Muddle Choice Test
Someone once said something to the effect that “For the believer in Christ, this world is the most of Hell they’ll ever see. For the unbeliever, this world is the most of Heaven they will ever see.”
That sounds like a pretty easy T/F question, A or B. Simple. However, to us educators, test making is an art. A ‘well-designed’ multiple choice question will have a variety of plausible answers. If you make this common mistake, you will get “A,” this other mistake will be “C,” and so on, such that only the student who really understands the material will pick the right answer. Neither guessing nor partial understanding will help. Students tend to hate this kind of question because they feel like they are being tricked, when really the instructor wants to see how well you really understand the material. On the occasion when I’ve done this technique and had the time, I would set up the key so that these partial answers would receive partial credit, and the closer you got to the right answer, the more points received. However, few take the time to go to this extra step because it does take a LOT more effort, and I only did either occasionally.
Some people perceive this is how God has stacked the deck against them.
While there are really only two basic choices, there are many variations. To make matters worse, there is an enemy who blames God for the hellish parts of this world and takes credit for the heavenly parts. Some feel that God allows this to see who is really serious and is hoping to trick people who don’t figure it all out.
Others say that if you get any credit for taking any steps ‘in the right direction,’ you pass. A few others go so far as to say that just writing your name on the paper is good enough to pass—God will save everybody.
What does Scripture say?
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Matthew 7:13
To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. Matthew 13:12
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21
And others. So far, the cynics are winning. God is hiding and apparently looking for excuses to throw people in Hell. “Ha, Ha! Eternal FAIL!”
Scripture also says:
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there. Isaiah 48:16a
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:26-27
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. John 12:32
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:1-10
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:24-25
And, again, MANY more. In these and other passages, we see that God rewards those who seek Him, not merely those that stumble over Him as they blissfully go through their lives.
He consistently, in both Testaments, uses the imagery of lovers to describe His desired relationship with us. Couples may be apathetic. “Oh, it’s you again.” Lovers are not. He woos us, sometimes subtly through a sunset or a shooting star or a discovery of a new species. Sometimes brazenly, like St. Paul's conversion, or through an unsought-for miracle.
It is our response that makes or breaks the courtship. To go back to the exam example, are we just trying to rush through the test so we can get on with the rest of our lives, or do we take joy in exploring the depths of the problem and seek out new understanding?
A few weeks ago, I gave an exam where I did something commonly done—I introduced a new, simple concept in a test question, defined it, gave an example, and tied it into what they already knew. Nearly every one of the students protested that it wasn’t fair. Just because it was new, it should not be on the exam. They refused, even with multiple explanations, to believe they could do the problem, much less learn something useful from it.
Sometimes instructors will use an advanced test question to highlight an inconsistency or weakness in theory or a paradox and challenge the students to play with it and find the resolution. Again, as a rule, students reject such attempts. They tend to be more concerned with getting through the exam for a grade than absorbing the field they are studying. On one level it is irrational because the real point of schooling is to learn and to train one’s mind to think, and they are shortchanging the process. On another level, it makes sense because the hard work offers delayed gratification, and the post-exam happy hour offers instant relief and pleasure.
We were placed on this Earth so that God could court us. We respond by countercourting the things in this world that He meant as gifts. Like the majority of students, the majority of us miss the point, and don’t understand why we fail the class.