It had been bothering him for a little while, not the sort of bother that keeps you up at night, more like the sort of bother that would pop up in the middle of the day and nag at you a little before going away… only to pop back up again sometime later.
It all started last week when his aunty (his mother’s older sister) and uncle, having just returned from travels to India, were over for tea – the beverage, not the meal. Jack had wandered into the dining area to see who the late night visitors were when he stumbled in on the end of a conversation about poverty. His aunt immediately greeted and accosted him, “Do you know how lucky you are to be born here?”
“Well, yes… I guess,” Jack replied, hesitantly.
“We are so lucky. You should have seen the poverty I have just seen. Your mum said: thank God! I say: there is no God!” Jack’s uncle immediately nudged his wife into silence before turning back to Jack with a sheepish, half-apologetic smile.
The intellectual side of Jack, the side of him that was half way through a graduate-level Bible college degree, wanted to engage, but his tempered (and some would say wiser) side held him back. He had learnt over the years that the power of God was not something conveyed through coffee-table debates. Oh, but he so loved such debates.
“OK… well then, good night,” was his eventual, more measured response, before sauntering back to his room. But over the course of the following week, the topic had continued to bother him. Finally, he turned to his much trusted devotional journal and penned a quick thought:
What makes someone look at the world around us and declare that there is no God? I think a part of it has to do with our concept of God, who He is and how that should play out in the world around us. The other part has to do with who we are, what we think is “good” and how that should play out in the world around us.
When did it become that spiritual freedom and physical/material well being had become so correlated in people’s minds. I guess it has always been like that. We are called to trust that God’s will is perfect, yet we look at the world around us and judge based on our view of what is good and right and true. Does someone living in abject poverty have it worse off spiritually than someone who lives in opulent decadence? I think we are each tempted to stray from a relationship with God in whatever life circumstance we find ourselves in.
I guess people who look at worldly conditions and come to conclusions on spiritual matters are the same people, Christian or non-Christian, who wonder why geological records don’t match implied biblical timelines, or who believes in Creation over evolution (or vice versa), or who wonder why the cure to cancer isn’t hidden away in there somewhere. Sorry, the Bible isn’t a history, physics or biology textbook.
The Bible’s core message has to do with God and our relationship to Him. His priorities for us are so crystal clear – to love Him and to love others. It’s so simple, it’s just not easy, but it certainly is more than enough to focus on for a lifetime. Anybody who extends the Bible’s authority beyond that needs to do so with generous portion of caution, lest they lead others (or themselves) astray.
There is a God. I think the most common struggle that people who believe that statement but who shun organised religion have is realising that He is not a being of our creation, it’s the other way around.
Jack put his pen down. There were so many thoughts running through his head. So many scenarios. So many flashbacks of conversations, lectures and rants. As he noticed that he had only written five short paragraphs in just over two hours he started to realise the truth of his own words: it certainly is more than enough to focus on for a lifetime.