew or Scientologist?
I know some are saying to themselves, “This is pretty lame. Let’s be realistic. We know that our world has a potential growth in population that is not too far from disaster! Recent studies seem to indicate that food supplies will be scarce, resources on the verge of depletion and studies of rats in an overcrowded laboratory experiment pretty well prove that survival of the fittest is predictable.” The next thoughts might be, “What must the world do to save what we have: limited size of families, planned rationing, euthanasia of the gravely ill, people over 70 years of age, pets and habitual criminals?” Not meaning to be flippant or casual, the fact is that when survival is at stake, options can be terrible, unimaginable and final.
Let’s get Biblical. “For everything, there is a season ... a time to be born and a time to die. Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit (perhaps a couple of seconds) to your life?” There is no question that most everyone wants, deserves, hopes for and expects a reasonably long life filled with more success than failure, more reward than punishment and more love than hate. If we read our Bible carefully, critically (I don’t mean criticize) and honestly, there are few guarantees to reassure us that life can be a “walk through the park.”
Fortunately, for God’s chosen people, there is no limited lifeboat, no overcrowded spaceship and certainly no shelter for just the deserving, those who can contribute or those who meet some human requirements based on a list of qualifications.
“For God so loved the world...!”
“While we were yet sinners...!”
The Pearly Gates are not locked. Heaven is not an overcrowded lifeboat. We do not have to rely on the Saints to pick us. Do we realize that we are the ones who choose the gift of life?
“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved!”