Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
One New Atheist motto says “There is no God and I hate Him.”
You hate someone who doesn’t exist?
That doesn’t make sense.
However . . . perhaps it makes perfect sense. This absurd statement could well be a most revealing one. Maybe the New Atheists have let the cat out of the bag, and we can now get down to the real issue.
What the God-deniers are saying is this: “I reject God. I don’t want Him in my world. I know He’s there, but I want nothing to do with Him. And, to ensure that He doesn’t interfere with my life, I will even deny that He exists. That makes it just a little bit easier to steer clear of God and to run my life just as I please.”
There’s an old word for this: subterfuge. It comes from a verb which means “to evade, escape, flee by stealth.” Avoidance by distraction. We are all good at playing that game, aren’t we?
And here it seems that the New Atheists are playing it. The God-deniers are telling us that they are, in fact, God-rejectors, and that the philosophical and scientific banter is really a smokescreen. The root issue is much deeper and more personal.
We can all find plenty of reasons to reject God, but deep down there is one fundamental reason: We are rebels at heart. We harbor within us a deep-seated craving for self-autonomy. We don’t want God messing with our lives.
If we are honest, that’s what’s going on inside. It’s true of all of us.
Unfortunately, it’s a dead end street. A forever dead end.
Listen to Martin Luther: “It is the utmost stupidity for us to imagine that our cure lies in flight from God rather than in our return to God…”
The incredibly good news of the Gospel is that the God we run away from is the God who lovingly and patiently pursues us. His name is Jesus. He became human and died on a cross to destroy the lies we have believed and to bring us back.
When we finally lay down our arms, listen to His voice, and respond to His call, everything changes. Our life is flooded with light. The truth sets us free.
And we begin to discover that the Good News is better than we ever imagined.
Think about it: The first being of the universe, perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, creates free creatures. These free creatures turn their backs on him, rebel against him and get involved in sin and evil. Rather than treat them as some ancient potentate might — e.g., having them boiled in oil — God responds by sending his son into the world to suffer and die so that human beings might once more be in a right relationship to God. God himself undergoes the enormous suffering involved in seeing his son mocked, ridiculed, beaten and crucified. And all this for the sake of these sinful creatures.
I’d say a world in which this story is true would be a truly magnificent possible world. It would be so good that no world could be appreciably better. But then the best worlds contain sin and suffering.
Things are never what they seem. If you would see things clearly you must see with the eyes of the heart. That is the secret of every fairy tale, because it is the secret to the Gospel, because it is the secret to life.
Scripture tells us that we might at any time entertain an angel simply by welcoming a stranger. The serpent in the garden is really the Prince of Darkness. The carpenter from Nazareth—there is more to him than meets the eye as well. Things are not what they seem, and so if we would understand our lives—and especially our marriages—we must listen again to the Gospel and the fairy tales based upon it. There are larger events unfolding around us, events of enormous consequence. A lamp is lit and love is lost. A box is opened and evil swarms into the world. An apple is taken and mankind is plunged into darkness. Moments of immense consequence are taking place all around us.
In Christ the ideas of the gospel are guaranteed by the fact of Christ. Here are not unrealized ideas floating upon the horizon of men’s thinking, but ideas become personalized, looking at us with loving eyes and touching us with warm redemptive touch. A correct code of morals leaves us absolutely cold . . . We cannot commune with a sunbeam, or say our prayers to the force of gravity, or bow down to the multiplication table, however true they may be . . . Religion may be the driest thing in the world, but when Religion comes to us bending in lowly services, healing our wounds of body and soul, speaking to our drooping spirits and making them alive again, and showing us the Father, then we bow at the feet of Religion forever captivated.
It is startling to discover how many people there are who heartily dislike and despise Christianity without having the faintest notion what it is. If you tell them, they cannot believe . . . that anything so interesting, so exciting and so dramatic can be the orthodox creed of the Church. –Dorothy Sayer
For thirty five years of my life I was, in the proper understanding of the word, nihilist, a man who believed in nothing. Five years ago my faith came to me. I believed in the doctrine of Jesus Christ and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation. Life and death ceased to be evil. Instead of despair, I tasted joy and happiness that death could not take away. — Leo Tolstoy