Thursday, September 25, 2008

Imagine Freedom From Religion

“Imagine no religion”, so reads a billboard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Patriot-News reports that the message is inspired by John Lennon’s song, “Imagine”.

Lennon’s vision was as follows--

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one…

I’ll share a few brief reflections on this notion but for a more complete reflection see the article by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason.

The notion that the world would be better off if there were no God and no religious followers of God certainly has a sympathetic ear from me. I concede that there have been some awful things done in the name of religion or God and extremists in any religion are often dangerous.

That said the so-called new atheists (Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc.) seem to most often direct their disdain for Christianity rather than the other religions of the world. They sound more anti-Christian than anti-religion to me.

Anyway…the matter of good and evil seems to me to totally undermine the utopia that is “imagined” when our world is free of religion. Evil is based upon morality. The only reason we say Mother Teresa is good and Hitler is evil is because there is an agreed upon morality. Morality must come from a “morality-giver”. Without a “morality-giver” then we’re left to relativism where one can call rape, incest, or murder good while declaring patience, generosity and forgiveness as evil.

If there is a “morality-giver” then Who is that if not God? Freedom from religion would be separation from God and the morality that God declares to be absolute.

Do human followers of God misinterpret and misappropriate the ways of God? All the time. As has often been said, “One can’t hold Christianity responsible when so-called Christians violate the written instructions. The problem is not with God or Christ but with the people who follow Him."

A world free of God and free of followers of God would rapidly become chaotic, sick, destructive, dark and deadly. You say, “It’s already that way.” I agree. But the world is already that way in proportion to the exclusion of God we’ve already implemented. Complete eradication of God is not a dream to imagine but a nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When Your Life Seems Invisible

I recently heard a talk by someone who had been reading about the great cathedrals in Europe. If you’ve been there and toured any of them you can’t help but be taken with how large they can be and yet given to such intricate detail. Many took over 100 years to build. Because the construction would be beyond the lifetime of the architect or designer, many of the builders are unknown.

In one such account the story is told of the builder carving a bird into a beam that would eventually be covered by a roof line and therefore would not be visible for people to see. Someone inquired of the builder as to why he was doing such meticulous work for something that no one would see. He replied, “God will see it.”

How much do you do every day at work, at home or in social circles, that no one ever sees that contributes to the life and beauty that is around you? God knows.

God knows about that prayer you whispered when you saw someone struggling. God knows about that small gesture you made to encourage someone. God knows about the help you provided secretly, about the arm you placed around a shoulder and about the yielding of your preferences for the sake of another. You have many acts of love and kindness that no one ever sees, that are hidden by the world’s “roof lines” of selfish, rude and boorish behavior, that are never missed by God.

He sees, He knows and He delights in your “invisible” life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How Do You See the Church?

Recently a friend sent me the video below. Canon in D is a wonderful song that I really enjoy hearing with a string quartet. The rendition below however is by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. When you have 5 minutes listen and enjoy. Perhaps it would seem unusual to some but this performance immediately led me to reflect upon the church of Jesus Christ. I share my reflections below.

Most basically a church is a collection of Christ followers who live in covenant with God and one another, engaged in the mission of Christ of sharing Good News that reconciliation with God can be experienced. The LAGQ represent many of the qualities of the church when she is living true to her calling.

Each guitarist brings unique gifting and talent that is of great value alone but truly beautiful and captivating when in concert. The musicians take the beloved piece by Johann Pachelbel that has been played in similar fashion for 400 years and add their own creative touches. The blending of talent and innovation results in music that is delightfully recognizable yet surprising, stirring and even fun.

So the church can be with the eternal ways of God that get freshly expressed through ancient and contemporary human realities. When the church is truly the church her “music” invites and inspires. She is winsome, engaging, redemptive and healing.