I need to blow off some steam for a few moments, about something that just bugs me a lot. Please bear with me.
I am amazed by the number of people who (1) profess to be a Christian, but define the term according to their own whims and convenience, or (2) simply blow off the entire "God-thing" as unworthy of their consideration, which is perhaps the same thing in different words. These groups are large, and the two have some common characteristics. We find many of the first group in churches, but a lot of them are staying away from "organized religion." We also find many of the second group in churches, and others who would not set foot in a church. They have some things in common.
A while back, I wrote that a very important element in shaping one's life - perhaps the most important - is one's view of God. This is true even if one's "view" is that there is no God.
I began thinking about this some years ago while teaching. I required my students to write a paper on the influence of their fathers in their lives. One young woman immediately said her father had no influence, since he left when she was very young. I pointed out that he was indeed an influence, by not being there when he should have been.
Another student spoke of having a warm, loving family with a good father. A third spoke of being abandoned by her father and molested by her stepfather.
They were all shaped in some manner by their fathers, whether present or absent, for better or for worse. I was, as well, and my father died when I was a young boy.
So it is with God.
God is a factor in our life, regardless of our opinion or attitude. We may like it or we may hate it, but we cannot escape it.
I think what bothers me about folks in these two groups is that they think they can define reality, and, curiously, the "reality" they define always works in their favor. It's like they own the place, and they can make up the rules as they choose. But of course, that's nonsense. It's the height of arrogance and hedonism.
We didn't create this world, we control little of it, and we can't make up the rules that ultimately governing our presence here. One who believes, "I am the captain of my fate," should talk with someone who has just gotten a diagnosis of terminal cancer, or who lived through one of the unspeakably barbaric wars in Africa. We control little, except how we will respond to God, people and events. We are dependent beings who are accountable to the God who created both the world and all that's in it.
And so I'm puzzled when I watch seemingly intelligent people - some of them calling themselves Christians - living as if they were God. Or as if there were no God. That's a fool's game, because in the end, no matter what else you do with your life, you lose. Nothing you can accomplish is big enough or good enough to offset that one fundamental error.
Nobody lives entirely divorced from perceptions and desires. True objectivity is an illusion. But it's critical that our perceptions are as closely as possible aligned with "objective" reality. One might say that at some point divorcing oneself from reality becomes insanity: living in a world that doesn't exist except in one's mind.
Here's reality: God is. Here's more reality: We cannot escape that fact, and it is the single greatest factor in determining both our present life and our future. To deny that is beyond foolishness.
Okay. End of rant.