The Big Picture

The earth is such a mess! If you were God, how would you fix it?

Ever so wearily the week drags by. Finally the weekend arrives. You cheerfully join the throngs of happy weekenders rushing home for their two day rest. Because of all the smog you always take public transportation. Of course it takes longer and you have to put up with pushy, obnoxious people. Friday afternoons are the worst; everyone is in such a hurry. The crowded bus arrives and you shoulder your way on board. At least you are doing something to save the earth.

You could walk home, but it just brings you down. The litter-filled streets and noxious automobile exhaust depress you. Really, nobody is doing much of anything to preserve the environment. It seems as though people don’t care that the environment is being destroyed for their own selfish pleasures.

You arrive at your block, quickly walking the last twenty yards to your own little haven. You pick up your recycle bin from the front yard as you approach the door of your apartment. Casting a wary eye about for intruders you fish the keys from your pocket and begin unlocking all the locks. A strange, uneasy feeling comes over you — a premonition of something about to happen. Thoughts of a recent crime spree in the neighborhood start to work at you. All of a sudden, just opening your door fills you with dread apprehensions. What if your apartment is ransacked and all of your favorite possessions gone? Turning the last key, you fling the door open.

Relief! It is just as you left it this morning. Sinking down on the couch, you try to push the world’s problems out of your mind. You could almost laugh except the world is such a mess. You wish that somehow things could be different. If only you were in charge. You begin drifting off to sleep wondering just who is in charge. Suddenly a blinding flash of light engulfs you. You hear nothing, feeling only a strange sensation that everything is coming apart as the light penetrates you, bearing you away in its passing. To where? “Am I dead?” you wonder.

Out in Space

You slowly become aware of your surroundings — darkness with bright points of light. Your perceptions deepen. You are floating, turning to face a bright, greenish blue, glowing orb. You realize it is the earth. You are flooded by feelings that can only be described as ethereal.

This is how you’ve always imagined that God looked at things.

Like looking through the zoom lens on a camera, you see thousands of problems of life on earth leap into your awareness. You feel like you are supposed to do something about them. You can’t explain it, but somehow you realize that you have supreme power over all the earth and its inhabitants. It is very clear now. You must fix the problems.

You always wanted to play “God.” Finally you’ve got the chance. You know exactly what to do. You’ve thought it all out a hundred times before in your fantasies. You must somehow turn the earth into a paradise for man.

Creating Paradise

You begin by changing all the petroleum to water — cool, fresh, clean water. No more autos. No more smog. With that water the deserts will bloom! You make rain come again to drought-stricken lands. You destroy all the weeds ... well, most of them. Everywhere the earth brings forth abundant food — more than enough for everyone. You fill the earth with animals again, the oceans with fish, and lots of whales and dolphins.

Time to tackle the problems of man. How to do away with divisions? You know just what to do. No more countries. Take away all the borders. Make the earth one big country. Do away with centralized governments — let the people rule. To deal with race problems you turn everyone into a light, green color with no distinguishable ethnic differences. That should make everyone equal.

Next you change the laws of physics, just ever so slightly ... so that gunpowder doesn’t work, explosives don’t explode. Nuclear energy just does nothing. No more ugly nuclear plants cluttering up your paradise. This will make them get on the stick about solar energy. For the interim, you leave the coal deposits, just changing them a little so that they burn clean. You realize as an afterthought that they’ll have to dig them out by hand. But it won’t really be a problem. Why, that alone should solve unemployment.

You take away all the pests that you see no purpose for; no need to have poisons sprayed all over the place. Now everything can be organic. While you’re at it, you take away cancer and disease. You can’t quite deal with death; it somehow eludes you. But you do the next best thing and establish 120 years as a normal life span.

You survey your handiwork. The earth is a perfect place for man. The stage is set for a glorious brotherhood of man.

Just one more thing lies in the way — the whole idea of heaven and hell. So you erase it from the human consciousness. In one fell swoop you do away with religion, patriarchy, homophobia, and morality. You feel deeply satisfied that you have righted all the wrongs and opened the door for mankind to begin anew.

Trouble in Paradise

You sense your celestial duty coming to an end. Everything is set in motion. You feel yourself falling back into the paradise you have just created. You find yourself standing in your doorway. Was all this just a fantasy? Nothing has changed; or has it? You notice the air. It has a clean, sweet smell. The birds are singing loudly. You can’t hear any cars. Then you remember there aren’t any. You are in awe. It worked! The guy next door comes over. He’s pale green just like you. He smiles and says “hi,” as he brushes past you into your apartment. He begins to check things out.

