Tuesday, 13 January 2009

What religion is not about

I read that the "atheist bus campaign" has gone live in the UK: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090107/atheist-bus-ads-hit-the-streets/

Well, I thought that was a bit of a yawn; the slogan itself ("There's probably no God... so stop worrying and enjoy life") seems like the work of someone who had severe writer's block at the time. I mused on that too much and missed considering the rather straightforward point which the Church of England's spokesperson made very well...

... Christianity is not about worrying or failing to enjoy life.

Now that I think about it, I think it must be a reflection on the atheists who thought it up. I can see why they would associate the thought of God with worry and losing enjoyment in life, because deep down they know the truth. The constant effort to suppress it causes unease and discomfort. However hard they try to dismiss the uncomfortable thoughts of the One to whom they owe all and yet who they have continually thumbed their nose at, they can't - because he made them and he is always there. This process of failed suppression is explained in Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 1, verses 18 onwards.

Ultimately it's not possible to enjoy life or to be free from worry without knowing God. In Jesus Christ we come to know him as our heavenly Father - and that is the ultimate death knell for worry. My kids don't lie awake at night worrying about where their next meal is coming from, or if the future is planned. They don't fret themselves about that, because they trust that their mummy and daddy have got it all sorted out. If they knew they daddy better, maybe they would! But God, the heavenly Father of all those who love him in Jesus, in fact has got it all planned out. So why should we lie awake worrying at night?

Not only is Jesus Christ the death knell of worry, he's also the starting-bell for true life and true joy. He is the one who made all things, and for whom all things were made. Without knowing him, we can't understand the purpose of existence. He is God the Son, and the true purpose of all things. He is the one who gives us life - bringing us back into fellowship with our God. He opens up reality to us - but without him, nothing makes sense. In him, everything falls back into place. We're no longer trying to find fulfilment in some mere created thing - work, family, sport, entertainment, etcetera. When we know God, we seek our fulfilment in him, and then enjoy all the things he has made as gifts from him to use for his glory, not as idols to serve and be enslaved by. Or in other words...

There is a God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ the Saviour of sinners. So stop worrying and enjoy life.

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