I think a lot of people today believe in God.
And maybe for a lot of people they don’t say “God” but rather, the universe or, great energy… or the force.
But somehow it seems there is a comparatively small number of people who will actually say, “I don’t believe there is a God.”
For many, that’s the end of their spiritual adventure. Because what does it matter?
Around us are archaic religions with outdated ideas who just end up killing each other over trivial things.
Most of these religions are run by old, celibate white men who really need to get with the times.
They repress sexuality, and indoctrinate children. They promote superstition and ultimately, they create a system of belief which is self-perpetuating, in that, you need to be part of “the club” in order to be okay with God. And if you act or think differently, you are doomed.
And God is just a comfort blanket for people who are afraid of the reality that when we die there is nothing.
I think I’ve outlined the main arguments against “God” and “organised religion”.
These arguments are right, and wrong. They are right in so far as, yes, those things and ideas have been perpetuated and practiced by some, but they are also wrong because they assume these ideas are ultimately what religion is about.
Religion is not man-made. Religion is a word. And the word is about Man and his relationship with God. And we start from there.
So maybe you believe in God, or maybe you don’t.
But I am sure you believe in respect, in morality and in old-fashioned good nature and manners.
I like respect. Let’s look at the idea of respect. What does it look like in practice?
Lying and Cheating?
My point, being fairly basic, is that respect is a human virtue. If someone wants the betterment of humanity, she believes in respecting her fellow human beings. Would that be fair to say?
Respecting their dignity. Respecting their opinions. Respecting their rights. Respecting their safety and security. Respecting their privacy. Respecting their health. Respecting their bodies. Respecting their sexuality. Respecting their achievements. Respecting their humanity.
Sounds like a good idea, huh? Wouldn’t that be a fantastic world to live in if everyone did that?
Well why don’t we?
If we are so sure that the answer is simple. That people just need to be good to each other, then why aren’t we living in an ideal world?
There is an ancient story. A man approaches his teacher and asks:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
The teacher replies:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
The problem with the world is not religion, as many people try to imply. The problem with the world is mankind.
What people seem to think is that “religion” is a “no”; That belief in God is a “no”
I personally struggle to see how people can think this. Everything within Christianity is ordered toward loving better.
Meet hate with Love.
Meet violence with Love.
Meet pain with Love.
Meet suffering with Love.
Meet disaster with Love.
Meet people with Love.
And what is Love? Desiring the best for others.
How does this not sound like a good thing?
We live in a society of entitlement. We feel entitled to things; Entitled to a comfortable life. Entitled to peace. Entitled to sex. Entitled to money. Entitled to freedom.
Yet none of those things mean anything without love. A comfortable life without a desire to improve others lives is a lonely, self-centred existence. Peace without love I don’t think is possible, it is just “keeping the peace”. Sex without love is using. Money without love is capitalism. Freedom without love is not freedom.
I guess my point is that your desire to be “a good person” is a desire to love. And a desire to love is a desire to put others first. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling or “romantic love”, it is sacrifice and commitment. This is counter cultural. We are told if something “isn’t working for you” then ditch it. The whole idea of commitment has gone out the window.
For this idea of wanting the best for others to work, there has to be a belief that at everyone’s core, even if they don’t know it themselves, is the same desire to love; And an inherent dignity. If we are really loving them we need to love their potential.
These ideas are the fundamental ideas of Christianity. Which, by the way, is “a religion.”
So if someone doesn’t believe in God but thinks all these ideas are good ideas, then where do those ideas come from and why are they so difficult to put into practice? If it were instinct, or just a sociological development, then I believe we’d be a lot better at actually doing it. But let’s be honest, we suck.
Christianity is and has always been, a revolutionary religion. Jesus challenged the status quo. He challenged the idea of personal gain over communal gain. The idea of rituals over faith. The idea of law over love. The idea of justice of over mercy.
And that’s why I love Him. He is the only thing that makes sense to me in this world.
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. From the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 31 Verse 33. Jeremiah was a prophet and is recognized as one by Jews, Christians and Muslims.