“Wait a minute,” you protest. “This is my place.”

Our place,” he replies with a grin. “Remember, the brotherhood of man. What’s yours is mine. What’s mine is yours. Since I’ve got nothing, I’m sure glad that you do, else we’d both be in a pinch.”

Laughing, he picks up your stereo and several tapes. You protest, “Wait a minute, you can’t just waltz in here and take my stuff!"

His face hardens into a threatening look. From his pocket he pulls an ugly looking knife. “It’s not yours anymore, brother! It’s mine. I’d sure hate to have to hurt my brother ‘cause he wouldn’t share.”

As he leaves with your stereo, he takes your wallet too. Your paradise is quickly becoming a nightmare. You can’t keep anything for yourself and you know that when you need someone else’s stuff they won’t share.

The days roll by. Without strong government, order breaks down. Anarchy and chaos reign. Gangs of vigilantes roam the land dealing out justice. Gangs of criminals roam about, too. It’s hard to tell the difference. The restraints are gone and violence is everywhere. People just do what they want. No longer do they have to work to survive. Instead, they wander aimlessly about, looking for entertainment. There is no limit to their cruelty. Nothing seems to satisfy them.

You don’t understand. Everything you did was correct in your own way of thinking. How did things go wrong? You wake up in a cold sweat, fighting down panic as you look around your room. There’s the stereo. It was a dream, after all. But a very troubling dream. Once man’s needs were met he should have been able to live at peace with everyone else. You thought that circumstances and suffering made people choose evil; that if they could choose good then all men would. The truth dawns on you. Even in a perfect situation man chooses to do evil.

Long Ago and Far Away

It reminds you of a story you once heard. Long ago and far away there was a garden on the earth, a lovely place, a perfect environment for humanity. A man and a woman lived there in peace, walking with their Creator in the cool of the day. He had made them in His own image and put them in charge of His creation. This paradise abounded with every kind of tree that was pleasing to the eye and good for food. Every need was supplied, and they lacked nothing.

And yet, listening to the sly insinuations of the serpent, they ate from the one tree in the garden that had been forbidden to them. In that one rebellious act they lost their innocence and began to know good and evil. Expulsion from paradise and eventual death was the result.

But wasn’t that tale just the product of someone’s imagination? Didn’t somebody say it was just religion — a convenient way to explain man’s existence and keep society in line with the threat of hell and the promise of heaven? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to imagine that there wasn’t a heaven or a hell, or a God who would judge you for your deeds?

Someone said it would be easy, but it isn’t. It’s hard to imagine life with no consequences for your selfish deeds. It is so deeply ingrained in people that they must answer for their behavior. Don’t you expect others to answer for the wrongs they do to you? Don’t you expect corporate polluters to pay for their damage to the environment?

Of course you do. They’re guilty. Even though they might imagine that they’re not doing anything wrong, they’re still guilty. So what about you? Do you imagine that you are not guilty for the things that you do? What if you don’t feel guilty? Does that mean that you have no guilt?

Maybe if God was something you made in your image, and not vice versa, you could imagine your guilt away. You can make an imaginary god be any way you want. You can make him think the way you do. You can call him by any name that suits you — Allah, Krishna, Jesus, etc. You can even make him go away if he gets too troublesome. An imaginary god can’t call you to account for your misdeeds. Neither can he cleanse you from your guilt. He can only lead you to imagine your guilt is gone.

The real God isn’t that way. He really got involved in the real problems of humanity. He became a human being, suffered things that we suffer, lived His whole life free from guilt, and then paid for our guilt with His guiltless life. He did it all for a very practical reason. He had created us to take charge of the creation, to care for the earth, to deal with the problems. Even though our sin made us unfit for this purpose (so that we humans cause more problems than we solve), He still expects us to do what He created us for. That’s why He doesn’t just solve all the problems the way you might imagine God would do. He is concerned with getting a people that He can entrust the earth to once again. He wants to cleanse them absolutely of the selfishness and corruption that humanity is riddled with so that they will be faithful to carry out His will and not their own.

The true God and Savior of mankind, Yahshua, is presenting humanity with a choice: the forgiveness and life that He can give, or the destruction and death that they can bring about on their own. There will be consequences for how each individual chooses.

You may not like the options. You may try to imagine another alternative. After all, people do it every day — imagining Him away. But the day is coming when each person will have to give an account for how he lived his life. On that day, it will be hard to stand before Him, the actual Ruler of the universe, and imagine He is not there.

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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