Let us perform a thought experiment. Let us imagine two identical islands in two identical oceans. Let us further imagine that these islands are on different planets and it is impossible to get from one island to the other. One of these islands is Island A and on it live the Lord Jesus Christ and those who truly believe in Him. The other island is Island F and on it live an equal number of those who have rejected Christ. Both islands have a Tree of life the fruits of which heal all wounds and rejuvenate the body reversing the process of aging. As a final condition, let us imagine that Jesus has no miraculous powers and that life on Island A could, in principle, be exactly the same as life on Island F. Which island would you choose to live on?
And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? (Luke 12:14)
Every true Christian can answer this question with an emphatic “I did!”. I want Jesus Christ to be my King, my Master, my Guide and my Light. Having seen the awful things that I am capable of without His love, guidance and forgiveness, I would rather die than rebel against Him. Jesus Christ is the absolute compass of the people on Island A and His commands and adjudications would be accepted without protest. This would make Island A very much more pleasant to live on than Island F. Let us consider a few reasons why that might be.
Jesus Christ is the absolute arbiter of every issue for the church. His word is the final word and His judgment is the correct judgment for all those who have asked Him to be their Lord and Saviour. For this reason, crime and dispute would be all but unknown on Island A. A person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would not, having been rebuked by Him for a poor attitude, resort to violence or theft to right a perceived injustice. Jesus did, after all, die for your sins and He loves you more than you love yourself. If He tells you that you have been paid fairly or that you have not been wronged in a dispute, this will settle the matter. True Christians here on Earth do not have access to the inerrant judgment of our Lord and we have, therefore, legitimate bases for disputes and arguments. On Island A this will not be an issue and those who have accepted Christ will accept His arbitration.
On the other hand, I see no reason why those on Island F would behave any differently than people here on Earth. If some judge or jury rules against someone in a dispute, then why would a citizen of Island F accept that the judge or the jury was being fair? None of those people died for the disputant, none of them loves the disputant as he loves himself, none of them sees things from the disputant’s perspective. A judge or jury member could have been paid off, they could have biases that prevent them from understanding true fairness, they may not be smart enough to judge correctly. For all these reasons, a person on Island F could have a legitimate basis for thinking that he was being treated unfairly. With a certain portion of the population being treated unfairly by the legal system, it is only natural that they would turn to extra-legal means to right these injustices, real or imagined. No matter how good the initial intentions, crime would be inevitable on Island F.
And, of course, with crime would come the inevitable costs that go with it. Locks on the doors, prisons, police officers, police cruisers and criminal lawyers would all be necessary. All of these costs would mean that Island A would have a great deal more money to spend on “butter” instead of guns. The standard of living would be better on Island A as a result of having Jesus as the ultimate authority.
Jesus Christ is my king and I would rather die then live without Him. Every true Christian must feel that way and His reign on Island A, therefore, would be completely secure. All the inhabitants of Island A would eat freely of the Tree of Life because this is the will of Jesus Christ who died that they might do so.
On Island F, on the other hand, leadership would be up for grabs. No ruler could ever be 100% sure of loyalty and partisan squabbles would be inevitable. To guarantee loyalty, would the rulers on Island F not guard access to the Tree of Life and only allow those who have been loyal to partake? Would this not cause revolutions and wars?
Because the islands are natural islands in all respects except for the Tree of Life, there would be an identical rate of floods, earthquakes and hurricanes for both islands. On Island A, every natural disaster would be an opportunity to demonstrate love to the victims. Jesus would lead the efforts and the damage would be quickly repaired in a community effort that might remind one of an Amish barn raising.
On Island F, of course, things would be the same as on our Earth and this would tend to increase division and strife.
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Many people have asked why you cannot get to heaven without Jesus Christ. What these people are missing is that being with Jesus Christ is heaven. Doing things His way, with His love, His kindness and His mercy. After all, life on Island A and life on Island F could be exactly the same. Because Island F does not have the Prince of Peace, however, life on these two islands would be very different. The principle that is the engine behind this difference? Accepting Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He loved you enough to die for you on the cross and His love makes all the difference.
Now, of course, a savvy wolf might say to himself. “It would be better to live on the island of the sheep than on the island of the wolves. On the island of the wolves, I would be torn to pieces by other wolves. On the island of the sheep, I would have a free hand! I could do whatever I wanted amongst those gullible sheep.” Alas that this attitude is a primary reason why Christian communities down here on Earth are not more like Island A. Praise the Lord that God can tell the difference!
Now, of course, an even savvier wolf might say, “I really want to live among the sheep, but I have lived my life as a wolf. How can a wolf become a sheep?” Fortunately for such a wolf, Jesus has provided away. All you have to do is say and believe what is known in Christianity as the sinners prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
At the beginning of this post, I asked if you would rather live on Island A or Island F. If you choose to live on Island A you get an “A” and will be blessed forever. If you choose to live on Island F you get an “F” and your eternal life will not be pleasant.
Reading over this post, I realize that I neglected to mention the number one cause of differences between the two islands. The idea of forgiveness is central in Christianity because in infinite time there are an infinite number of past transgressions between any two imperfect, created beings. Without forgiveness, Island F would become hellish as people nursing accumulated grudges would become more and more hostile to one another. I covered this basic idea in another post entitled, “An Artifact of Eternity“.