Summary: What gives Jesus the right to ask us to give up our lives?
Chuck Colson relates this interesting story in his book How Then Should We Live? “In William Steig’s Yellow & Pink, a delightfully whimsical picture book for children, two wooden figures wake up to find themselves lying on an old newspaper in the hot sun. One figure is painted yellow, the other pink. Suddenly, Yellow sits up and asks, ‘Do you know what we’re doing here?’ ‘No,’ replies Pink. ‘ I don’t even remember getting here.’ So begins a debate between the two marionettes over the origin of their existence. Pink surveys their well-formed features and concludes, ‘Someone must have made us.’ Yellow disagrees. ‘I say we’re an accident,’ and he outlines a hypothetical scenario of how it might have happened. A branch might have broken off a tree and fallen on a sharp rock, splitting one end of the branch into two legs. Then the wind might have sent it tumbling down a hill until it was chipped and shaped. Perhaps a flash of lightning struck in such a way as to splinter the wood into arms and fingers. Eyes might have been formed by woodpeckers boring in the wood. ‘With enough time, a thousand, a million, maybe two and a half million years, lots of unusual things could happen,’ says Yellow. ‘Why not us?’ The two figures argue back and forth. In the end, the discussion is cut off by the appearance of a man coming out of a nearby house. He strolls over to the marionettes, picks them up, and checks their paint. ‘Nice and dry,’ he comments, and tucking them under his arm, he heads back toward the house. Peering out from under the man’s arm, Yellow whispers in Pink’s ear, ‘Who is this guy?’” Colson then says, “That is precisely the question each one of us must answer, and it’s no storybook fantasy. It is deadly serious. Beyond the public debates and rhetoric, beyond the placard waving and politicizing, at the heart of every worldview are the intensely personal questions: Who made me, and why am I here?”
These are ultimate questions, for if we are just here by accident then it is every person for his/herself. Every person decides what is good, what is right and wrong, for themselves. Instead of God being at the center of the created universe, we are the center. As the existentialists would have it, there is no God, and as a result there is no ultimate meaning, therefore we have to create our own meaning. We use utilitarian standards and figure out what is good for the greatest number of people, and especially what is good for us. Since there is no God, we become god in his place and make all our decisions accordingly.
The question of whether God created the world, or it all happened by some cosmic accident, is central to our understanding of life. Because if God did not create the world, and it all came about by chance, there is no meaning, no purpose and no direction to life. We have no more idea how we got here, or what we are doing here, than the yellow and pink marionettes. But if God indeed created the world, we understand clearly who we are, how we got here and what the purpose of our lives is. We understand what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to live. And what is more, we are accountable to this God. He tells us that he not only created the world in the beginning, but in the end there will be a judgment where every person who has ever lived will stand before him. We understand that we are moral beings, which means that have been given free will and the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. God has told us what is good and so we are responsible to him for choosing the good. Furthermore, if God created the world he has the authority to call us to obedience.
This is what the world objects to. This is what causes rebellion and the strained and futile attempts to understand the world on purely naturalistic grounds, without any reference to God. The world might accept a God who stays out of the picture and does not make demands of them, but they will not tolerate a God who gives commandments, laws, rules and principles. They would accept a nice God who just tried to make them happy, but they will not acknowledge any authority being higher than their own. Better to pretend he does not exist, and have to deal with a life that is purposeless and devoid of meaning, than have a God to whom we are ultimately accountable and who will judge us in the end. So, many people find themselves like the marionettes being carried away by their Maker, refusing to believe that he had anything to do with their existence, and asking, “Who IS this guy?”.