Proverbs 16:4 (KJV)
I've just finished the book of Proverbs. To be honest, I find it quite difficult to read 2 or 3 chapters of Proverbs every day. It's just so chocker-block full of wisdom that you almost feel like you have wisdom overload when you read more than a dozen verses. It's almost like each line needs its own dedicated day of meditation and contemplation.
I like what one commentator said on the above verse. These seven words answer life's biggest questions:
What is the origin of things? Why do things exist? Who is God? Why does evil exist?
The answer: The Lord hath made all things for Himself.
Just think about the weight and the meaning of those words. Everything in this universe, both the known and unknown - me, you, the guy sitting next to you on the bus, everything - God has made for Himself.
I must admit that although I'm quite a fan of the ESV, I think this translation doesn't do the verse justice, as it says: "The Lord has made everything for its purpose..." This implies things have a purpose apart from God, which they don't. The truth is nothing would exist apart from God. So God has made all things for Himself.
This is the beginning point for Christians and the stumbling point for many nonbelievers: the idea that you were made by a Creator for His purpose, and that despite what the world may say, your life is not your own; you are accountable to the God who made you for Himself.
And the fact of the matter is we are disobedient and rebellious against our Creator. We despise the fact that someone has a hold over our lives. Because if God created us, than He has rights over us. We live in His world and need to play by His rules. However, at the very beginning of humanity our ancestors Adam and Eve set up a pattern of rebellion against God, bringing sin and death into the world. This original sin didn't just mean that we are now aware of good and evil or that we are able to sin (after all, Adam and Eve always had the choice to obey or disobey God) - instead, it affects every part of our nature.
After the fall of Adam and Eve, human beings were born into sin, and this new sinful nature means our hearts are inclined to reject God. We do not even possess the ability to love God, but instead are captured by this sinful nature which makes us want to serve our own will and desires while rejecting God's rightful rule over our lives.
So what can we do? How can we possibly get out of this terrible state of rebellion against God? Well, that is the Good News of Christianity. It's not about what we have to DO, because it's already been DONE. All other religions or even other worldviews are about "doing". Something in us realises that we're not as good as we should be, and our conscience tells us that our sin deserves some kind of judgement. This is true. Other religions and worldviews would say you need to work to gain "salvation" or "enlightenment" by praying more, giving more, sacrificing more, etc.
However, the Bible and Christianity teach that the work of paying for our sin has already been done - by God's son Jesus Christ, who came to this earth two thousand years ago. He was both fully God and fully Man. Jesus lived a perfect life - unlike us, He didn't live in rebellion or disobedience against God, but rather did exactly what the Father told him to do and fully obeyed Him even to the point of death. As Jesus Himself said: "I always do the things that are pleasing to Him [God]." (John 8:28)
Why did Jesus have to die? He died because God knew we could never reach the perfect standard which His holiness and righteousness demands. God knew that we would sin and rebel against Him, so He provided a way for deliverance. God is eternal, and through our sins (no matter how big or small) we have broken God's eternal law, so we naturally deserve eternal punishment. Although something like lying might seem small to us, we don't see it in the light of God's holiness. The Bible says: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
Instead of leaving us to the punishment we deserve, God chose to place the penalty for all humanity's sin on His Son. And because Jesus is both Man and God, He is the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins, and He could atone for our sins. Think of it like a court case: God has pronounced us guilty of breaking his Law, and there is no way we can redeem ourselves. We could say "I'm sorry", but that doesn't mean God won't punish us. After all what good and righteous judge would let a criminal go unsentenced because he said "I'm sorry"? You could try pointing to all the good things you've done, but in God's eyes your good works are just as bad as your sins, because they show that you thought you could somehow bypass God's judgement through your own efforts while ignoring His way of salvation through Christ. "All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment." (Isaiah 64:6)
No, the only way to be right with God is to accept that we have broken God's laws, that we have been rebellious from birth, and to turn to the cross - to Jesus Christ the Saviour. Jesus died on the cross for you and me, and rose again three days later, defeating death so that we might be reconciled to God. This is why God created you, and this is why God created the universe.
"The Lord hath made all things for Himself" that He might save humanity - the greatest story ever told and the best news ever shared. We can be reconciled to God, and He has completely provided the way. All we need to do is repent (turn from our sin) and place our trust in Jesus Christ to save us.