Today, I read the Chilean miner’s personal story. Half a year late. I was quite annoyed, really, that the impression I got from the mainstream media about the rescue wasn’t quite the same. Maybe it’s my personal bias, or maybe the media simply didn’t do a good job of telling a faith story. It’s hard to do a good faith story because everyone comes with different belief systems. I don’t know.
But it has rubbed me the wrong way and I am now making public another private rant I wrote 2 weeks ago. Deep breath and here…we…go…
God is not real for many people. I’m saying this really as a neutral observation, not with anger or pity (at least I hope not).
Logically, there is just no need for God: society is intellectually sophisticated, scientifically progressive, materially fulfilled, and entertainment saturated. We are so capable – we solve problems with creative technological solutions, economic theories, better communication and coordination. We thrive amidst challenges. We find fulfilment from families, friends, and even from helping our fellow human beings in selfless ways.
In this kind of world, where does God fit in, I wonder? We don’t have a reason to think about Him. In fact, what we’re doing, is essentially to detach every good thing which comes from God from the gift giver and attribute it to ‘human nature’ and ‘science’. It’s really possible.
And so we live; some in the comfortable spheres they build for themselves, some struggling to make ends meet, some dreaming ambitious dreams. We laugh, we live, we cry, we move on. We live OK. And in many ways, the world is still a beautiful place.
That kind of generally needless existence bubbles into trouble when deep pain arises at some stage of life. Maybe it’s a divorce, maybe a tragic loss. Just look around at our world’s problems and take your pick. Whatever it is, it can lead to deep questions in our soul…to which we can search for answers all our lives and fine none. This search might lead people to God, or, to this conclusion: I knew it all along. This God, this God that Christians profess to be the Almighty and Powerful is a meaningless, puffy idea that has no relevance in life.
And then of course, look at the Christians. No better than the rest of us.’Church? A gimmick. A ritual. A routine. A repressive cycle of religion which fails to produce breakthroughs into a real encounter with a personal and powerful God.
A good number of my friends, even Christians, have a belief system or a lifestyle that reflects this. To a large extent, I have come to respect that. But I always wonder how it’s become such a pervasively huge phenomenon among churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike to think like that.
I always wonder…how do you allow people with no real encounter and no real engagement with God get one step closer? Is religion always the answer? How about people with horrible experiences in relating to Christians?
How do I communicate God in a way that can breakthrough the misconceptions and walls and deeply rooted belief systems?
In what way can my life allow the reality of God to burst through in stunning clarity?
I cringe when we drive people away with our tactless words spoken with good intentions. I wonder how we can do better. Maybe we have to stop teaching (proselytizing!) and start learning. Have we ever stopped to appreciate the good in other belief systems? Maybe we really have to ask ourselves whether our faith is real to ourselves before forcing it on others. Maybe we just have to forget about looking good for once and learn to be a bit more honest and humble!
Faith also needs to be relevant to be real…too often, our brand of faith is just religious noise that people cannot relate to. I have some friends who struggle really hard to relate and fail. I cry for them. : ( We need to ask God for that relevance, wrestle with it until we see it. Unless we decide to go on that journey, my personal opinion is that Christianity can become a useless – destructive, even – label.
When discussing faith, sometimes there are just too many statements to qualify, and too little space. Please don’t take offense at individual statements. Instead, I hope you grasp the big picture of what I’m saying. It would be great to have you share your thoughts!