No its not the beginning of a joke. Its the beginning of a typical interaction. You and your buddies are hanging out having a beer, and your non-Christian friend asks you about this whole “God thing” that you are into. Why do you believe all this stuff? Who is Jesus, and why did this Jesus have to die?
“Why did Jesus have to die?”- How would you respond?
I would probably give an answer that is very relational, because I many non-Christians my age have post-modern sensibilities which lead them to have an averse reaction to any account of the gospel which revolves around breaking rules. I feel as though they would be suspicious of a rules based gospel since moral absolutes, especially from an “ancient” religion, can come across as a power grabbing move.
I would say: “The Bible says that God created the world and humans, but don’t get hung up on how that exactly works out. The point is that God is creator, but he isn’t only a creator, he was a good creator. He gave humans the whole earth as a gift, he blessed them, loved them and asked them to cultivate the rest of creation and their relationships to each other. However, something happened and the relationship broke down. Humans decided to betray God, by loving themselves and their desires more that God and each other. By turning from God they took away from God the thing that he deserved, love and worship. But since God loved his creation so much he devised a plan to restore all of creation, especially humans to himself. That is essentially the story of Israel that you get in the OT. The OT story culminates with Jesus who dies on the cross for us. See Jesus was not like us, he never betrayed God, his relationship never broke. Jesus was perfect. Because Jesus honored, loved, and worshiped God even unto death, we can appropriate what he did, so when God sees humans who put their faith in Christ God sees Jesus. Thus we are reconciled to God back into that perfect relationship. Because of that we can now go back cultivating creation and our relationships with one another.”