"Wow, it is hot in the desert."
There it is, just over the hill...the lights of Vegas. You and your buddy have 200 bucks to spend; that makes it 100 dollars for each of you to try to win big for the company. Your boss has given you this money to gamble with and you must make a profit; or you are fired. (I know, this would never happen, but just go with it.)
As you drive down the strip you wonder what game of chance to play: Slot machines? Roulette Wheel? Maybe Texas Hold-em? Oh look, there is sign out in front of one of the Casino's that reads: "New game, 'The Layup Payoff', if you make a simple basketball layup you double your money each time!" Hmm, sounds fishy, too good to be true. I think I will place my money on the Roulette wheel where I know I am dealing with nothing but sheer luck - - that is what a true Vegas experience is all about!
So, you both go to the Roulette wheel, your buddy puts all his money on "Black 11" and you choose "Red 36." Spin, spin, spin . . . "Black 7!" You both lose...you both get fired...you both are fools!
Fool: this is the word the bible uses for a non-thinker, brainless ignoramus, a person who acts out of impulse instead of reason. And it also is a person who is willing to gamble on their life without considering the odds. Life is a gamble, and everyone must bet. And your life is the currency you are placing on the table to either "Make a profit" or "Lose it all." It's your choice, so...place your bet!
THE WAGER: Have you ever heard of Blaise Pascal? He was one smart dude that lived in France from 1630-1660. He was a genius mathematician who invented the calculator, he wrote the Pascal computer language and he was also a very insightful philosopher back in the day.
He also was a Christian who believed sincerely in Jesus Christ as his Savior and God! One of his life goals was to try to convince the brilliant thinkers of his day that faith in Jesus was, mathematically speaking, a better bet than having no faith at all. So he came up with a formula famously called, "Pascal's Wager." (He was a brilliant thinker, so I am going to simplify some of his complex reasoning...this is a blog after all and people don't have much time to think these days. There are things to do, shows on TV, selfies to edit.)
He began his argument by proposing: The goal of any wager is to first "determine what is the best bet." You do that by calculating GAIN (probability of winning X the return on the win). If we were playing "The Layup Payoff" calculating gain would be quite simple: More than 80% of my attempts would be a winner. The payoff was good, double my money. If I had 1 dollar and bet it, I would double it by making a layup, $2. And let's say I made 10 layups in a row my earnings would be $512. Not a bad bet!
Next, calculate the COST. What would happen if I missed a layup, what would I lose? If I bet a dollar and missed the layup, I would lose a dollar. No skin off my back. If I was up to $512 and I bet all $512 and missed, now that hurts. So as I continued playing, I would learn to hedge my bet by holding some money back while continuing to play. Get the picture? Now after you subtract the cost from the gain, you get your "EXPECTED VALUE." The bet with the higher expected is the logical choice to place your money on. Straight roulette is a terrible bet as compared to "The Layup Payoff."
When it comes to gambling on your life there are 5 rules that you must play by. You really cannot bypass them because you want to, or you think you have special exemptions. No, you are a human being living on the earth and you must play by the rules; just like everyone else.
Rule 1: You must place a bet. If you are living and breathing, you are betting. You are betting on what is the best way to live now, and you are definitely betting on what kind of life you are going to receive after your heart stops beating.
Rule 2: How you live reveals your bet. When you sleep around with people that you are not married to, or when you use the "Lord's Name in Vain," you are betting that God does not see! Or for that matter, you are betting he doesn't exist at all. If you "really" believe he is watching, you will live a clean life.
Rule 3: No one has ever seen God, so we cannot say with 100% certainty "God Exists." If you try to argue this with an Atheist he will marshal out facts on his side to prove you wrong; and often he thought about his arguments more than the average Christian. So be careful, he knows how to make the average Christian look silly. So we will play it fair and say the probability on both sides is a 50% chance God Exists, and 50% chance he doesn't. (I know for Christians that percentage seems crazy because you know with a strong certainty he exists. But the Atheist won't buy into your evidence that easily because he will say it is mostly subjective. But don't worry, give the wager a chance.)
Rule 4: Determine costs: This will take time, but both sides have to be honest about the immediate losses of choosing one side over the other. For instance: Christians must endure a lot of self denial to their passions and wants, they must embrace suffering as a good thing, they are often thought of as uncool and out of touch, and they are definitely excluded in social gatherings, parties and cultural debates. But Atheists have some real costs too: they go through life suffering without hope, they live without meaning, they are often considered arrogant and snarky, and when people see someone that is only living for self, they are not to be trusted. Think Bill Mahrer...really, who likes the guy? Sure he is witty, rich and is great at mocking people - - but over time his arrogance gets extremely irritating!
Rule 5: Determine gains: You must take into account not just short-term payoff, but long-term winnings as well. For the Atheist, all they got to bank on is short-term gain, and when I say short-term, it is really short-term. An Atheist can live with "guilt free" pleasure, but pleasure is fleeting. They have no restraints, they have complete control over what they want to do, and in their mind, they are free, not constrained by a tyrant God and his cold, narrow followers. (I am not entering in the equation at this time the costs of addiction that their "supposed freedom" has given them). But they must also be honest, the Atheist has "zero" long term gain. For the Christian, there is both short & long term gain. They are trustworthy people of character, they have a loving community, they have hope in crisis, they have meaningful answers for their existence, and the list goes on. Long-term, well let's just say "heaven" is a pretty good deal! It really is. The Atheist scoffs and says, "Heaven, c'mon, it sounds too good to be true!"
HERE ARE THE RESULTS...
After every game of chance, you will have a "Winner" and a "Loser." Everyone knows that!
If you are a Christian and you...
LOSE: There really is NO MEASURABLE SORROW because when you die, you don't remember a thing. You are decaying in the dirt, you have no emotions, you are non-being and non-being has no mind. You become the stuff a rock thinks about...nothing.
WIN: You will experience PROFOUND SATISFACTION for you just gained the whole world! Not a bad deal! You will see your loved ones again, you will walk in a land that is perfect, you will never go hungry, be thirsty, or have sorrow. You will never cry again. And God promises you a perfect body! That seals the deal for me!
If you are an Atheist and you...
LOSE: You will experience PROFOUND DISSATISFACTION for not only will you be able to consciously realize you were wrong; but there is this little contractual note in the Bible that talks about a place called HELL. Let's just say, "You don't want to go there!" You won't see your loved ones again, you won't be having parties there, you will cry, gnash teeth, and be in utter torment. And you will be completely alone. This is bad...
WIN: There really is NO MEASURABLE JOY because when you die, you don't remember a thing. You are decaying in the dirt, you have no emotions, you are non-being and non-being has no mind. You become the stuff a rock thinks about...nothing. And the worst part, even though you win, you can't tell anyone "I told you so!" Sure today you can vehemently argue your point, and in your mind be right, but ultimately no one cares! So go ahead, get angry, prove your point...it doesn't matter because in the grave, "I Can't Get NO...Satisfaction!"
In Summary: I only have one thing to say: after considering the odds, the payoff and the return, it is time for you to ..."Place Your Bet!"