Sunday, April 5, 2015
Someone dear to me has discovered atheism as the explanation that makes the most sense out of the world and human behavior. I love and respect my atheist and I love that he is thinking deeply. What he has to say about what he is learning challenges me and makes me think about my own faith walk. It has made for an interesting Lent. Perhaps you are wondering if I, as a Christian, am worried about his immortal soul. Well, no. My faith in God is not a form of fire insurance. My faith says that people have to ripen in God’s time, not mine. My faith says that God takes people as they are. My faith also tells me to do the same: take people as they are, where they are, with love and respect, and without judgment. This is only one of the reasons that being a Christian is really hard. Atheists believe that man invented God, not the other way around. They cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell God. If they perceive no empirical evidence of God’s existence, it follows that there is no God. Whatever life throws at them, they can handle on their own. Given all that splendid reasoning, why do I and so many human beings persist in believing that there is something greater than ourselves? Because splendid reasoning skips lightly over the parts of reality that are invisible to the eye. Purely rational thought omits the longing of the spirit. Because I am a Christian, I shall speak of my Christian experience. I was called. Answering a call from God means you have to answer to something higher than yourself and surrender your own sweet will. In the early days of my adult conversion, almost thirty years ago now, I realized how much harder it is to be a believer than a non-believer. Knowing I was accountable made me want to cop out on my conversion, but it was too late. A Christian has to persist in believing that, all apparent evidence to the contrary, God is good and is working to turn all things to good. As a Christian I believe that Christ lived, was crucified, and rose again. How’s that for a stretch of the rational mind? I am called to stay aware that I am not the one to mete out God’s judgment. You should thank God that I am not in charge of judgment. I am called to perceive myself and others through the lens of humility. I have to work at humility. It does not come naturally to me. By nature and training I have a bad temper, am judgmental, do not think well of myself, and want everything done my way. What is humility? It is not beating yourself up. It is an honest acknowledgement of who you are. It is an unwillingness to be arrogant because you understand how vulnerable you are as a human being. It is owning responsibility for your own behavior, and minding your own business when it comes to other people’s behavior. Humility is contrary to our human nature. When we’re hurt, we feel justified in wanting to hurt back. When we feel victimized, we want to see our abusers punished, and we want everyone else to see them as the dirty dogs we think they are. Humility is counter-intuitive. I believe God asks you to acknowledge your own true worth and dignity, to own your gifts and flaws, to go and sin no more. To walk with your head up and do what you can to encourage the good in humanity, ease the pain of humanity, and contribute to the healing of the world by being your own honest, precious, beloved self. By humanity I mean: the people with whom you deal in your everyday life. Family, friends, the cashier at the grocery store. Did I mention that the faith walk is really hard? Wouldn’t it be great if all religious and all non-religious people had a common vision of good and could join together to make this world a better place? Wow. Too bad that we are too busy finding fault, trying to control other people to make ourselves comfortable, waging war, and worse, to make that happen. Well, that’s what I’m thinking at the end of Lent, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I only have so much space here. Thanks for reading. Go in peace.