I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan. I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin where Packer football borders on being a religion of its own. My son’s name is Brett, if that gives you any idea (Brett Favre). Consequently, I am also an Aaron Rodgers fan. I have often spoken his name. (Usually followed by “get rid of the ball *@&!”)
Recently I came across an interview that he did with his girlfriend, Danica Patrick. In it Aaron shares his spiritual journey to date. Thanks for doing that, by the way. You can watch that interview here: Aaron Rodgers Interview It is not that different from many people who grow up as Christians but don’t quite connect.
In this interview Aaron makes a few observations and poses a few questions that I would like to address, because many others can feel this way.
The first has to do with the experience of worship as a child. It is important for everyone to remember that the people in a worship service need to be there because they are human and therefore sinners. We are born this way. We struggle to connect with God. We focus on the wrong things (How others are dressed, who they are , what they did) As we mature as Christians, we may still opt to honor God by putting on our Sunday best, but we really don’t care about what others wear. We are just excited to see them. In a worship service, we are there to give something He really seeks: worship that is in spirit and truth. That means that God is only interested in praise that is genuine and accurate about Him. While this is only two criteria, its tougher than it sounds. Without being able to see God, we struggle to focus on God. So it is easy to lose focus and to be bored, especially as a kid. Once you come to know God better through prayer, knowing the Bible and working along side of Him; worship becomes much more relatable and easy. We are also in worship because God can minister to us there.
Like many young people, Aaron connected more with activities that were fun or active. He enjoyed Young Life and connected with meaningful activity that had an impact, like building homes for the poor. Being a disciple of Jesus has many layers. There are practices like worship, prayer, confession of sins, studying Scripture and taking the Lord’s Supper that are important to growing and preserving our faith connection to Jesus. There is also the mission of a disciple which includes “doing good works” (Ephesians 2:10) This includes a wide array of active, caring and impactful things. You need both.
The mission of a disciple of Jesus is almost pointless, however, without Jesus. We may leave a home for poor in our wake, but works like these will always be eclipsed by the gravity of our sinful thoughts, words, deeds, omission, and nature. That is why the main thing is having the connection with Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through me” says Jesus. This is the reason things are “binary”.
Aaron complains about the “binary” nature of Christianity: us versus them, saved versus unsaved, Heaven versus Hell. While we do fall on a spectrum with respect to how good of a disciple we are; at our judgment there is only two results: Our sins are covered by the death of Jesus or they are not. There are no ties in a playoff game as an analogy.
God didn’t create humans to destroy most of them. He created humans to have a mutual love and to be with Him forever. God desires “all men to be saved.” (1 Tim 2) That isn’t a false sentiment. Our situation as humans is dire says the Bible. We are all sinners and fall short of “the glory of God”. Sin is like a disease. You either have it or have been cured from it. With sin you cannot exist in the presence of God. That is why God set up a very costly cure. His own Son became human, fulfilled the Law for the whole species, and paid the price for sin himself. All that is necessary is for the Holy Spirit to get through to us and to connect us to Jesus through faith and baptism. But humans are proud, rebellious, stubborn and most reject God’s plan and His love.
Why doesn’t God just use His omnipotence and change it so that everyone is saved? The answer to this question has not been revealed and is, perhaps, outside of our ability to comprehend. I don’t believe in God’s plan because I want to see people lost, or because it satisfies all my logical inquiry. I believe because the Spirit has got me and I can see God’s explanation at work in the world, and the life of Jesus is credible. If this means that the outcome of life is “binary”, then I certainly want to know about it.
Rev. Tom Wenig, I truly appreciate how you thoughtfully and peacefully address each of Aaron’s statements. I think of our Abi, when she was young(er) and began to ask some very deep, challenging questions concerning her faith, of course, we took her very serious and used very helpful resources. By the grace of God, her faith is strong and vital for her (even in S. Korea ). While I am not aware of Aaron’s faith journey, it appears he had some unanswered questions and struggled with valid thoughts.
When I heard Aaron’s interview (I was already suspecting his position regarding Christianity as well) my heart ached for him as it became evident that he does not truly know God as God desires for us to know Him. We need to pray for him, along with Danica, simple as that.
The reason I felt so compelled to even comment here is to show my appreciation for the manner in which you addressed his statements. I have read several other pastor’s responses and felt discouraged as they would initiate it with a “thank you for your thoughts but I don’t like you because of your views, stick to what you know.” While this is paraphrased as there are many other terms they use to make up a couple of FB paragraphs, but this has been a common essence. At this time, I am convinced that Aaron needs Christian witness not condemnation and abandonment from us.
Thanks Cyndi. It is discouraging to see disparaging words directed at anyone with doubts
God created us inHis image, thus making us autonomous, self determining beings. If, as some wish, God by divine power and fiat wound solve all the problems we in our attempt to usurp Him have created for ourselves and creation, we would be no more than robots. Jesus, God Son, therefore stepped in as substitute and personal representative of all mankind and took the “eternal hit” for the result of our rebellion. And, In His love He gives us His Holy Spirit as a gift, so that we have the faith to receive His grace and promise.