“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
I got to teach a course on religion this past year. That’s one of my specialties that I enjoy digging into and helping students understand. It’s an especially exciting experience for me because working at a Christian university, there are a number of misconceptions that we have to address right away. The first is that the course is about religion, not just about Christianity. That opens up our study to all of history and all of the many ways that human society has gone about creating explanations for the unknown.
It’s a great class that I think everyone needs to take. Can I sign you up?
“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.” ― G.K. Chesterton
Our society right now is so advanced and has enabled most individuals to thrive so well that I often wonder if we need God anymore?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Do you need God today? What about tomorrow?
Sociologist Christian Smith writes that people (as members of a society) are religious because:
…they hope for superhuman powers to help them realize human goods and avoid bads, especially to grant them blessings, prevent misfortunes and aid them in crises; and because they wish to enjoy the various forms of identity, community, meaning, expression, aesthetics, ecstasy, control and legitimacy that practicing religions offer.
We studied his definition in class this past year. It still has me thinking about the practice of religion in my own life and among the groups to which I belong. I don’t think ANYONE that I know would ever say or believe that they didn’t need God anymore. But how do we know that people need God? What behaviors would we find?
- Attending religious services and studies, to express and grow in faith
- Praying, alone and in groups, seeking answers to problems
- Sharing their faith story in prayer requests and testimonies
- Seeking answers to larger (and smaller) questions about the application of faith to daily life
This is just the start of a list. You could probably brainstorm other additions.
When I look at Smith’s definition of religion (it has be very global so it fits all religions throughout the world and history), it makes me wonder if people in my circles are less religious just because we don’t think we need God for much. As long as we have good health insurance, a retirement plan, a steady job, a warm and loving family – why do we need to bother God?
Again, I don’t think we are actually aware that we’ve fallen out of our relationship with God. Because we’ve become so self-sufficient (or so we think), he’s just become like a distant uncle who we visit on the holidays.
I’m probably being way too cynical.
You take a look at your own life and decide.
- What and who are on your prayer list? Do you keep one?
- What are your conversations about when you’re with other Christians? The weather?
- How often do you attend your church and small group? Are you spectating or participating?
- Are you and God on speaking terms right now?
“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” ― C.S. Lewis
Why not start to journal this year about your spiritual life, about your need for God? Writing each day will help you to refocus and realign, just in case you’ve accidently wandered off into that place where you think you’ve got it all under control.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― A.W. Tozer