My wife and I were on vacation in 2003, and the movie, Pay It Forward, was featured in the motel’s HBO entertainment list of programs. We watched it and thoroughly enjoyed its theme. In fact, I’ve watched it several times since then at home, but, whenever I do, I always seem to recall that first time in the motel room with my wife.
The theme is simple and is built up around a young boy, Trevor McKinney, living in Las Vegas who is challenged in a class assignment to come up with a plan to change the world in his junior high’s sociology class. He began by doing a favor for his mom, his teacher and a homeless man. They, in turn, must do a favor for three others. The focus of the movie is upon Trevor, his family and his teacher. However, behind the scenes and in far-away places, Trevor has touched the lives of many, unawares. Beginning with the homeless man that he helped, someone recalled a favor done for them in faith that they would act likewise for someone else in need. The movement became large enough to be recognized by local news media in different places and to arouse a Los Angeles journalist’s curiosity about how it all began.
Actually, Pay It Forward, is not unlike what God had done for Israel. Neither Moses nor Israel, itself, had done anything to obligate God to help them (Deuteronomy 9:4-5). Yet, he broke the bond of slavery the Egyptians had over them, and God took his people out of Egypt (Exodus 20:2-3). Other nations had their gods, but he would be Israel’s only God, if they would trust in him as their King and obey him. To begin with, the wealthy in Israel were to treat others (brethren and strangers) as God had treated them (Leviticus 25:38-44; Deuteronomy 15:12-15). Wealth was not to be used only to serve oneself, but also to serve those among them who were in need. They were to live in such a way, obeying God in such a way that other nations would be impressed and seek to understand why Israel was so blessed and so wise.
The new atheists don’t seem to take into consideration that God is interested in the wellbeing of all nations. They never seem to know what it would look like, if God showed that he did, indeed, care for everyone. Those of the new atheists who do offer an example of how God should act, err in having him approve of all people, everywhere, in all their immoral deeds, that is, of course, except in what men consider to be immoral. God should rid us of that immorality. In other words, all that is ever offered in the way of peace between God and man is that God must be responsible for everything men find too difficult to eradicate (crime, terrorism, accidents etc), and let mankind be innocent of all wrongdoing in matters pertaining to immorality that men want to approve. How would this plan fare? Would it successfully solve our problems? Hardly!
The problem is that such a plan doesn’t consider the contradictoriness of such a proposal. Mankind simply does not agree on what is immoral. Blinded, perhaps by its own philosophy of political correctness, they don’t even consider the gravity of the problem of religious differences. Worldviews are extremely important, because they define how one sees reality. Politicians cannot simply conclude that all worldviews are equally correct. Long before there was a 9/11, there were political terrorists, people who had a different idea of how a government should be run. When the leader of a religious faction becomes a leader of a nation, problems are compounded. Will other religious factions within the nation be allowed to co-exist? What type of foreign policy would that nation have with a secular government or other religious governments whose faith contradicts the one in power of this nation? Promoters of political correctness are like the ostrich who hides its head in the sand in the face of calamity, hoping the problem will go away. Saying that God does not exist and that religious people employ an outdated worldview may sound like entertaining rhetoric, but it doesn’t solve any problems.
All the world’s religions are different; no two of them could ever be equally correct. Yet, God is called upon to agree with men that that should not make a difference and say what is illogical—all are equally true!
Historically, God reached out to the nations through Israel. Driving out the Canaanites by Israel was as much a statement of how God wanted all nations to behave, as it was to give Israel a homeland. God paid it forward in hope that Israel’s allegiance to him would allow him to morally correct, not only his people, but the other nations as well (cf. Joshua 2:9-13). The nations knew of the Lord’s work among his people and feared. Some, like Rahab, were able to see that the God of Israel would also be merciful to gentiles, even Canaanites, if they would repent and submit to him. God placed his people between two great empires, knowing that the significant world trade between the two would pass through Israel. In this way the nations would learn of the God of Israel, because the merchants would bring that knowledge back to their own countries. If Israel had remained faithful to God, there is no telling what that would have done in terms of world peace and the spread of truth.
Today, God reaches out to the nations through his church. We have no borders and our allegiance to our homelands comes second to our allegiance to God. Our message is simple—that God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son (John 3:16), and that he paid it forward and is never far from any of us (Acts 17:24-30).
 As I said HERE, this current theme about “making sense of the Old Testament God” is based upon the book: Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. These are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Paul wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read concerning defending our faith.