Betting with your life
Are you a betting person? Blaise Pascal says you are.
Blaise Pascal was a brilliant French philosopher, mathematician and physicist who live in the 17th century. He devised an argument for choosing God that goes something like this:
All humans bet with their lives either that God exists or not. If you believe in God and he does indeed exist, then you gain an infinite reward (heaven). If God doesn’t exist, your loss is limited (some pleasures, etc.) But if you do not believe and God exists, your loss is infinite (hell.) Therefore, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God.
There is a compelling logic to what Pascal says. However, many (most?) people misinterpret the terms of the wager. They hear it to say, “Believing in God doesn’t require much, but it pays off big in eternity, so play it safe and choose to believe in God.”
The problem with that line of thinking is, “believing in God” isn’t mere mental assent to the idea that God exits. That kind of “believing” isn’t what brings an eternal reward. James 2:19 says, “Even the demons believe, and shudder.”
Jesus says that becoming his disciple will cost us everything. In Mark 8:34 Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
So to place the bet means to lay your life down before Jesus and turn the rights of your decision-making and destiny over to him. It means to gamble that he was right when he said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25) And the wonderful bonus is that the rewarding life we find begins right here, right now.
Yes, it’s true that every day we are each betting with our lives one way or the other. As for me, I’m going all in with the One who rose from the dead. It doesn’t look like much of a gamble to me.