One of the most distinctive things about christianity is that Almighty God longs for relationship with us. To my knowledge no other religion describes God seeking to repair a relationship with a creation who has disobeyed him. In fact they all teach about distant gods with only a passing interest in the most special humans. This offer is either completely fraudulent or the greatest gift imaginable.
Christianity teaches that God created a perfect world and gave humans; the crown of his creation; the gift of free will. With this will we chose to reject perfection and seek to do things our own way. This choice has been repeated by all but one since. By rights God should destroy us, or at least to leave us to destroy ourselves. He is certainly under no obligation to have anything to do with us.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” - Genesis 3
The bible teaches that this disobedience was not Gods good plan for us, instead he wanted to have a relationship with us as he did with the first humans. In Genesis we see this personal relationship with his creation as he walks in the garden enjoying his creation and coming to speak to the couple he created. The great betrayal was that they had rejected Gods extraordinary offer of relationship with those who should have been subservient to him.
We have all fallen short of Gods plans for us, I know I certainly have. No one is free from rebellion against God whether from selfishness or pride, we have all chosen ourselves over Gods plan. And I believe we all suffer the consequences of those decisions, that is the distance we have placed between ourselves and our creator. Looking at the world around us we find it much easier to see these faults in others but the reality is (and we all know it deep down) that we are just as culpable.
The whole remainder of the bible is the story of God seeking to rebuild the relationship his creation rejected. Time after time God saves from calamity of our own design, only to see those he had helped quickly return to their sin. Yet through all of this he does not ever force us by removing the will he had given us or wiping us all out. Both would be deserved, but neither have been done.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. - Matthew 23
The bible tells a story of a father longing for restoration with children who have made all the wrong decisions, longing to restore to them the good plans he had. And like a good father he does not try to force his children but instead disciplines them and has patience as he waits for their return.
God longs for our return but he also cannot tolerate the evil we have done. Justice demands that we answer for what we have done, both the great and the small. Allowing us to continue un-punished would validate the evil we have done, and God cannot do that, so instead he paid this price for us by suffering and dying in our place. Almighty God sacrificed himself to bear our punishment. In doing this he has allowed us a path back to him.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As Lewis adeptly puts it Jesus claims demand an answer. If his claims are true he paid a terrible price to offer us a priceless gift.
If Jesus was God there can be only one response. We cannot reject his offer of salvation. He has paid a heavy price to give us a gift we do not deserve. Rejecting such a gift precludes us from our very purpose, but it is also a shameful affront to the price which was paid for the gift. Those who do reject the gift will bear the consequences which we all rightfully deserve for no benefit but their own arrogance. Given this any rational person accepting Jesus is God, can make only one response, any other is truly madness.
I have accepted Christs gift, and as a result I am truly grateful. Its a gift I can never hope to reciprocate or repay but out of respect for the one who paid my debt I will try to live to honor him. It is the only decent thing I can do. To take the gift and live like nothing has changed is like a prisoner clinging to the bars when a friend has bailed them out, distasteful and ungrateful.
A glorious future
We as christians have traded debt for riches, now instead of our own inadequacies we can look forward to a friendship with the creator of all. He who made every wonderfully intricate creature, every breathtaking landscape and every heavenly spectacle has become our companion.
We are party to a purpose like no other, to know our Lord, and marvel at the works of his hands. We are to hear answers the deepest mysteries and see wonders we could never hope to see in our lifetimes from him who created them all. Truly this is the greatest gift ever to be received